Feminism in Chopin’s and Glaspell’s Works
Feminism was a central topic of many literary works in the late 19th-early 20th century, while Trifles by Susan Glaspell and “The Storm” by Kate Chopin are among them. These writing pieces describe the times when women were not considered equal members of society, which provided representatives of this gender with some challenges and limitations. Women were forced to withstand discriminatory and repressive attitudes at home, but not all females agreed with this state of affairs. Glaspell’s Trifles and Chopin’s “The Storm” tell the stories of two women, Mrs. Wright and Calixta, correspondingly, who violated social expectations and committed morally wrong actions, but it is impossible to assess their behavior unanimously.
Glaspell’s Trifles and Chopin’s “The Storm”
On the one hand, Glaspell indicates that a man’s disrespect for and discrimination against his wife can lead to tragic consequences. John Wright was found killed in his house, and his wife, Mrs. Wright, was the main suspect (Glaspell 1). Even though the County Attorney, Sheriff, and a neighboring farmer investigated the house, their wives solved the case. The women find a dead canary and conclude that Mrs. Wright killed her husband because the latter murdered her favorite bird (Glaspell 8). The case was solved, but the women decided to hide evidence from their husbands.
Mrs. Wright violated the law, but it is reasonable to investigate the situation to find her genuine motivation. The woman was lonely in her own house because her relationship with her husband was repressive, while the two did not have children. The sheriff’s wife describes that loneliness can be challenging and dangerous for women (Doley 45). A canary was a significant creature for Mrs. Wright because it helped her withstand her living conditions. That is why when Mr. Wright murdered the bird, Mrs. Wright lost control and killed the man. Even though this motif does not justify the crime, it throws a light on the situation and allows for understanding the woman’s feelings and compromised emotional state.
On the other hand, Calixta did not murder anyone but committed adultery in “The Storm” by Chopin. While her husband and son were stuck in a local shop because of the storm, the woman was staying in a house and invited a passing-by ex-boyfriend, Alcée, to hide inside (Chopin 2). The two had sex, but as the storm ended and Calixta’s husband and son came back, the woman was happy with the family reunification.
Even though Calixta committed a morally wrong act, it is reasonable to assess her motivation. Calixta has had feelings for Alcée for many years, and the storm provided her with the opportunity to express them (Ezghoul and Qazi 1237). Furthermore, the encounter with Alcée allowed the woman to become free of any expectations that affected her in society (Ezghoul and Qazi 1237). The woman was also nervous, and the experience could help her withstand the existing emotional burden. Thus, the combination of different factors was affecting Calixta, and it is necessary to consider them while assessing her behavior.
In conclusion, the two literary works describe the women who appeared in challenging life conditions and engaged in misbehavior. Mrs. Wright killed her husband, while Calixta committed adultery, but a closer analysis is necessary to identify the women’s motifs. Thus, it was found that Mrs. Wright suffered from her husband’s repressive attitude, while Calixta kept hiding her feelings from her ex-boyfriend for a long time. There is no doubt that these facts do not justify the women’s misbehavior, but they help understand why they behaved in this manner. That is why it is challenging to offer a unanimous conclusion as to whether Calixta and Mrs. Wright did what they needed for their emotional survival or committed acts that should have been punished.
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” 1898.
Doley, Dipak Kumar. “The Concepts of Home, Family, and Traditional Gender Roles: A Critical Study of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Social Vision, vol. 7, no. 2, 2020, pp. 41-51.
Ezghoul, Na’im, and Khursheed Ahmad Qazi. “A Lacanian Interpretation of Chopin’s ˈStory of an Hourˈ & ˈStormˈ.” Journal of English Language and Literature, vol. 13, no. 3, 2020, pp. 1233-1238.
Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles.” 1916.