In Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, the theme of contrasting roles between men and women is magnified by the setting of a lonely, Midwestern farm isolated from the public. This play demonstrates how different the roles between men and women were, and how women were treated. Trifles, also illustrates the changing times in the late 19th century to early 20th century. During this time period, women become more independent and wanted to be equal to men instead of inferior to them.
Trifles, takes place in the late 1880s to early 1900s on a Midwestern farm in a small town. The play is about a woman named Minnie Wright who is a suspect in her husband’s murder. The police begin to search through the Wright home looking for evidence to convict Mrs. Wright. While the police are searching Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter, two neighbors, are commenting on the house and the Wright’s lives. The men make fun of what the women are talking about, belittling what they are saying and what they are thinking about. While the police are searching for evidence to convict Mrs. Wright, the two women find a dead bird in her sewing kit. The bird has been strangled to death with a rope, which is mysteriously the same way Mr. Wright had died. The women discover the truth about what happened to Mr. Wright by observing the Wright’s home life. The two women conclude that Mrs. Wright was a lonely woman due to Mr. Wright’s cold and impersonal manner and the fact that she had no children. The women believe that she bought a canary to keep her company, but Mr. Wright strangled it because of his cold nature. They believe this is what made Mrs. Wright murder her husband. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter hide the bird from the police to protect Mrs. Wright so she cannot be convicted.
On farms in the 19th century, men and women had very different roles. Men were considered the “breadwinners” of the family, and they got all the respect. Their jobs were very physically demanding and extremely difficult. The men spent a majority of their time out working in the fields. They would plow the fields and harvest all the plants and crops. The men were responsible for raising the cattle, hogs and other farm animals. They also had to raise grains and hay for the winter so the animals would have food. Men had to go out hunting and bring home food for their families so they could eat. The men controlled all of the money in the house, including the money that the wife and children made. “In general, women and boys earned half to two-thirds of an adult man's wage, which, in 1930, ranged from around $1.50 a day in southern Illinois to around $2.20 a day in the wealthier prairie regions” (“The Changing Roles of Farm Women”). Women and children made substantially less than the men did, even though their jobs were just as demanding as the men’s. (“The Changing Roles of Farm Women”).
The role for women on farms was much different and arguably harder than that of the...