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Analysis of the Play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell

Analysis of the Play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell

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The Play “Trifles” written in 1916 by Susan Glaspell was inspired by a murder event she covered and reported in Iowa town. Years later after the events, Glaspell compiled her observations and experiences and wrote the play. The main characters in the play are Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Wright. Though Mrs. Wright is the key character, she does not appear on stage, but only referred to by other characters because she has been imprisoned.

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He play opens with a murder scene where Farmer John Wright has been murdered. It is assumed that he was strangled late in the night and a rope is seen snoozing around his neck. As the attorney, the sheriff, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters converse around the murder scene, all the evidence points toward his wife, and she is taken as the prime suspect. However, as the two men head upstairs to gather more evidece, the two women are left on kitchen looking around. It is then that they discover fascinating evidence (Glaspell 7).


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The main theme of the play is “men do not appreciate women”. After analyzing the play, I believe that men tend to be too serious, overly subjective and tough when doing investigations. This comes out clearly in the play as the attorney and the sheriff brush aside evidence saying “there is nothing here except kitchen things.” (Glaspell 8). However, the two women saw it differently when they discovered vital things such as an empty bird cage, a messy table, a fancy box among others. The women interpreted that Mr. Wright must have strangled the bird and hid it in the box. Since it was Mrs. Wright’s pet, she must have been agitated by her husband’s actions and killed him (Keller 12).

The play is allso symbolic in nature as it portrays the emotional and compassionate side of women. Since Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were positive that Mrs. Wright killed her husband, they hid the critical evidence, which was the “deceased bird” regarded as the “trifle” in the play (Keller 18). They are aware that if the evidence is discovered, the case against Mrs. Wright will be more complicated.

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In conclusion, my analysis of the play is that it conveys the hidden character of women. For instance, we are able to see that women are more observant, and can use their imagination to provide a critical evaluation of things. Furthermore, as the two women steal the little fancy box containing the dead bird is an act of loyalty and compassion to the female gender. Besides, the act can also be interpreted as an effort by women in defiance against a hugely patriarchal society.

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