THEME.

“Trifles” is a play written by a female writer, Susan Glaspell which is for the Provincetown Player and credited for the 1916 season although she had previously never written a drama. When Susan Glaspell and her husband George Cook arrived in Greenwich Village in the middle of an artistic renaissance, Glaspell began to write openly about issues relating to similar themes and concerns inherited from women writer in 19th century with their well-known female literary figures, two of which included Kate Chopin and Fanny Fern. Chopin and Fern wrote about the inequality of the sexes and the inability of women to live their own lives without reliance on men. The literary “Trifles” itself is written by a female writer who concerns about women’s feelings and men perceptions towards them. The ironic title itself provide insights of the theme that women’s concern with “trifles” (unimportant stuff) may get to the heart more effectively than the preoccupations of self-important which men always do. The settings of the play itself focus on the two female characters whom lingering at the crime scene in the house, Mrs. Peters the sheriff’s wife and Mrs. Hale. The setting of the play itself mostly focused in the kitchen and stuff which always men prescribed as “unimportant” or “women’s stuff” such as the sewing box, shawl and apron and the quilt which both of them wonder whether Mrs. Wright (Minnie Foster) is going to knot or quilt her unfinished quilt. Glaspell uses a symbolic feature to represent issues concerns about women’s feelings and men perceptions towards them. For example, the canary bird in the cage represents Minnie’s herself and her heart. Canary can sing beautifully as she is used to sing in the Church before married to Mr. Wright and after she married, she is the canary, caged and being a prisoner. Mr. Wright is the men manifestations who think they own women and have superiority towards them until they thought women don’t have brains to think and they shall control 110 percent over them. The name itself where how the name “wRIGHT” is written symbolizes that how men think they always right and think wisely. The act of the canary’s killing by Wright symbolizes that “it is right” to kill his wife, Minnie personality and freedom where bird itself is always related with the symbol of “peace” and “freedom”. After married to Mr. Wright, Minnie rarely seen out of the house and she is no longer sings in Church, moreover she is known as Mrs. Wright. It is Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale themselves who find out from the sewing box and the dead canary that the actual killer of Mr. Wright is his wife himself. By understanding each other women’s heart, they understand how Minnie is frustrated living in captive where she really wants a child but her husband will never allow her to, and even to make friends with a Canary is prohibited. The killing of Mr. Wright (men) represents how Minnie (women) can live without being dependant to men and to have the EQUAL OPPORTUNITY with men and BE FREE over themselves (women) before or after their marriage. Men could say that women cannot think but one thing they failed to do is to understand women’s heart and in “Trifles” both the three gentlemen found nothing useful that could help them to find the murderer and both Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters decided that Minnie Foster “knot” her quilt (strangle Mr. Wright) and they will “kNOT” going to tell their findings (their intentions of understanding and to protect Minnie).

CHARACTERS. Susan Glaspell's Trifles explores how male assuming that women frequently worry about unimportant stuff. This stereotype makes the assumption that only males are concerned with important issues that females would never discuss. The male characters spend the entire of the play searching for clues to solve a murder case. Ironically, the female characters, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, find out the important evidence and solve the case, not the male characters. The men in the play, the Sheriff, County Attorney, and Mr. Hale search for evidence on their own, and mock the women's discussions about the quilt. From the broken bird cage door and dead canary which are assumed to be unimportant is what leads to the crime solving. The women are able to discover who the killer is by paying attention to detail, and prove that the items which the men consider insignificant are important after all. Mr. Hale. (A neighbouring farmer) Mr. Hale is a neighbouring farmer of the Wright’s family. Mr. Hale is a straightforward and honest man who discovers firstly the dead of Mr. Wright when he stops by the Wright’s house to share a telephone line. In funny way, slowly he finds out that Mrs. Wright is involved with the murder. Mr. Henry Peters (The Sheriff) Mr. Henry Peters is the local sheriff who involves in investigating the murder case of Mr. Wright. From his wife, Mrs. Peters, we know he is a strict man of discipline and give a great influence towards people around him. Mrs. Peters says to Mrs. Hale “law is the law” (pg 776) means more that she is much influenced from her husband behaviour and custody. Sheriff is a political and a legal office held under common law, where here Mr. Peters character represents the law. George Henderson. (County Attorney) The scene description describes the county attorney as a young man. Probably he is the youngest among them all. Henderson is a very careful man and serious with his job. He asks Mr. Hale about the crime scene in full detail from what happened when Mr. Hale enters the house and what Mrs. Wright is doing when she enters the house and the condition of her, how queer she is. Henderson also asks some question about the Wright’s family from Mrs. Hale as they are their own neighbour. Hence, after asking all these questions he himself tries to investigate the crime scene for any proof to solve the crime. Unlucky, he found nothing and keeps on searching. A county attorney in many areas of the United States is the chief legal officer for a county or local judicial district. It is usually an elected position. The role of the county attorney can be similar to or complementary to that of a local State's Attorney, Commonwealth's Attorney or District Attorney. Mrs. Hale (Mr. Hale’s wife)

Mrs. Hale is a wife of Mr. Hale and a neighbour of the Wright’s family. She is a woman full of curiousity and she is the first who questioned whether Minnie killed her own husband. (Pg776 “Mrs. Hale: Do you think she did it?” . Fortunately her curiousity leads to the crime solving where she found out the evidences (with Mrs. Peters) the actual killer of John Wright. She lives around with the Wright’s family and a friend of Minnie but since a year she didn’t drop by to see Minnie because she didn’t seems to like the dull and not cheerful environment of the Wright’s family house. Later she regrets so much for she does not even drop by to visit or to check Minnie because she is awful busy with her house and family either she dislike the dull house of the Wright’s family.

Mrs. Peters (The Sheriff’s wife). The sheriff’s wife described as a slight wiry woman with a nervous face, married to the law as described by her husband. pg 781 Sherrif: (chuckling) Married to the law. Influenced by her husband disciplined job makes her to become as a well disciplined person. Pg 776 Mrs. Peters: But Mrs. Hale, law is the law. Such statement also represents how women stereotyped themselves that they cannot think, make decision and do things they like as they are bounded by the law. (The law saying that women must stick with her husband rules and being dependant with them). Strangely, both these female characters are the “detective” or the person who discovers Minnie true feelings. From Minnie’s quilt, they know Minnie is nervous for something while sewing (pg 777 Mrs. Hale: What do you suppose she was so nervous about?). They know Minnie buy a canary from someone who Mrs. Hale knows as selling it cheap and Mrs. Peters acknowledge the Wright’s family doesn’t own a cat. Both of them know how Minnie’s feeling when John Wright kills the precious Canary of Minnie.

Minnie Foster. (John Wright’ wife).

Minnie lives in a dull farmhouse with her husband. She used to sing but her husband didn’t allow her to. (pg 780 Mrs. Hale: … She used to sing. He killed that, too.) The canary symbolizes her own personality. The canary is caged as how she is captive by her husband and when Wright kills the bird, he kills Minnie’s hobbies, interests and freedom. The bird is now free, but dead. John Wright. Both the female characters know Mr. Wright as a good man. Wright is not addicted to alcohol, a man of word and pays his debts. (pg 778 Mrs. Peters: …They say he was a good man.) But Mrs. Hale describes Mr. Wright as a hard man. Wright kills Minnie’s one and only canary. The act of the bird killing represents how Wright kills Minnie’s herself. He keeps Minnie captive where he didn’t allow her to stick with her hobbies and interests. Minnie used to sing in Church but after married, Mr. Wright didn’t allow her to (the act of the bird killing). Here it represents how men in some cruel way keep their wives as a prisoner and their (wives) prisoner must stick to the (husband) rules. He died when Minnie at last strangled him in his sleep.

PLAY STRUCTURE AND PLOT.

Plot determined the way of how events played in a work of literature. Plot structure in a dramatic hand consists of conflicts that are revealed, intensified and resolved trough the characters’ action. In “Trifles” by Glaspell, The plot is a detective mystery, the investigation of a murder not by the official investigators (the Sherriff or the county attorney) but, in a now common reversal of the genre, by amateur observers or by the trifles themselves which refer to Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. Same as other literature work of short stories or drama, the play structure consists of the exposition as a beginning and introductory of the story followed by a rising action, climax, falling action and resolution to end the story. In 1863, German critic Gustav Freytag devised a pyramid to represent the plot of a dramatic work. A play typically start with exposition which presents characters, settings and basic situation which the characters are in and during the rising action all the crisis, conflict and suspense occur. The climax is a point where the plot’s tension peaks. Finally in falling action the intensity subsides and falling down to resolution where all dilemma ends up. The exposition of the story begins at the crime scene of the Wright’s family farm house. The main characters in the play, the Sheriff, his wife, the County Attorney and a man named Hale and his wife all enter and gather near the fire that has been laid to keep the house warm overnight. As they settle in the Sheriff questions, Mr. Hale describes about what happened the day he founds Mr. John Wright’s dead. He described how queer Mrs. Wright is when he asks to see Mr. Wright. She tells that Mr. Hale can’t see Mr. Wright because he is now dead and find Mr. Wright himself lying dead upstairs. The rising action of the story in somehow a funny way come when both Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters lingering at the kitchen and somehow investigating all the evidence of the crime. They find out that Mrs. Wright is piecing a quilt in a log pattern (pg 777 Mrs. Peters: She was piecing a quilt) and from the way Mrs. Wright sews, they know how nervous she is and wondering what is Mrs. Wright so nervous about (pg 777: Mrs. Hale: What do you suppose she was so nervous about?). Other crime evidences that they find out is the broken bird cage. They wonder if the cat got the bird or died in some way. The climax came when they found the dead canary in Mrs. Wright sewing box. They revealed the motives of the bird killing, where Mr. Wright wrung its neck and find out the actual killer of him. The act of killing the bird by Mr. Hale represents how he kills Minnie personality, interests and hobby. Minnie used to sing in Church but after married Wright didn’t allow her to and she must obey her husband, (the law). The bird itself is caged and lonely like Mrs. Wright. The act of killing the bird may have brought the wrath and resistance for Minnie to her husband. She decided to become herself again (not caged and lonely) by the act of killing her own husband. Both Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters find out all the evidences.

The falling action is more to the situation where Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale reconstruct the evidences and their findings. They find out the true murderer of Mr. Wright with all the evidences and all the motives of the killing. Mrs. Hale understands how a lonely woman lives in a dull farmhouse and keeps captive by her own husband. Mr. Hale didn’t allow Minnie to go out of the house often as Mrs. Hale tells that she rarely out of the house. When Mr. Hale kills Minnie’s only friends of the house, both the detective ladies understand how much pain and anger Minnie is. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale reconstruct the situation by the bad sewing of Minnie, the broken bird cage and the dead canary in Minnie’s sewing box. Finally, the resolution comes out where both Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale conceal the evidences of the crime. They don’t reveal all their findings (the bad sewing of Minnie, the broken bird cage and the dead canary). Both the detectives ladies decided that Minnie knot her quilt (symbolize how she strangle her own husband) and they will kNOT going to tell their findings. The perfect reason is because they really understand Minnie’s feelings and situation (as women understand women) and their intention to protect her.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful