I really liked the play this week. The thing that stuck out most to me was the dismissiveness of the male characters towards the female characters. Again and again, they laughed at the actions and desires of the women in the play. Of course, these actions had significant consequences, leading to the men missing crucial evidence in the case. This is likely emblematic of a larger trend in society, especially in the society of the time. Women’s interests are dismissed to the detriment of society, and in the play, this dismissal leads first to the murder of John Wright (because his wife was denied anything that made her happy by him) and then to significant holes in the case against Minnie (because the other two women sympathize with her and hide evidence against her.) The morality of these actions, which, at least to me, seems to quite questionable aside, there is a clear cause and effect relationship at play: men ignore the needs and desires of women, and women do things that hurt both themselves and the men around them. That’s a paradigm that’s not only at play in theater, but in real life.
Earlier in the year, we discussed how women are often more detail-oriented than men. One theory advanced to explain this phenomenon was the idea that women are expected to focus more on the trivial than men. Again, that’s a paradigm that hurts everyone. Men ignore often-important realities because they view them as trivial, while women are discouraged from considering challenging ideas because they are expected to focus more on the trivial. In this play, Susan Glaspell is trying to get at the harsh realities of this dynamic. She shows us just how hurt everyone is by the expectations placed on women, and she does so extremely effectively.