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Literary Criticism of "Trifles"

Feminist/Gender Studies/Queer Theory seen in "Trifles"

Corinne Gruwell

on 12 November 2012

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Transcript of Literary Criticism of "Trifles"

Feminism/ Gender Studies/ Queer Theory displays divergent interests drawing insights from many disciplines. Feminism/Gender Studies/ Queer Theory Gender Studies A more recent critical approach that brings attention to gender rather than to sexual differences.
Gender studies critics see the masculine/feminine divide as socially constructed and not innate.
Many studies have also built on the insights of psychoanalysis and deconstruction, questioning Freud's male-oriented categories and seeking insights into the way language is constructed and the way it affects our thinking. The men and the women show up to the Wright's house for two different reasons. The men are there to look for motive. The women are there to simply gather Mrs. Wright's personal effects. Because the women are devalued by the men, they are able to get away with not mentioning the evidence they've found. According to gender theorists, men and women go about moral dilemmas with different thought patterns. This is a apparent in "Trifles" when Mrs. Peters quits adhering to patriarchal values and starts going along with Mrs. Hales thinking. The men are concerned with the obvious whereas the women who seem to be concerned with domestic things, are actually paying attention to detail. Feminist Criticism Had its genesis in the women's movement in the 1960's, shares many of its concerns, and has applied them to the study of literature.
One of the early aims of feminist critics was to question the traditional canon and claim a place in it for neglected women writers.
Feminist critics also delineate the ways both female and male characters are portrayed in literature, looking at how societal norms about sexual difference are either enforced of subverted, and focusing partly on patriarchal structures and institutions such as marriage. Feminist Criticism Seen in Trifles Feminism Criticism Continued “Mrs. Peters: Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire’d go out and her jars would break. Hale: Well, women are used to worrying over trifles” In this scene the men totally dismiss the women's ideas as if they are concerned about unimportant matters. Hale's comment silences the women thus implying the women are of a lower social status. Queer Theory A more recent critical orientation that came to prominence in the early 1990's.
Queer theory appropriates many of the insights of deconstruction, particularly its understanding that binary oppositions are relative and that thinking about matters such as sexual orientation is partly ideological and partly social.
Queer theorists are interested in how homosexuals are portrayed in literature and whether or not they write or read literature differently than heterosexuals. In the very first scene of Trifles, the men walk in first and are followed by the women who come in slowly and stand close together. In a patriarchal society, just the order of entrance shows the subordination of the women. The women are huddled close together throughout the play showing the women to be weak. Throughout the play, the men ignore the women as if the "Trifles" they are tending to are completely irrelevant and unimportant. Little do they know these "Trifles" point to the guilt of Mrs. Wright. They notice the wavering stitching of the quilt, the similarities between Mr. Wright's death and the canary, as well as the frozen preserves.
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