Susan Glaspell's Use of an Unseen Central Character in Trifles
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In Trifles by Susan Glaspell, the central character remains unseen for the entirety of the piece. “The central character - the person whose actions are to be understood - is absent, thus rendering her all the more a figurative blank space” (Keetley 342). The audience never sees or hears Minnie Wright throughout the piece, and therefor cannot develop an accurate opinion of the outcome of the play, as they are missing vital information about Minnie’s personality. The audience and characters instead make several assumptions about the truth that cannot be verified without closer inspection of Minnie’s personality and experiences. Glaspell’s use of an unseen central character in Trifles causes the story to develop based on assumptions made by both the audience and the characters and ultimately leads the audience to question the outcome of the play.
“Almost every action of the farmwives in this tightly compressed play is designed to make Minnie's presence felt” (Noe 11). While it is true on first glance that the audience can empathize with Minnie and that her present is felt, on further inspection it is realized that without hearing from Minnie directly and seeing her responses to questions we cannot be certain of the outcome of the story. The audience creates the backstory of Minnie and John’s marriage without meeting either, or hearing about them from a reliable source. “His [Mr. Hale’s] comment that he didn’t think Minnie's view on the question would make any difference to her husband, as well as the discovery of the strangled canary and broken bird cage, suggests that Minnie was habitually silenced and dominated by her husband; and that conflict between the Wrights may often have been resolved through violence” (Noe 13). Given no ...
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