In most fictional mystery novels and plays, the plot is androcentric and features an actively analytical male hero who discovers the identity of the murder by searching for evidence and reasons his way through the crime. Sherlock Holmes, for example, is generally dispassionate in his pursuit of murderers as he continually bests the police at their own jobs. Like Holmes, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale act as amateur detectives who circumvent the folly of official law enforcement, in the form of the sheriff and the county attorney. Unlike typical male crime solvers, however, the women of Trifles avoid the ruthless search for information that also characterizes Henderson and instead achieve their solution by the seemingly accidental observation of Minnie Wright s kitchen while simultaneously developing a desire to protect rather than condemn the perpetrator.
Of the two characters, Mrs. Hale begins the play with a greater suspicion of the designs of the men in their investigation of Mrs. Wright s crime. However, not until she compares the state of the Wright kitchen to her memory of Minnie Foster does she articulate that we all go through the same things--it s all just a different kind of the same thing, and she comes to accept her portion of blame for not alleviating Minnie Wright s loneliness. On the other hand, Mrs. Peters commences with the assumption that because she is married to the sheriff, she must uphold male definitions of duty and law. By the end of the play, she protects Minnie because she has chosen to empathize with someone who reflects her own needs rather than with the identity imposed by her marriage.