Shantifiney Franklin English 102 October 19, 2009 Critical Essay of Trifles Susan Glaspell Susan Glaspell was born on July 1, 1882 in Davenport, Iowa. She began her career as am author of short stories of popular magazines such as the Des Moines Daily. She cofounded Provincetown Players, a group who worked with experimental drama. Glaspell can best be described as a director, feminist, author, and actress. Glaspell died in 1948 (“Biography” 1). Trifles is based on a true story. …”On a cold December night, in an Iowa farmhouse, John Hossack was sleeping in his bed when someone struck him in the head with an axe.
His wife, Margaret, claimed she was awakened by the noise of blows, which sounded like one block of wood striking one another, but evidence suggested she was the murderer. Her motive, according to the authorities, was unhappiness within a bad marriage” Trifles 1). It took Glaspell two weeks to the write the play, and it was performed on August 5, 1916.
The characters in the play are the sheriff, the county attorney, Hale, Mrs. Peters, who is the sheriff’s wife, and Mrs. Hale. The sheriff and the county attorney are there to investigate, while the women, who belong to the Ladies’ Aid, are there to gather some of Mrs.
Wright’s belongings for her because she is being held for the murder of her husband. The setting takes place at the abandoned farmhouse of the Wright family. It is very gloomy, dark, cold, and lonely (Glaspell 1046). It is never made clear if Mrs. Wright killed her husband or not. Perhaps she suffered from a mental break down from the treatment of her husband. She is described as being sweet, pretty, timid, and fluttery. It would take a lot for someone of this description to commit murder (Glaspell 1053). Throughout the play, Mrs.
Hale stands beside Mrs. Wright even though it seemed like everyone would rather lock her up and throw away the key. Mrs. Peters has mixed feelings about the situation. In my opinion, it is because of the way the men have viewed the case. The women both agreed that Mrs. Wright did exclude herself from community activities as well as the community (Glaspell 1050). There is a lot of symbolism throughout the play. The men overhear the women talking about Mrs. Wright’s quilt, wondering if she were going to quilt it or knot it and they laugh at the women.
Mrs. Hale is immediately offended by the way they laughed at them, where Mrs. Peters is apologizing because “they have a lot on their minds,” even though they have time to joke with the women (Glaspell 1051). In my opinion, this describes Glaspell as being sexist. She adds the part in of Mrs. Peters apologizing in order for the men to not have anything against her during the time when men had the most authority. The birdcage represents how Mrs. Wright was trapped in her marriage and could not escape from it.
The birdcage door is broken which represents her broken marriage to Mr. Wright. It also represents her breaking away from her pain and misery (Glaspell 1052). The title of the play is ironic. There is still the fact that when in jail, she is still concerned with “trifles. ” She is concerned with trifles such as having an apron, asking for her shawl, and worrying over her fruit (Glaspell 1049-1050). These do not appear to be the concerns of a woman who took charge of a life altering event. In my opinion, her life is still the same. It is the life of Mr. Wright that has changed.
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