Trifles, By Susan Glaspell Essay

Trifles, By Susan Glaspell Essay

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One of the most important tools that an author uses to convey his message to the reader throughout the text is his language. It plays a vital role in setting the overall tone of the text and helps in foreshadowing with crumbs of symbols and imagery. This essay focuses on the play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, first performed on August 8th, 1916.

In order to understand the main idea of the play, it is important to understand details of the background of the author as it will help to illustrate a possible connection to the play.

Susan Glaspell, from Davenport, Iowa is only the second woman to win a Pulitzer Prize [1]. Much of her writing is strongly feminist, mostly dealing with how society viewed women and the prevalence of male dominance. Possibly, the idea behind the play “Trifles” was based on a woman named Margaret Hosack from Iowa, who is thought to have killed her husband due to his abusive behavior. Susan Glaspell was influenced by this story when writing ‘Trifles’ because she worked at the Des Moines Newspaper at the time of the event and in fact covered this story. [2]

When we talk about language, we are not just talking about vocabulary but also other aspects of language such as symbolism, imagery, figures of speech etc. Language is always interconnected with the themes of the play thereby making the main idea more understandable to the reader while attaining the objective of the language itself. This response will be focusing on language including the themes that Susan Glaspell uses to convey her message.
The theme of confinement is one of the major tools in Trifles that contributes to the overall message of the play, that of women’s role in society. The play portrays women as inferior to men and stuck with househ...


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...rs her face an instant) If they hadn 't held me back I would have—(catches herself, looks upstairs where steps are heard, falters weakly)—hurt him.” (Glaspell, pg). Mrs. Peters’ helplessness and inability to fight back, even though her pet animal is killed highlights the fact that male oppression had existed since early in her life. The author uses such common yet powerful symbols and references in the language in order to give a strong definition to the theme of male oppression.

Susan Glaspell carefully uses aspects of language and references in order to define themes which in turn back up the main message of the play, the role of women in society and their oppression, thereby strengthening the overall tone. Even though the language is not seen as the most important object in the text, it is a collection of tiny droplets of water which is the source of an ocean.

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