Trifles: how the author views men and women

This author may be considered feminist, how does the author show these views of men and women ? How does the stories era and gender role affect the view of men and women in the play?

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This is a thematic question, and Gradesaver touches on some of these ideas in detail. The first theme is female identity. When speaking to the female characters in Trifles, Henderson and the other men make a key mistake in their assumption that the women derive their identity solely from their relationship to men, the dominant gender. For example, Henderson tells Mrs. Peters that because she is married to the sheriff, she is married to the law and therefore is a reliable follower of the law. Mrs. Peters' response is "Not--just that way," suggesting that over the course of the play, she has rediscovered a different aspect of her identity that ties more closely to her experience as a woman than to her marriage to Henry Peters. As Mrs. Hale concludes, women "all go through the same things--it's all just a different kind of the same thing." For Mrs. Hale, Minnie Wright's murder of her husband is the ultimate rejection of her husband's imposed identity in favor of the memory of the person Minnie Foster used to be.

The author also touches on the theme of patriarchal dominance. The novel focuses heavily on the men's belief that they grant female identity by virtue of the women's relation to men rather than through their inherent qualities as females. Except for the absent Minnie Wright, the women have no first name and take their husband's last names, despite being the protagonists of the story instead of the named male characters. This institutionalized male superiority is so pervasive that the men feel comfortable in disparaging Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale's interest in "trifles," with the clear implication that the women are too flighty and small-minded to worry about important issues such as the investigation at hand. In addition, when the men observe the troublesome state of the kitchen, they immediately conclude that the woman must be at fault in her homemaking abilities because they all know John Wright as a good, dutiful man and in consequence form a unified front protecting John Wright's reputation. Because of this male solidarity, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale can only aid Mrs. Wright if they ally with their own gender.

A third theme is that of domesticity. When Henderson observes the Wright kitchen, he concludes that Mrs. Wright must not have "the homemaking instinct," which Mrs. Hale interprets as an attack on Mrs. Wright's worth. Her countering of his statement with the suggestion that Mr. Wright did not have the homemaking instinct establishes two alternate interpretations of the meaning of domesticity. According to one definition, domesticity is the ability to keep a home in the purely physical sense, with a clean kitchen and well-sewn quilts. In her final moments prior to the murder of her husband, Minnie Wright rebels against these standards of domestic prowess because in her eyes, her husband has failed to meet the second definition of domesticity, which depends upon one's ability to make a home warm and comforting emotionally. Henderson fails to comprehend that the latter form of domesticity is as important as the first type, as shown by his disregard for signs of a troubled marital life in the Wright household.