The Theme A Jury Of Her Peers of Law in Triffles, a Play by Susan Glaspell

Trifles is a play that revolves around the law, Written by Susan Glaspell, a prominent leader of the American feminist movement, it highlights the gender biases within the law and the need for a fair jury in any case. A subsequent short story of Glaspell’s was published in 1917; it was based on Trifles and was appropriately entitled, A Jury of Her Peers. The term, “trifles”, has an important role in law, referenced to in the phrase, de minimis non curat (ex, or “the law does not worry itself with trifles”.

An idea addressed by Mr. Hale is an allusion to the phrase when he proclaims that “women are used to worrying over trifles. The male and female groups in the play are both symbols of different aspects of the legal process The men are a clear representation of the law and proper legal proceedings in a typical murder case.

They investigate the crime scene, look for any evidence that can be used against the main suspect, Mrs.

Wright, and do not concern themselves with ” trifles Gender bias aside, they are a perfect parallel of the written law. When Mrs. Hale grows angry at the men for their insensitive way of investigating, Mrsi Peters, the sheriff’s wife, concedes that “the law is the law”, strengthening the relation between the law and the men. As for the women, they symbolize the jury. After discovering the motive for the murder of Mr. Wright, they hide the evidence, taking away the only piece of information that the men could use to convict his wife.

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Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters decide that Mrs. Wright should be innocent, thereby deciding the outcome of the case. They are presented with all the facts, including the evidence found at the scene and the history of emotional abuse within the Wright household, and make an informed, albeit bias, decision.

The importance of law within the play becomes even more prominent when considering whether or not the law was abided by. Both the men and women are guilty of their own utilization of gender bias, The men, symbolizing the law, do not consider all the facts within the case, such as the abusive background of the Wrights‘ marriage. Mr. Wright was known as a very intolerable man, which could be the reasoning behind why he was murdered by his wife. However, they simply see the relationship of the Wrights as a conformance to gender roles of the early twentieth century. The man is expected to be stern and controlling, and the woman is expected to be submissive. After examining the dirty towels in the kitchen, the men decide that Mrs. Wright is the one at fault in the partnership, because she apparently does not conform to the gender roles designated for her.

The men do not consider every fact within the case, and use their own bias to cloud their judgment, representing an improper legal proceeding. Meanwhile, the women consider the emotional abuse of Mrs Wright, but overstep their boundaries as the “jury” when they decide to hide the evidence that is necessary to convict the widow. Mrsr Peters and Mrs Hale are both victimized by the men because of their gender, and feel as though the men are “trying to get (Mrs. Wright’s) house to turn against her”. The home is a sacred place, and in the early twentieth century, a home was the product of a woman’s hard work. The women become defensive as the men continue to investigate the home. They face a dilemma between moral and lawful duty, and they decide to go against their husbands and the law. Although they truly mean well, the women use their personal gender bias to nearly the same magnitude of the men‘s actions, and neither group abides by proper legal proceedings.

On a deeper literary level, law presents a stunning amount of irony. Normally, murder is seen as being an absolutely disgusting crime, but the characters in the play act as though it is a petty crime. Everything is strangely casual, as though the crime is something insignificant and easy to joke about Another point of irony is Mrs. Peters‘s role of being “married to the law”, as echoed by her husband and the county attorney. She is literally married to her husband, a symbol of the law, but ends up going against the law by covering up the motive behind the murder.

Finally, the most obvious example of irony within the law is the men’s inability to decipher the case, The women are expected to be of very little help overall, but prove to be the only ones who can understand the reasoning behind the murder, and the fate of the case rests in their hands This irony is a product of Glaspell’s background in feminism. The legal process, along with the obvious feminist message, is at the forefront of Trifles To understand the roles played by the men and women, as well as their gender bias, Glaspell employed both symbolism and irony.

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The Theme A Jury Of Her Peers of Law in Triffles, a Play by Susan Glaspell. (2023, May 14). Retrieved from

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