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Essentially, gender roles have evolved over time and are still experiencing remarkable changes. In fact, in the contemporary society, women have broken away from their traditional roles and are competing with men for different opportunities. It's also evident that most of the history books and stories have been written to reflect the patriarchal nature of traditional societies. The stories “Trifles” and “A Doll’s House” are challenging the traditional gender roles through their complexity and this is evident in the unfolding events in the plays. These story lines point out interesting contrast and comparison between these stories as we analyze the changing gender roles (Meyer, 1258).
Both “A Doll’s House” and “Trifles” are centered on married individuals and are presented in a female character's point of view. In the story “Trifles”, Mrs. Wright’s house is highlighted a day after her husband has been murdered (Meyer, 1048). The events unfold after the gruesome act and are widely highlighted and reinforced by the conversation between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter. According to the author, the two women are from a similar rural home as Wright, and one of them is the Sherriff’s wife, while the other is the wife of a man who discovered that Mr. Wright was dead (Meyer, 1049). From the reader‘s perspective, there is no doubt that Mrs. Wright did kill her husband, but unless the reader continues delve into the content of the story, he/she may not know why she killed her husband. On the other hand, the story “Trifle” talks about a woman who murdered two women and her husband. These women, (Mrs. Wright and the woman in the “Trifles”) challenge the roles of women by holding the evidence of their husband's deaths.
In the “A Doll House”, before the curtain is rolled an important action has already occurred. It is discovered that a woman named Nora, who seems to be comfortable with her gender roles, has not fulfilled her husband’s will and has also been settling a debt behind the husband’s back, for a period of over ten years (Meyer, 1264). Additionally, she obtains a loan by forging the husband’s signature. In fact, she feels no guilt in telling lies to him as long as she preserves her marriage and maintains peace within the family. According to Nora, it would be better to be thought of as a “spendthrift” woman, than one who is riddled in debt. Nora’s actions and ways of thing to Torvald posses a challenge in the readers’ minds since the she had been perceived to be a housewife (Meyer, 1051).
A major interesting comparison can be picked from the protagonist women who are both compared to birds. Torvald refers to Nora as “lark”, and Mrs. Hale on the other side says that Mrs. Wright “was kind of a bird herself.” These reflect metaphors which are overridden by the dark tones as the play progresses. The birds can be trapped in a cage as the women can be trapped in the gender roles. These roles are never to enslave them but to serve their children and their husbands.
This theme is discovered in the “Trifle” story when canary was found strangled and his dead body sewed in a bag of guilt. These deeds of Mrs. Wright, the free nature and spirit, depicts how gender assigned duties are displayed by women. Actually, Mrs. Wright desires to fulfill the desires of her children by being a good wife, as reiterated by Mrs. Hale; however, these desires were denied by the cold, one wintry spirited Mrs. Wright.
Mrs. Hale says that she did not think a “placed be some cheer-fuller for John Wright’s being in it” as much as the Country Attorney, Mr. Henderson serves Mrs. Wright right. Minnie Foster said that Mr. Wright once affected her life and expelled her from being a town girl she used to be about thirty year ago; Mr. Wright deeds, according to this woman, made her quit her singing in a choir but not any other woman Ladies’ Aid did. Mrs. Wright last solace was that she otherwise drained and dreary was the little singing canary she had bought a year before the events of “Trifle.” She finally said that, Mr. Wright’s death resulted from tying a rope round his neck and strangling him, in the same manner he strangled the bird and her spirit. This shows what happens when a marriage goes wrong.
While Mrs. Wright and her gender roles were being lashed out against the cage as by her husband, Nora decided to behave in a greedy manner by cheating the husband in order to save her marriage. Complexity of Nora’s personality makes it hard to predict her true self by the reader; up to the end of the story, especially when she shirks her duties to her children and the husband. Nevertheless, she refuses to be referred or be viewed as a “doll” in her husband’s house (Meyer, 1278). Nora realizes that do not exchange serious words in their relationship, nevertheless, they had had a conservations which could amount to serious exchange of words a day before the death of Mr. Wright about Krogstad or concerning money. We can therefore say that the humanizing fault is what makes Nora so excited especially when she munched on what had been forbidden by her husband and this woman lies only after find the sweetness that come out of her lies, even though, she was introduced to lies by her friends. Nora absolves herself when responding to the inquiries of her husbands concerning scratches on the mailbox and blames the scratches on the children. Additionally, we can state that there are numerous conflicting traits of this woman.
In relation to the traditional gender roles and Nora behaviors we cannot conclude her actions are crime to the tradition however they can be considered a crime when she forgets that her father’s name is in the loan form. This displays the heart of challenging issues that are associated with Nora in the story “A Doll’s House” otherwise she is forced to break the standing roles of the woman as per tradition by breaking the boundary. Nevertheless, Nora is a very harmless (Meyer, 1288).
Moreover, not only the criminal actions of the Minnie and Nora that causes the challenges in the gender dynamism but also their actions and circumstances in supporting the cast. For instance, at least in a single relationship in the story “A Doll House,” the typical gender assignments are completely reversed; Kristine Linderesumes the assignments of Mr. Krogstand who loses his job. Moreover, Linde is exposed as a woman who is capable of solving her problems completely without any assistance from men (this is shown as the events of the play unfolded) (Meyer, 1301). This woman not only replaces Mr. Krogstand, where Nora’s husband is to be assigned management duties as a bank manager, but later rejuvenates the relationship betwixt the two and as well she offers to work while Nora’s husband stays at home. Additionally, she played a role some years back in resolving her family problems but taking a break from their relationship with Krogstand and decided to marry a rich man. It is worth noting that Krogstand also accepted the shift in gender roles by accommodating the circumstances that befell him. Moreover, he did not care who provided for the family but only cared about the last reunion of Ms. Linde.
Just like complimentary traits provided by Krogstand and Linde that coincides with those of Nora’s in challenging the traditional gender roles, Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hales in the story “Trifles” did the same things as Mrs. Wright. The duo engages in their family or home criminal errands as they discuss cases and gather trinkets for Mrs. Wright and ignoring any judgmental comments from both the Sheriff and the Court Attorney during the court process (Meyer, 1056). As the three starts going through some home problems, it is realized that there are some odd happenings; the presence of the bird cage Mrs. Wright’s home. The Court Attorney nor the sheriff, but those who had discovered the strangled canary neither recognize the bird cage. The gathering of these pieces of evidences together confirms that Mrs. Wright was the responsible for the death of her husband. Surprisingly, they agree not to unveil the evidence, since Mrs. Peter is sheriff’s wife.
Not only did the women of the “Trifles” story were left to solve the murder crime but also protected one of their own by influencing the audience so to think that they did a right thing. In the complementary actions of these characters; murder problem solved by women, women being breadwinners in the family is what have made the theme of these two stories “A Doll House” and Trifles” of challenge the roles of women in relation to those of men. If only the two characters Minnie and Nora, in these stories could have set these challenges then role of women could have not been the theme in these stories (Meyer, 1305).
The story ends but it is not known whether Mrs. Wright was eventually released from jail due to lack of evidence, but it is apparent that Mrs. Peter eventually told her husband the murder story. Moreover, it is not told where Nora could be heading to after breaking-up with her husband (Meyer, 1057). In conclusion, we can see women to be industrious and achieving their set goals. We can therefore say that women can as well play men's roles successfully, even without any assistance and their roles should not be infringed by the traditional definition of the gender roles which acts as a barrier to women achieving or engaging in same duties as men.
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