Symbolic Illustration of the Power of Relationships in Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Symbolic Illustration of the Power of Relationships in Susan Glaspell's Trifles

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Symbolic Illustration of the Power of Relationships in Susan Glaspell's Trifles


A friend can be a remarkable thing. Unfortunately, many lack the powerful bonds that all humans need to survive and lead healthy, happy lives. In Susan Glaspell's play Trifles, Mrs. Wright is starved of the human interaction and relationships she so desperately needs. Consequently, she is never rescued from her loneliness, is brought to the point where she cannot handle any more of life's saddening struggles, and kills her husband in his sleep. Through powerful and often ironic symbolism, such as Mrs. Wright's kitchen, the names of the characters, and the bird, Susan Glaspell clearly displays the power of human relationships and how truly devastating a lack of this absolute necessity can be.

One of the numerous symbols Glaspell uses to emphasize the importance of wholesome human relationships is Mrs. Wright's kitchen. Upon entering the crime scene, the men and women notice the unkept kitchen. They are alarmed by the "Dirty towels" (Glaspell 1174), the unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the breadbox," "the walls covered with a faded wall paper" (Glaspell 1172), and the "sticky" shelves (Glaspell 1174). The abrupt, incomplete work reflects the emptiness Mrs. Wright had bottled inside of herself and also displays the sudden sense of explosion she must have experienced to go as far as murdering Mr. Wright. Also, they see a small chair beside the kitchen table. Obviously intended for a child, the small chair illustrates Mrs. Wright's empty expectations of raising children. Mrs. Hale explains, "Not having children makes less work-but it makes a quiet house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in" (Glas...


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...there are so many that go unnoticed and unappreciated. Unfortunately, they do not know how to reach out for help until it is too late. There are also many others that see these lonely and depressed individuals, but no one ever does. Mrs. Peters explains regretfully, "Somehow we just don't see how it is with other folks until-something turns up" (Glaspell 1178). Many times, it is unfortunately too late to save a person. Through her powerful symbols, Glaspell stresses the importance of reaching out to those that are lonely and need emotional support before it is too late. After all, "We all go through the same things-it's all just a different kind of same thing" (Glaspell 1180).

Work Cited

Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking,
Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 1172-1181.

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