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Themes and Colors
Social Oppression of Women Theme Icon
The Blindness of Men Theme Icon
Gender Allegiance vs. Legal Duty Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Trifles, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Blindness of Men Theme Icon

As described in the theme on the Social Oppression of Women, Trifles’ use of gender roles establishes the men in the sphere of work and influence and the women in the sphere of the home and trifling concerns. Yet, at the same time, the title of the play highlights the trifling concerns that the men mock, and in doing so emphasizes that the “trifles” that the men overlook because they are feminine concerns are in fact crucially important. Ironically, it is these “trifles” that lead the women to uncover true evidence concerning the crime, while the men are unsuccessful in finding a motive during their search of the Wrights’ house.

The importance of the trifles demonstrates the way that the men, in their power and self-importance, completely overlook the importance of women and their domestic activities. It shows how that self-importance causes the men to overlook the very thing they are searching for, and how that arrogant blindness to the lives of women weakens the men in ways they can’t even recognize.

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The Blindness of Men ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of The Blindness of Men appears in each chapter of Trifles. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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The Blindness of Men Quotes in Trifles

Below you will find the important quotes in Trifles related to the theme of The Blindness of Men.
Trifles Quotes

“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”

Related Characters: Lewis Hale (speaker), Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale, Minnie Wright
Related Symbols: Trifles, Canning Jars of Fruit
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

George Henderson, the county attorney, accompanies Mr. Hale and Mr. Peters, and their wives, to the home of a man who was recently killed. The murdered man's wife, Mrs. Wright, has been taken into custody, and the men search the home for any evidence. They find that Mrs. Wright's hard labor of canning fruit has been ruined, as the jars have frozen and exploded in the cold weather. The women's sympathy for Mrs. Wright's ruined project draws scorn from the men. Mr. Hale dismisses their concern by stating that women "are used to worrying over trifles." This statement reveals both the attitudes of the men toward women and the social position women hold in this play. 

First, the men all think of women, and the concerns of women, as inferior to men and the concerns of men ("trifles" as compared to presumably important issues). Second, the domain of women is the domestic sphere. Men fill the roles of investigators and intellects, while women are not expected to understand or help with the search for evidence against Mrs. Wright. Because the women have been delegated lesser roles and responsibilities, the men see "women's things" (anything related to the household) as trifles. This perspective ultimately causes these men to overlook the very evidence they need, because they immediately discount the importance of women's things and concerns. As a whole, the play shows the error in this thinking. Women's concerns, emotional abuse, and social oppression are at the heart of this story, and are not trivial at all.


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“No, Mrs. Peters doesn’t need supervising. For that matter, a sheriff’s wife is married to the law.”

Related Characters: George Henderson (speaker), Henry Peters, Mrs. Peters
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have selected some clothes and other items to take to Minnie Wright at the jail, and Mr. Peters asks if George Henderson would like to check through these items before they are delivered to Minnie. Henderson scoffs at the necessity of this, dismissing it for two reasons. First, he doesn't believe that the women could be a threat simply because they are women. Henderson sees Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters as unintelligent and subservient. It is clear that he is not suspicious of them, which means he does not believe them to be capable of outwitting their husbands or concealing evidence.

Second, Henderson states that Mrs. Peters in particular is above suspicion because she is married to the sheriff. A woman, of course, follows the thinking and ideals of her husband, and, as the wife of the sheriff, Mrs. Peters must be particularly law-abiding. This quote works to emphasize what is at stake for Mrs. Peters in her deception. She is deliberately acting illegally and concealing evidence, even though her husband (who, society dictates, should direct her in all things) is committed to upholding the law. Mrs. Peters has chosen loyalty to Minnie Wright over loyalty to her husband and to the law. Not only are the representatives of the law (sheriff, attorney) all male, but so will be the jury that tries Minnie Wright. The women are uniting and simultaneously thwarting both men and the law. 

“Well, Henry, at least we found out that she was not going to quilt it. She was going to—what is it you call it, ladies?”
“We call it—knot it, Mr. Henderson.”

Related Characters: George Henderson (speaker), Mrs. Hale (speaker), Minnie Wright
Related Symbols: The Quilt
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

During this loaded resolution to the play, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have concealed the dead bird that shows Minnie's Wright's motive for killing her husband. The quilt, too, shows evidence of her emotional distress in its poor stitching. The women have already discussed whether Minnie was planning to sew the quilt or knot the quilt to complete it. These two techniques take on metaphorical resonance because to "knot it" sounds like the tying of ropes, and Mr. Wright was strangled with a rope. In a subtle way, the women are revealing the truth of what happened and their knowledge of it by saying Minnie Wright was planning to "knot it." In other words, they know she killed her husband with a rope around his neck. 

Notably, this question and answer are only metaphorical in the minds of the women, and George Henderson asks the question in complete naïveté. He is again mocking the women for their concern with something as trivial as the making of a quilt when there is a murder mystery to be solved. Yet it is ironic that the women have solved the mystery by paying attention to such "trifles." The question Henderson asks is exactly the right one, and he asks it of the people with the most information, but he asks it with what the reader can imagine to be a mocking and sarcastic tone. He doesn't care about Minnie Wright's quilting process--but he should. The men have the answer to the murder mystery at their fingertips, but overlook it because women's concerns seem unimportant to them.