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The men are strongly driven by their legal duties, and this equates their power as men with the power of the law. But, of course, the men’s allegiance to the law, which they see as a moral duty, is also self-serving. It is the male dominated law that helps to make the men feel and see themselves as important, which gives the men such power over their wives. The gender roles in this play are powerful becausemen control institutions like the legal system. Men will be the ones who rule on Minnie Wright’s court case, and ultimately decide her fate.So it is that when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters hide the evidence that would condemn Minnie, their act of rebellion opposes both the power of the law and the power of their husbands. It’s important to note that this rebellion is neither natural nor easy for the women. They are timid and fearful when they enter the Wrights’ house, and it’s clear that the gender restrictions of their society have prevented them from almost ever making independent decisions from their husbands. When the women discuss their dislike of the way the men invade, inspect, and judge Minnie’s domain, the home, but then remind themselves that the men are only doing what they’re supposed to do, it is as if they are playing out the way that their sense of what’s right is at war with their awareness of duty, both legal and marital. Yet, ultimately, these two women elect to side with Minnie, to protect her in whatever way they can, and hide the dead bird. Theirsense of solidarity with a fellow oppressed woman outweighs the legal duty their husbands insist on.Justice:Triflesmight be described as a kind of murder mystery. Yet a murder mystery usually ends with the criminal being brought to justice, and instead in this murder mystery it is the idea of justice itself that is complicated. In discovering the dead bird, Mrs. Haleand Mrs. Petersfind evidence that serves as a motive for Minnie’s killing of her husband but also, from their viewpoint,
somewhat justifies Minnie Wright’s act of murder. They understand that Minnie’s act was not just a murder, but an escape. That her husband’s cruel of strangling her pet bird was not the sole reason she murdered him, but rather that the act was the culmination of the social oppression and socially sanctioned loneliness that has essentially strangled Minnie herself. And they see this because they themselves have faced the same prejudice and mistreatment, as when Mrs. Hale says, “we all go through the same things—it’s all just a diferent kind of the same thing.”Mrs. Hale also accuses herself of the crime of not having supported her neighbor, asking, “who’sgoing to punish that?” In this moment when Mrs. Hale turns the blame on herself, the play also highlights all of the men who aren’t blaming themselves, and how many of the men’s crimes of varying magnitude will go not only unpunished but unnoticed by the male-controlled powers that be. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters hide the evidence of Minnie’s act because the legal system cannot fairly punish, account for, or even comprehend the vast array of crimes that have been committed against women in general and Minnie in particular.