The play “Trifles,” by Susan Glaspell, written in 1916 is based on a real life murder that Glaspell came across as a young reporter. Inspired by her observations, she was able to turn the tragic event into a one-act play which involved a farmer named John Wright, who was strangled by the neck in bed. The main suspect is assumed to be his wife (Minnie Foster), who is placed in jail and does not appear on the scene. Instead two female characters, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, become the voice for Mrs. Wright throughout the play. A division is displayed amongst the genders within this play, and the setting and character roles are used to it point out. “Trifles,” by Glaspell uses irony and symbolism to uncover the importance of female identity versus the law by allowing the two women and Minnie Foster to seek revenge over male authority.
As the play opens, the readers are given a sense of separation between the genders, which brings about irony. The women enter the scene following behind Mr. Henderson, the sheriff, and Hale, and they stand close together. When Mr. Henderson placed his hands in a sticky mess behind the preserves spilling, Hale took it upon himself to isolate the women by stating, “Women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 322). The statement was ironic considering that it gives the play its title. Furthermore, Mr. Hale was implying that woman are used to worrying about the little things in life. He was poking fun at the ladies and belittling them, but he and the other men fail to see that the little detail is what gives a motive. It is the women who get the last laugh by finding all the evidence within the kitchen to form a motive which the sheriff said contained “nothing […] but kitchen things...
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...otive and in return for their mocking. As the play closes the attorney asks the women, “what is it you call it”, referring to the quilt, Mrs. Hales places her hand against her pocket and replies “we call it—knot it” (Glaspell 332). “Knot it” is used in significance to showing the women’s revenge by symbolizing the female characters knotting away the evidence and motive that they have found. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter are able to join together in unity with disregards to the law to help Minnie foster.
From this play, the audience is given a clear view of diversity between the men and women during the time period. United, Minnie, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were able to get the last laugh by seeking revenge over male authority. In the beginning the women struggle with their duty to law, but they end with a motive and understand that all woman go through the same things.
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