Trifles, By Susan Glaspell Essay

Trifles, By Susan Glaspell Essay

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The play “Trifles,” by Susan Glaspell, written in 1916 is based on a real life murder that Glaspell came across as a young reporter. Inspired by her observations, she was able to turn the tragic event into a one-act play which involved a farmer named John Wright, who was strangled by the neck in bed. The main suspect is assumed to be his wife (Minnie Foster), who is placed in jail and does not appear on the scene. Instead two female characters, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, become the voice for Mrs. Wright throughout the play. A division is displayed amongst the genders within this play, and the setting and character roles are used to point it out. “Trifles,” by Glaspell uses irony and symbolism to uncover the importance of female identity versus the law by allowing the two women and Minnie Foster to seek revenge over male authority.
As the play opens, the readers are given a sense of separation between the genders, which brings about irony. The women enter the scene following behind Mr. Henderson, the sheriff, and Hale, and they stand close together. When Mrs. Peters tries to explain sticky mess on the shelf in the kitchen, Hale took it upon himself to isolate the women by stating, “Women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 322). The statement was ironic considering that it gives the play its title. Furthermore, Mr. Hale was implying that woman are used to worrying about the little things in life. He was poking fun at the ladies and belittling them, however he and the other men fail to realize that the little detail is what gives a motive. It is the women who get the last laugh by finding all the evidence within the kitchen to form a motive which the sheriff said contained “nothing […] but kitchen things” (321). The women ...


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... it” (Glaspell 332). “Knot it” is used in significance to showing the women’s revenge by symbolizing the female characters knotting away the evidence and motive that they have found. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter are able to join together in unity with disregards to the law to help Minnie foster.
From this play, the audience is given a clear view of diversity between the men and women during the time period. In the beginning the women struggle with their duty to the law because of their lost identities. However, they end with a motive and understanding that all women go through the same things. Through the use of irony and symbolism, Glaspell has turned a murder case into a play that gives women gain their identities. United, Minnie, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were able to get the last laugh by step outside of society’s boundaries and seeking revenge over male authority.

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