While reading Susan Glaspell's play Trifles, the use of characters, descriptive language, and symbolism teaches the audience that one person's home and one person's way of living can also be an introduction to one person's private hell. Throughout the play, discoveries are made to teach the audience that maybe things are not what they seem and that sometimes people must take a deeper look into what is around them.
Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters, the county attorney, and the sheriff are the four main characters of the play that introduce the audience to the crime that has just been committed. The sheriff and Mrs. Peters are married so the audience also learns from these characters and their interactions what is expected out of a wife. These four characters, while showing the audience, the house, and the background of the murder, teach the audience how society was acting at that time and what was expected from the opposite sex. While the men are talking, they start to listen to Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters in the room and their bickering over preservatives. One of the men even says, "Well, women are used to worrying over such trifles" (6). When the county attorney makes this statement, the women become aware that the men are listening to the words that they are saying but the men do not really care about the women's opinions and continue their mocking discussion. This behavior reminds Mrs. Hale of Mrs. Wright and her husband.
Mrs. Hale has memories of Mrs. Wright and the way she used to be before her marriage to Mr. Wright. She feels ashamed that she did not help Mrs. Wright and says, "I might have known she needed help! I k...
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...round them, which helps them look deeper into the setting, while the symbolism used helps the audience realize there are deeper meanings to the simplest things like a birdcage.
Banner, Lois. Women in Modern America: A Brief History. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1974.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin's, 2000. 127-137.
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, 1995.
Hewitt, Nancy. "Beyond the Search for Sisterhood: American Women's History in the 1980's."Social History. Vol. 10: No. 3 (1985): 299-321
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