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Feminist Message in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles

The Feminist Message in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles

Susan Glaspell’s Trifles can be regarded as a work of feminist literature. The play depicts the life of a woman who has been suppressed, oppressed, and subjugated by a patronizing, patriarchal husband. Mrs. Wright is eventually driven to kill her “hard” (1178) husband who has stifled every last twitch of her identity. Trifles dramatizes the hypocrisy and ingrained discrimination of male-dominated society while simultaneously speaking to the dangers for women who succumb to such hierarchies. Because Mrs. Wright follows the role mapped by her husband and is directed by society’s patriarchal expectations, her identity is lost somewhere along the way. However, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters quietly insist on preserving their own identities by protecting Mrs. Wright from the men who seek to convict her of murder.

Mrs. Wright is described as someone who used to have a flair for life. Her neighbor, Mrs. Hale, comments that the last time Mrs. Wright appeared happy and vivacious was before she was married or, more important, when she was Minnie Foster and not Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale laments, “I heard she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir” (1176). But after thirty years of marriage, Mrs. Wright is now worried about her canned preserves freezing and being without an apron while she is in jail. This subservient image was so accepted in society that Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, speculates that Mrs. Wright must want her apron in order to “feel more natural” (1176). Any other roles would be considered uncharacteristic.

This wifely role is predicated on the supposition that women have no abili…

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…lso becomes complicit in keeping information from her husband and other men. She too–owing to the loss of her first child–understands what loss means and what Mrs. Hale means when she says that women “all go through the same things” (1180).

The women in Trifles cannot, as the play reveals, be trifled with. Although Glaspell wrote the play close to eighty years ago, it continues to be relevant to contemporary relationships between men and women because its essentially feminist perspective provides a convincing case for the necessity of women to move beyond destructive stereotypes and oppressive assumptions in order to be true to their own significant–not trifling–experiences.

Works Cited

Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2000.

Work and Happiness in Death of a Salesman and Remains of the Day

Work and Happiness in Death of a Salesman and Remains of the Day

What a person does to make a living often defines who that person is. Because so much time and energy is invested into work, work is often seen as an extension of oneself. One of the first questions that someone asks after meeting you for the first time is about what you do for a living. The belief is that by knowing what you do, one should be able to tell something about who you are. People almost never ask the more telling question of whether or not you are happy. They rely on the nature of the occupation to tell them something about your happiness. If you are a doctor, lawyer, or celebrity, it is assumed you are happy because of the money associated with those occupations. For some, income is a determinate of happiness. Granted, money is a major determinant, but not the only determinant of happiness. Happiness on the job is better determined by the support to values that a job provides.

Happiness seems to be one of those words that can only be defined in general terms, like love. It is easy to know when you are not happy, but determining happiness is a little harder. People often say that they feel happy or that something makes them happy. Greeting cards are filled with one-liners defining happiness saying things like,”Happiness is…” and then going on to compare it to a kiss from your child or a puppy dog. If achieving happiness was really that trite then no one would have much trouble achieving happiness. Happiness at work is really a more complexed recipe where many personal ingredients are needed to make it turn out as you hoped.

The ingredients or factors that determine happiness on the job are universal in that all workers need a combina…

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…f money could bring happiness, then more money could bring him more happiness. Again, when money is the highest value used in determining happiness at work, other values become over shadowed or ignored. Unsatisfied values eventually reveal themselves when the money value is met. Without being content in all values, happiness at work cannot be attained. Richard Cory probably did not know how to satisfy those once hidden values and found his life very unhappy. Thinking that hard work will lead to financial success and happiness is not wrong as a value, but as Richard Cory finds out, happiness based on only money is not possible unless that value is your only value.

Works Cited and Consulted

Hayman, Ronald. Arthur Miller. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1972.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day. Vintage Books, New York NY: 1988.

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