4/23/2013 9:43 PM
Susan Glaspell’s brief but to the point style makes her writing packed with meaning and bite. Within the first four pages of Suppressed Desires Glaspell introduces the characters, their relationships, and who they are as human beings. The play opens with Henrietta and Steve seated for breakfast. By the fourth line, Glaspell succinctly portrays the couple as not only husband and wife, but Henrietta the self-proclaimed student of psychoanalysis and Steve her unwilling patient. What makes Glaspell’s piece fascinating is the way she turns the tables to make psychoanalysis work against Henrietta. After sending them to Dr. Russell, it is never clear if the all-knowing doctor revealed Steve and Mabel’s suppressed desires, or if they only buy into Dr. Russell’s power of suggestion. These characters may have suppressed desires, but instead of looking deep within themselves they ask other people – a doctor – to find it for them. Therefore, these desires never seem to be addressed, leaving one to wonder if their true desires ever reveal themselves.