In Susan Glaspell's play Trifles (1163), she tells a story of mystery and intrigue, surrounding an apparent murder. The setting is in the early twentieth century and it appears to be cold, maybe late fall or the dead of winter. Either way the mood is chilling; cold like the death that has set the tone of the play. Although a death or a murder had taken place, Glaspell was not trying to make it the main theme. The main point she was leading to was the plight that so many women faced during this time in history. Glaspell illustrates how in the early twentieth century women were second class and some time were treated as such even by the men they were married to.
Women in the early to mid twentieth century were mainly relegated to the house. The upkeep of the house and maintenance of their husbands was or the most part their only job. Their job was thankless and that sometimes-bordered on slavery. Mrs. Wright was lively and happy before her marriage. The two female characters in the play even talk about the beauty of her voice before marriage, and how she used to sing in the church choir.
Over the years her husband Mr. Wright seemed to break her down and transformed her into somebody to meet his own needs. The only thing that seemed to make her happy was a bird, a sweet singing canary that may have turned out to be a breaking point in Mrs. Wright. When Mrs. Wright found the bird dead, she snapped and killed her husband.
Mrs. Wright found a way to free herself from the prison that Mr. Wright had kept her in, through murder she escaped. Mrs.
Wright was not the only one Glaspell was trying to make a point for the suffrage that women endured in the early twentieth century. She cleverly makes her point through the other two female characters in the play, Mrs Peters and Mrs. Hale. In the beginning of the play the men make comments on the cleanliness of the house, Court Attorney: not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies (1166, 31). This statement demonstrates the sentiment that men had for women, whose responsibility for the upkeep of the house was the women's.
The ladies are quick to come back, Mrs. Hale: Theres a great deal of work to be done on a farm." (1166, 32). "Stiffly" (1166) was used to describe the mood the actress needed to represent to the audience. Glaspell uses this tone to represent that these women knew how tough life could be for a woman on a farm or in any household. Mrs. Wright was driven to murder her husband by the systematic breakdown of her lively spirit that existed before she got married.
By the end of the play, it is the women who concluded to what had happened in the Wrights household. And it is these very women who decide not to share this information with the men. Men who would not understand, or take into consideration the events that led up to the murder. Glaspell shares with the audience what time was like for women in the early twentieth century, a point in time that was hard, thankless, and sometime life changing experience for women. At the time Glaspell wrote the play, maybe this was the only way to bring light to what was maybe going on in her own life, and in the world..