The fact that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are addressed as such while the men are called “County Attorney” and “Sheriff” somehow simply affords the women a rather cheap, subservient role of a wife and somehow demeans the role of women in society in general.
Aside from being assigned subservient roles, the women in the play are shown to be “worrying over trifles,” which implies that women in 20th century America are concerned about anything but useful (Glaspell). In the play, Haley somehow ridicules the women for “worrying over trifles” because instead of worrying about the crime, they worry a lot about the preserves that Mrs. Wright has left frozen (Glaspell). The two women also busy themselves with other “trifles” such as Mrs. Wright’s sewing things (Glaspell). The fact that women are shown to be worrying over trifles may also imply that they too should be treated like trifles themselves.
The play also shows that women are inferior to men and should simply just keep themselves silent. What Mrs. Hale means when she mentions, “We think the—cat got it,” seems to be the old expression to mean that one is speechless: “Has the cat got your tongue?” (Glaspell. Holstein 285). This means that women in America in the early 20th century somehow did not have a voice of their own in a male-dominated society. In fact, throughout the whole play, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are considered ignorant by the men. The suspect Mrs. Wright may also have been forced to keep silent by her husband, and so this could have become her motive for killing him. Moreover, one symbol in the play used to show that the silence of women is the dead bird in the birdcage with its neck wrung. The singing bird was once Mrs. Wright – “one of the town girls singing in the choir” (Glaspell).