Susan uses her writing to show how women were socially isolated in early 20th Century American culture. One way she communicates this throughout the play, is when the only woman referred to by her own name is Minnie, the abused wife and killer. The other women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, are only referred to by their surnames, insinuating that they have no identity beyond being somebody’s wife. Keep in mind, when Glaspell married, she kept her birth name and did not change her last name to that of her husband’s. (a very bold thing to do in early 20th Century America).
Another interesting point is that Minnie had to give up participating in the church choir because her husband didn’t allow her to go. This cut off not only her contact with others, it cut off her contact with God. Sadly, this type of social isolation happened in real life, too. It was common up until the 1960s for women to avoid or discontinue certain activities simply because their husbands told them to. There were women like Susan who did as they pleased, but they were the exception, not the rule, in a “respectable” society. Most independent women were seen as bossy, rude, or immoral for not knowing their places in society.
Today the plight for marriage equality continues to run hot in the veins of American women. Although more women are in the workforce compared to the 20th Century, they are still only earning about 71% of men’s wages. Susan would find this distressful and would fight to increase the number of woman leaders/shareholders in corporate America today along with their earning power. On the other hand, more and more men are taking the role of stay-at-home dads which Susan would have found to be delightful!
If Susan were alive today she would continue to communicate the message: A woman has a voice and a choice! There is no doubt in my mind that Susan would continue to be an advocate for women and would continue to lead the way for women to earn the respect they deserve.