Trifles is a play by Susan Glaspell taking place in and around a farmhouse in 1916. The owner of the farmhouse, Mr. Wright, is found dead when his neighbor Mr. Hale makes an unannounced visit early one frigid morning. As he lets himself into the farmhouse he finds Mrs. Wright sitting in a rocking chair in the disarrayed kitchen. Eventually, she tells him that her husband is upstairs dead with a rope around his neck. While Mrs. Wright is in custody an investigation is taking place at the farmhouse and those in attendance include; George Henderson, the county attorney; Mr. Hale; Mrs. Hale; Henry Peters, the sheriff; and Mrs. Peters. While searching for a motive at the farmhouse the men were distracted because during that time period women were cast into low positions in society leading the men to mock the women in this play written by Susan Glaspell whom is known to produce work with strong feminist concepts.
Hale states “Well, women are used to worrying over trifles” (561). The same trifles he states women are worried over, are the trifles that if men paid attention to they would have plenty of evidence against Minnie Wright. In “A Jury of Her Peers” Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter basically decided the fate of Minnie. In “A Jury of Her Peers” Glaspell shows how there is criticism of a legal system that denied women the change of a fair trial by an all-man jury. They found evidence that the men could not find and decided “not to turn it in. All of this held a significant role in the story, but they are the ones that solved the case. In the play the sheriff mocks Mrs. Hale “They Wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it” (563). He also said something in “A Jury of Her Peers” on page 575 line 159. There are not many changes between the play and the short story. Most of the changes happen in the opening of the story when it is more detailed, as to where the play is all about action. If you are watching the play it is much better than the story because you can see all the action and
Trifles by Susan Glaspell is a one-act play centered around a woman, Mrs. Wright, who allegedly murdered her husband, Mr. Wright, in the night. There are no witnesses of his death; only unofficial confessions and he-said she-said talk. Without viable evidence and information (and the absence of Mrs. Wright altogether), the play soon focuses on a group of people who gather at the Wrights’ home the day after the murder. These characters include a male sheriff, county attorney, and neighboring farmer and their two wives. It is their job to determine what truly happened to Mr. Wright and piece together any evidence that would enable the conviction of Mrs. Wright. It is with the plot, setting, and overall use of symbolism that Glaspell communicates her message and themes. These messages and themes, which are the glue to the play, allow the audience to understand how unhappy of a life Mrs. Wright lived and how men viewed women’s roles as unimportant.
I. Article Summary: Suzy Clarkson Holstein's article, “Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell's 'Trifles'” evaluates the play Trifles and how the difference between the men in the play mirror how a woman's perspective is very different from a man's. Trifles is about two women, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, who show up at a house with their husbands and the county attorney to investigate a murder. The entire time the men are looking for evidence to implicate the accused wife, Minnie Wright, of killing her husband. Meanwhile, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are there to gather up some items to bring Minnie Wright in jail. While doing so, the women uncover evidence that would prove the wife is culpable but decide to hide it from the men in the last moments of the play. Trifles is evaluated on how the women are able to come up with the evidence unlike the men because they didn't approach it like a crime scene but rather a home, “By contrast, the women arrive at a home. Although neither they or the men realize it, they too are conducting an investigation” (Holstein 283). Holstein also notes they are able to find evidence because they use their own life experiences to relate to the accused murderer, Minnie Wright as shown here; “But the women do not simply remember and sympathize with Minnie. They identify with her, quite literally” (285). Holstein finishes the article by noting the women decide to hide the evidence because of the solidarity they feel towards Minnie Wright; “From Mrs. Hale's perspective, people are linked together through fragile, sometimes imperceptible strands. The tiny trifles of life –a neighbor's visit, a bird's song, the sewing of a quilt –have profound reverberations” (287).
Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, was written in 1916, reflects the author’s concern with stereotypical concepts of gender and sex roles of that time period. As the title of the play implies, the concerns of women are often considered to be nothing more than unimportant issues that have little or no value to the true work of society, which is being performed by men. The men who are in charge of investigating the crime are unable to solve the mystery through their supposed superior knowledge. Instead, two women are able decipher evidence that the men overlook because all of the clues are entrenched in household items that are familiar mainly to women during this era. Glaspell expertly uses gender characterization, setting, a great deal of symbolism and both dramatic and verbal irony, to expose social divisions created by strict gender roles, specifically, that women were limited to the household and that their contributions went disregarded and underappreciated.
The power of women is different than that of men. Women display a subtle and indirect kind of power, but can be resilient enough to impact the outside world. In Trifles, Susan Glaspell delivers the idea that gender and authority are chauvinistic issues that confirm male characters as the power holders, while the female characters are less significant and often weak. This insignificance and weakness indicated in the play by the fact that the women had the evidence to solve a murder, but the men just ignored the women as if they had no value to the case at all. This weakness and inability of the female to contest the man’s view are apparent. According to Ben-Zvi, “Women who kill evoke fear because they challenge societal constructs of femininity-passivity, restraint, and nurture; thus the rush to isolate and label the female offender, to cauterize the act” (141). This play presents women against men, Ms. Wright against her husband, the two women against their spouses and the other men. The male characters are logical, arrogant, and stupid while the women are sympathetic, loyal, and drawn to empathize with Mrs. Wright and forgive her crime. The play questions the extent to which one should maintain loyalty to others. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale try to withhold incriminating evidence against Mrs. Wright, and by challenging the reader to question whether
...ing and themselves, they see that Mrs. Wright is worth their protection, which has several meanings for the women. They come together with her against the law; they also protect her by not telling her the truth about her ruined preserves. Mrs. Hale regrets not protecting Minnie Wright from isolation and solitude, and she rushes to her defense and protects Minnie Wright earlier by helping her now.
As a strong feminist, Susan Glaspell wrote “Trifles” and then translated it to a story called “A Jury of Her Peers.” These works express Glaspell’s view of the way women were treated at the turn of the century. Even though Glaspell is an acclaimed feminist, her story does not contain the traditional feminist views of equal rights for both sexes.
To Kill A Canary: A Contrast and Comparison of Trifles To a Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell:
In 1917 when "A Jury Of Her Peers" was written, women were the homemakers. Although Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale fit the domest...
In Trifles, the play takes place at an abandon house at a farm where John Wright and his wife, Minnie Wright lived. John was killed with a rope around his neck while his wife was asleep. The neighbor, county attorney and sheriff came to the crime scene for investigation. Along with them came their wives, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters; they were told to grab some belongings for Mrs. Wright that she may need while she’s in custody. Once they all entered the home the men dismissed the kitchen finding it as unimportant. The three men focused more on legal regulations of the law. The play was mostly revolved around the women, discovering the motive through “trifles” and other symbolic things that had significance to Minnie’s guilt. When Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters understood the reason behind the murdering they hid the evidence from their husbands, and kept quiet. Many readers would visualize this play as a feminist point of view due to women’s bonding in discovering Minnie’s oppressive life after marriage. However Glaspell, provokes two ethical paradigms that have different perspectives of justice. Glaspell uses symbolism to characterize women’s method in a subjective way, by empowering themselves through silence, memories of her and their own lives as well as having empathy about her sit...
As soon as the county attorney, the sheriff, his wife and Mr. and Mrs. Hale walk into the Wrights house there is a clear division of power between the men and the women. The men walked in with harsh faces ready to get the job done, while the women plan on just sitting in the kitchen by the fire so that they can stay warm. The men surpass the kitchen on the way to the bedroom which is where Mr. Hale found Mr. Wrights dead body. The sheriff even made a comment saying: “Nothing here but kitchen things” (1414). While he was disrespectfully kicking around pots and pans and making comments criticizing Mrs. Wrights housekeeping sills. These remarks set the stage for the rest of the story and introduce to the readers the roles that women in society at this time were supposed to live by.
Susan Glaspell highlights the settings as theatrical metaphors for male dominated society in the early 20th century. “Trifles” begins with an investigation into the murder of Mr. Wright. The crime scene is taken at his farmhouse where clues are found that reveals Minnie Wright to be a suspect of murder. In the beginning of the play, it clearly embodies the problems of subordination of women. For example, there are two main characters in this play—Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, who are brought along with the sheriff and attorney to find evidence for Mr. Wright’s murder. The men gather and work together at the stove and they talk with each other in familiarity while women “stand close together near the door behind men” (Glaspell 444). Perhaps the location of the women standing behind the men near the door reflects also their secondary or inferior social standing in the eyes of the men. Moreover, it seems that the wo...
In fact, when Mrs. Hale comments that Mrs. Wright was not one for housekeeping, Mrs. Peters replies by saying “Well, I don’t know as Wright had either.” (748). The disheveled state that the house is in, as well as the fact that Mr. Wright is characterized as a hard man who is unwilling to share his part expresses the idea that their marriage was unhappy, and in turn, Mrs. Wright could have motive to harm him. Likewise, when the men leave the women to find clothes for Mrs. Wright, the two discover more possible evidence that the men will shrug off. For example, Mrs. Hale examines some quilt work that Mrs. Wright was working on, and notices that the most recent square is very sloppy compared to the rest of the work on the quilt. Moreover, the fact that they believe she crafted it by knotting is very significant (750). This correlation times closely with Mr. Wright’s time of death, and could indicate as a stressor, which the women can pick up on. Since the men laugh at their seemingly trivial observation, they are close to solving the crime on their
Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916), is a play that accounts for imprisonment and loneliness of women in a patriarchal society. The plot has several instances where women issues are perceived to be mere trifles by their male counterparts. The title is of significant importance in supporting the main theme of the story and developing the plot that leads to the evidence of the mysterious murder. Trifles can be defined as things of less importance; in this story dramatic, verbal and situational irony is used to show how the insignificant trifles lead to a great deal of truth in a crime scene investigation. The title of the story “Trifles” is used ironically to shape the unexpected evidence discovered by women in