Glaspell’s Trifles is not only an example of feminist art, but demonstrates how our social discourses are often fragmented according to the roles we play within this same greater framework. Namely, the female characters possess a certain attitude towards the patriarchic setting in which they live, for example, Margaret’s accusation for murder is advanced by the patriarchal male society, whereas her sympathizers are women. In other words, the structure of the male-female relationship is inevitably determined by whether one is looking at this relationship from a male and female perspective. This may seem to be a fairly self-evident statement, but when placed in a feminist context such as in Trifles it can serve as a powerful form of critique of the dominant male discourse: women, according to their marginalized position in this social discourse, are able to view the blindspots, exclusions, and presuppositions of the latter. In the exposure of these elements, Glaspell simultaneously critiques them.
In so far as modernist literature may be understood as a certain radicalization of traditional narrative forms, since themes of plot, language, and even character development break with traditional patterns, this at once gives the modernist author an almost limitless creativity in regards to how she or he may approach the subject matter at hand. This appears evident in O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, whereby the stage play becomes something almost unrecognizable, with its guttural language and utter bleakness. Whereas on the one hand, the initial reaction to such a play could be seen as a simple adolescent provocation, on the other hand, when placing the play in the greater context of modernism, O’Neill’s work becomes an exploration of the possibilities invoked when we break from traditional narrative expectations. The bleakness of the play, in my view, is thus counteracted by its clear assertion of creativity at work.