Representations of Rural Women in Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Raja Al-Khalili
2013 Studies in Literature and Language   unpublished
Rural American women usually appear as marginal characters in mainstream early twentieth century literature. Susan Glaspell, however, sought to represent the lives and hardships of the simple rural women residing in various regions in America and forgotten by society. In Trifles (1916) the characters were molded after real people residing in the American countryside and the protagonist resembles a real woman involved in a sensational murder case that Glaspell covered during her early days as a
more » ... er early days as a journalist. Consequently, most critics link the domestic murder to the playwright's ideals of advocating political rights for women. Moreover, the play written in 1916 preceding the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 is indicative of cultural transformations in American society. Critical opinion, however, varies and Trifles is often regarded as a one-act drama focusing on the individual hardships of women and therefore does not reach an apogee of a political play. However, the play's vivid description of the daily lives of rural women in America and their individual struggle with patriarchy emphasize the play's insistence on the importance of gaining political rights for women as a major theme. The present paper suggests that a reading of the political themes as relevant because the historical setting and the precise account of rural American women living in 1916 were accurately portrayed in the exposition.