Susan Glaspell’s most memorable one-act play, Trifles (1916) was based on murder trial case that happened in the 1900’s. Glaspell worked as a reporter, where she appointed a report of a murder case. It was about a farmer, John Hossack who was killed while he was asleep in bed one night. His wife claimed that she was asleep next to him when the attack occurred. No one believed in her statement, she was arrested and was charged on first degree murder. 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... ... middle of paper ... ...women by making them look unimportant and what they do also insignificant which should be appreciated rather than made fun of. Works Cited Fisher, Jerilyn, and Ellen S. Silber. Women In Literature : Reading Through The Lens Of Gender.. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 25 Mar. 2014 Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen. Mandell. 8th ed. Boston: Wasworth, 2013. 773-84. Print. Holstein, Suzy Clarkson. "Silent Justice In A Different Key: Glaspell's 'Trifles.'." Midwest Quarterly 44.3 (2003): 282. Literary Reference Center. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. Mael ,Phyllis. "Trifles: The Path To Sisterhood." Literature Film Quarterly 17.4 (1989): 281. Academic Search Elite. Web. 25 Mar. 2014
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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 play “Trifles”, written by Susan Glaspell, is about the murder of a husband named John Wright. The Play starts out at the scene of the crime. A middleman named Hale who had dropped by to see if Mr. Wright wanted to install a telephone found him dead in his bed. Once the sheriffs arrive they comb through the crime scene looking for any evidence to prove the suspect, Wrights wife, guilty of the murder. The sheriffs brings along his wife, Mrs. Peters, and Mr. Hales wife to gather objects for Mrs. Wright while she waits in jail. As the men continue to search the gloomy old farmhouse, the ladies begin to gossip about Mrs. Wright and as to why she might have killed her husband. While shuffling through Mrs. Wrights things they find an empty bent birdcage and soon after find the bird that belonged to it dead,
... Jerilyn, and Ellen Silber. Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of a Gender.
In Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles a man has been murdered by his wife, but the men of the town who are in charge of investigating the crime are unable solve the murder mystery through logic and standard criminal procedures. Instead, two women (Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters) who visit the home are able to read a series of clues that the men cannot see because all of the clues are embedded in domestic items that are specific to women. The play at first it seems to be about mystery, but it abruptly grows into a feminist perspective. The play Trifles written by Susan Glaspell can be considered a revolutionary writing in it its advocacy of the feminist movement.
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...
"Trifles," a one-act play written by Susan Glaspell, is a cleverly written story about a murder and more importantly, it effectively describes the treatment of women during the early 1900s. In the opening scene, we learn a great deal of information about the people of the play and of their opinions. We know that there are five main characters, three men and two women. The weather outside is frighteningly cold, and yet the men enter the warm farmhouse first. The women stand together away from the men, which immediately puts the men against the women. Mrs. Hale?s and Mrs. Peters?s treatment from the men in the play is reflective of the beliefs of that time. These women, aware of the powerless slot that has been made for them, manage to use their power in a way that gives them an edge. This power enables them to succeed in protecting Minnie, the accused. "Trifles" not only tells a story, it shows the demeaning view the men have for the women, the women?s reaction to man?s prejudice, and the women?s defiance of their powerless position.
In Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles Mr. Wright’s murder is never solved because the two women in the story unite against of the arrogance of men to hide evidence that would prove Mrs. Wright as the murderer. The play Trifles is about the death of farmer Mr. Wright and how the town sheriff and attorney try to find evidence that his wife Mrs. Wright killed him. As the play progresses the men’s wives who had come along were discovering important pieces of evidence that prove the men’s theory but chose to hide from them to illustrate the point that their ideas should have been valued and not something to be trifled. The very irony of the play comes from its title trifles and is defined as something that isn’t very important or has no relevance to the situation that it is presented to. In this play the irony of the title comes from the fact that the men find the women’s opinions on the case trifling even though the women solve the crime which ends up being the downfall of the men as they would have been able to prosecute Mrs. Wright if they had listened which made the women’s opinions not trifling. Glaspell was born in an age where women were still considered the property of men and they had no real value in society in the eyes of men except for procreation and motherhood. This attitude towards women was what inspired Glaspell to write the play Trifles and to illustrate the point that women’s attitudes should be just as valued as men’s and to let women have a sense of fulfillment in life and break the shackles that were holding them only as obedient housewives. Trifles was also inspired by a real murder trial that Glaspell had been covering when she was a reporter in the year 1900. Glaspell is a major symbol of the feminist movement of l...
Trifles is based on a murder in 1916 that Susan Glaspell covered while she was a journalist with the Des Moines Daily News after she graduated from college. At the end of the nineteenth century, the world of literature saw a large increase of female writers. Judith Fetterley believed that there was an extremely diverse and intriguing body of prose literature used during the nineteenth century by American women. The main idea of this type of literature was women and their lives. The reason all of the literature written by women at this time seems so depressing is due to the fact that they had a tendency to incorporate ideas from their own lives into their works. Glaspell's Trifles lives up to this form of literature, especially since it is based on an actual murder she covered. This play is another look at the murder trial through a woman's point of view.
In the play Trifles, Susan Glaspell brings together three women through a crime investigation in the late nineteenth century. Glaspell uses symbolism, contrast of sexes, and well-constructed characters to show that justice for all equally important to finding the truth.
Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles, seems to describe the ultimate women’s suffrage story. No longer will men have an upper hand against women after reading this story. Cleverness will be the key to retaining power from the men in this story. The one thing that woman are criticized for, the idea that women tend to look at the ‘little picture’ instead of the ‘whole picture’, will be there path to victory. Two stories of revenge are told in this story, the revenge of suppression and revenge of being portrayed as ‘unsophisticated, unintelligent’ women. First we have the story of Mrs. Wright and the struggles with her husband, John. Married women throughout history have been portrayed and played the role as being inferior to the husband in marriage. This seems to be the case with Mrs. Wright. Even though John’s public image was somewhat respectable, it was obvious that behind close doors the story was different. There is evidence of abuse in this marriage. First, the discovery of the broken door leads me to conclude that John was very physical and anguished. Second, it is assumed that Mrs. Wrights husband had broke her canary’s neck. The canary, which of course had to be caged, was represented as the old Minnie Foster herself. The canary is a beautiful, free spirited bird that had a sweet voice, as Minnie had at one time. This was the end of the line and ‘Minnie Foster’ was about to be reborn. She would stand up for all those abused and suppressed house wives across the world and makes the first ‘final’ decision she had ever been allowed to make. The bird’s cage was her jail. The bird’s death was her freedom for the fate of the bird was the fate of her husband. John was discovered with a rope tied around his neck, the freedom of a women who could no longer be held down. This was the first implementation of women’s power in the story. The women at Mrs. Wright’s home played an important role in the story as well. The ‘professional’ detectives were busy about the house finding clues to indict Mrs. Wright in the murder case. They ridiculed the women in the house by ‘putting them in their place’ as typical ladies, so worried about small things and useless ordeals. Mrs. Hale noted the stitches in the quilt to be erratically stitched as if something were wrong.
Women have lived for generations being treated as nothing more than simple-minded creatures who were able to do little more than take care of their husbands and maintain a home, but that idea is dangerous. The years of abusing women by withholding their rights, belittling them, and keeping them in the home was sometimes detrimental to not only the female sex, but to the males sex as well. Susan Glaspell is the author of the short play “Trifle” , in which Mrs. Wright, the housewife of a local farmer, is being investigated for the murder of her husband. As a local county attorney, sheriff, and male neighbor scour the house for motive and proof that Mrs. Wright killed her husband, the men spend much of their time criticizing the housekeeping skills of Mrs. Wright and belittling every woman in the play for their simplicity. Their assumptions about the female sex, prevents them from seeing the crime scene for what it really was. Meanwhile, Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, and Mrs. Hale, the neighbor man’s wife, are able to relate in many ways to the loneliness and loss of self that Mrs. Wright felt while spending her days alone tending to her home and husband.
This supports the idea that men see women and their respective actions as incompetent and trivial. Another way Glaspell demonstrates the assumption that men view women as insignificant is by conveying the men's attitude towards a woman's work.
Fisher, Jerilyn, and Ellen S. Silber. Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.
Glaspell, Susan. "Trifles." Plays by Susan Glaspell. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc., 1920. Reprinted in Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia Eds. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 2004.
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