Trifles is a play by Susan Glaspell. Trifles are trinkets, something considered insignificant or frivolous. The trifles in the play are not trinkets though, they are clues to solving the crime of murder that has been committed. As an audience member you know this from the beginning but it takes until Act III for Mrs. Peters to realize this and understand what really happened on that cold winter day when she found her husband dead at home with his hunting rifle beside him and his prized dog also dead upstairs in its bed.
“Trifles,” a play by George Farquhar about 18th century Scottish society, emphasizes culture-bound ideas of gender and sex roles, notably the idea that women were confined to the home and their contributions were overlooked. “This play also examines how we pursue the truth, interpret and explain it, as well as how we value it.” As the title of this drama implies, women’s issues are frequently dismissed as irrelevant distractions while men are seen to be doing “real work.”
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In this production, the value of men and women’s views is questioned as the play goes through the crime scene, where a woman is being charged with murdering her spouse, with various genders taking opposite viewpoints on how to try to fathom the accused widow’s intentions.
The neighbor, Mr. Hale, begins the narrative by describing what he knew about the murder of Mr. Wright. Mr. Hale went over to the Wright home to try and persuade his neighbor to install a phone so that everyone in their neighborhood could benefit from it. Because Mr. Hale had previously tried to get one set up for him and Mr. Wright flatly refused, he assumed that would be an even more difficult sell this time around.
So Mr. Hale, wanting to sell Mr. Wright on getting one, came to the house and proposed it in front of his wife, hoping that she would persuade her husband to do it. But when Mr So when Mr Hale arrived at the home and knocked on the door, no one answered. As a result , Mr Hale kept knocking until he heard someone say “come in.”
When he arrived, Mrs. Wright was sitting in her rocking chair, unaffected by his presence despite the fact that he had asked to see Mr. Wright. She stated you can’t see him. He questioned if he was there and she replied yes, before stating that he was dead by a rope around his neck. Mr Ifermann is shocked at this development and asks where he may be found, as if it were unimportant.
When the narrator describes what happened next. When Paul raced up to see Mr. Wright’s body as his wife had described, and he called the cops. When the soldiers display the men with their wives present to examine the crime scene. The males and women have two very distinct motivations for being there: the men, to fulfill their legal responsibilities, whereas the women, to gather personal belongings for Mrs. Wright who is incarcerated at Leavenworth Penitentiary.
The man who spoke to Mrs. Wright explains that she is only concerned about her preservative jars shattering owing to the cold weather because of this. The county attorney goes into a kitchen and points out that there is a mess where her fruit had frozen, breaking the jars “well, can you beat the women!”
To Hale’s, “Women are used to worrying about little things,” Wright responds, “I’ve been arrested for murder and I’m still worried about her. She is a woman who has been arrested for murder and worries about her preserves.” Her husband had already compelled her to give up her love of singing in the choir.
As the county attorney passes through the kitchen, the two women in the room move closer to one another, listening to him make degrading remarks about them regarding how they are only concerned with little things that have to do with their kitchen. The ladies defend her not necessarily because they were close friends of Mrs. Wright but because they comprehend farm life.
It becomes obvious at this stage that the ladies see things that the men don’t, despite their claims. They notice, for example, that Mrs. Wright had bread prepared, a significant detail indicating what she was doing before the event. They recall when she was Minnie Foster and note how unhappy her existence must have been, presumably because her spouse was an abusive thug.
The women are unsure if she did it, but Mrs. Hale assures them that she didn’t because she was concerned about “minor things” like her preserves and apron, which they do not consider to suggest any indications of rage or sudden passion. The two ladies are also irritated by the fact that the men appear to be “sneaking” about her home while she’s locked up in town and don’t like how they talk about her housekeeping abilities, especially since she didn’t have time to clean.
The men are laughing at the women, who stand over Mrs. Wright’s log cabin quilting project and debate whether she would knot or sew it, when suddenly the quilt is revealed as a very crucial piece of evidence. Although the majority of the quilt is extremely neat and flawless, there is a fragment that is “all over the place,” demonstrating that Mrs. Wright was not her usual meticulous self, which demonstrates she was in distress while quilting at that time.
Mrs. Hale adjusts the stitching to make it appear better, and she is more cautious and assured that the males have good intentions because of this. The two women come upon a birdcage that has been broken into in such a way as if it had been violently opened due to the considerable damage done to it.
Because while the ladies recall someone selling canaries, they don’t remember her owning a bird or a cat that may have gotten into it, but they do recall that in her younger days, as Minnie Foster, she used to sing like a beautiful bird but stopped doing so when she married her spouse.
The women also express remorse for not having visited Mrs. Wright’s home more often, blaming it on their busy lives and complaining husbands who were never at home with them when they had children and were consistently bad company.
The women are about to take the quilt with them and seek for scissors and a box. In it, they discover the bird with an obvious broken neck, as if it had been strangled violently, implying that Mrs. Wright’s husband had murdered her pet because she couldn’t handle any more abuse and killed him. The women’s method of knowing leads them to not simply understanding; it also influences how they decide what to do in light of their knowledge.
At this stage, the County Attorney steps in and asks (more than likely mocking them) if they thought Mrs. Wright intended to knot or quilt it; they respond that she was planning on tying it. The crime is compared to a bird being trapped under a net by Mr. Wright’s cat, who eventually catches the bird after much effort.
Mrs. Hale tells a little beginning of a tale about a youngster who scalped her kitten, alluding to the fact that she would comprehend how Mrs. Wright would feel if Mr. Wright murdered her bird. They could relate to how quiet and lonely it would be without the sound of a bird for comfort, which prompted Mrs It’s like being alone again.”
Women are then able to take power because of their knowledge. “As a result of understanding, the women are able to gain power ,” since they have been degraded all their lives for their low position, allowing them to keep quiet at the play’s conclusion. Because the men do not anticipate the ladies to offer anything to the inquiry, they are disinterested in what they have to say or in how useful their discoveries were in solving Mrs. Wright’s murder motive since they are considered unimportant.
The women believe they are guilty of a misdeed since they have never visited Minnie and take the box with the bird, which they put in their bag. The men then walk in and state that Mrs. Wright was, in fact, intending to knot it knowing she had murdered her husband, but they don’t have any proof.
I believe that Mrs. Wright’s case of schizophrenia was brought on by her husband’s emotionally abusive behavior. She couldn’t take it any longer, I believe, and she had a nervous breakdown as a result of her husband’s abuse. Once she snapped, she killed her spouse in the same manner he had been murdering her over the years, as well as the same way he murdered his canary. Mrs. Wright exhibited all of the classic symptoms of schizophrenia. She was emotionless; I believe she didn’t realize what she was doing at the time; gave one-word replies; and displayed signs of distress.
In Trifles, Susan Glaspell debates the roles of men and women during a time when such a discussion was not commonplace. Glaspell created Trifles in the early 1900s, when feminism was still relatively new. In this play, Susan Glaspell offers her perspective on gender roles and how she thinks things would turn out. On the surface, Trifles appears to be another murder mystery, but it has a much more significant meaning underneath.
Glaspell raises the issue that men and women view situations differently, and how these events are handled based on our interpretations of them. According to research, women’s brains “may be adjusted for combining analytical and intuitive thinking.” Men, on the other hand, have a stronger emphasis on “motor skills and actions” (Lewis). This study appears true in The Women when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters analyze facts rather than looking at visible evidence and discover the murderer’s motive.
The men, on the other hand, consider more broad evidence that doesn’t lead to any definitive conclusion. When Glaspell wrote this play, she intended for the women to be the real movers and shakers, who would ultimately solve the mystery. While the males in the tale mocked concerns like “trinkets” as “women’s business,” these aspects meant a great deal to Glaspell. Through particularity, Glaspell highlights what distinguishes men and women in their day-to-day lives.
Trifles, a one-act play by Susan Glaspell written in the early 1900s, depicts how women can overreact to their own feelings, resulting in judgment being clouded. This is demonstrated by describing the emotions of two women who are willing to defend a suspect, accuse the victim, and conceal evidence to protect another woman from being charged with murdering her spouse. Mrs. Wright is accused of killing her husband, who was strangled while sleeping and discovered with the rope still around his neck.
The sheriff and a lawyer are looking over Mrs. Wright’s residence for evidence. Mr. Henderson, the attorney, opines that “Here’s a tidy mess…Dirty towels! Is this lady a terrible housekeeper, ladies? ” (Kirszner & Mandell 1166) Mrs. Hale, the suspects neighbor, immediately defends Mrs. Wright: “A farm has a lot of labor to it . Those towels become filthy fast.”
Even though she has only met Mrs. Wright a few times, Edith Hale feels compelled to defend her against the insinuations of others. “I haven’t seen much of her lately years,” she confesses. (1166) Despite this, Mrs. Hale feels protective towards Mrs. Wright and fights for her innocence. The sheriff, with the aid of Mr. Henderson, goes upstairs in search of a motive. With no one else to talk to except for his wife’s counterpart at the police department, he is left alone with her.
The behavior of important and minor characters is exhibited by the play’s author, Agatha Christie. She categorizes the narrative as a true account based on her work as a journalist studying John Hossack’s murder. The characters in Glaspell’s drama exhibit preconceptions, particularly gender and cultural stereotypes.
Wiehardt explains that round figures are the primary characters in a piece of writing who face difficulties in their lives and become their turning point (1). They go through an unpleasant experience, which pushes them to transform.
A flat character is one that remains in the same position through the narrative, as opposed to progressing (Wiehardt 1). The play Trifles, by Neil Simon, includes two round characters like Minnie Foster and John Wright. However, there are several flat characters in the play, including Mrs. Hale and Mr. Hale.
Minnie Foster is an amiable, melodious, and always upbeat young woman in her early years (Glaspell 7). Because of the bright colors in her clothing, she is well-known among other youngsters. However, following her marriage to Mr. Wright, her happy disposition changed to sadness, causing only gloomy emotions to reign in her home.
Mrs. Hale, one of Mrs. Wright’s neighbors, describes her as beautiful, fearful, and cautious with all of her actions vanishing once the wedding ceremony is complete (Glaspell 5). Mr. Wright is Milly’s husband, a boorish uncouth brute who makes life hell for his devoted spouse. Minnie’s thirty-year marriage was nothing but misery.
Mr. Wright dies one night when he is sleeping. Surprisingly, Minnie claims that her spouse was strangled while she was fast asleep. Mr. Hale, her husband’s buddy, reports the death to the authorities. The Sheriff and attorney disregard her statements, so she is put in jail on suspicion of murder. After thorough investigation by the law, she is convicted of homicide because no evidence of another person appeared as she claimed.
Minnie is a round character according to Wiehardt, who labels her a “round character.” Her unchanging nature categorizes her as one, according to his comment on a round person. Although Minnie has a subservient and scheming demeanor, her husband’s tyrannical behavior turns her into a murderer and outrageous individual, resulting in her death after three decades of marriage. John Wright stands out as an example of a round character guided by chauvinism.
John Wright’s selfish, chauvinistic nature makes him an oppressor to his married woman. He insults, hates, and abuses his wife on a regular basis, turning her against him. Despite being boorish, unpleasant, and self-centered, he is overpowered by his spouse who kills him instantly. John Wright’s ability to reverse his domineering behavior shows that he is a round character. On the other hand, Gorge Henderson is a round figure that the author depicts as tough.
Wiehardt characterizes Henderson as an “unperson.” According to the writer, he is one of the flat characters. He is one of the cops investigating Mr. Wright’s murder case. He uses his professional credentials and expertise to lead the investigation. He is stern, serious, and unafraid to criticize other people’s ideas. Ironically, since he works in the field of criminal justice, he does not appear to care about Mrs. Wright’s Kitchen, which is a woman-owned business.
He focuses on her bedroom and barn, which are where her spouse spends the majority of his time. He convicts Mrs. Wright to prison as a law enforcer, despite having insufficient evidence. In addition, he is unable to unfold one of the key evidence, a box that describes Mrs. Wright as a murderer. The lack of attention by the attorney to other people, in particular women, reduces him to a flat character.
The other law enforcement officer at the crime scene is Sheriff Henry Peters. During the investigation, he supports the attorney. He also overlooks rooms in the house, such as the kitchen, that may nail Mrs. Wright down. He has a contempt personality, which means he kicks a basket belonging to Mrs. Wright but it could be evidence’s source. Mr. Hale stands out because of his illiteracy and unquestioning obedience as a flat character in this play.
The wife of Mr. Hale is Mrs. Hale. She is a neighbor of the Wrights, but she leaves the family because of frequent fistfights in the home. Nonetheless, when the family suffers a calamity, Mr. Wright’s death, she resurfaces and stumbles upon a box containing evidence against Mrs. Wright while hanging about the crime scene.
She is courageous, intelligent, and resourceful. She takes on the task of transporting a treasure chest for her husband because she believes it will be dangerous to do so herself. She does not want to endanger herself or anyone else by being caught breaking the law, so she hides the box instead of reporting it. As a woman, she decides to defy the lawmen and conceal the box. Her submissiveness and quietness are interpreted by society as appropriate behavior for her position. Mrs. Hale’s personality is defined as obedient and submissive; therefore, she is a flat character that isn’t ready to break the law illegally, thus secretes evidence in order to avoid getting caught.
Mr. Hale is a farmer, neighbor, and friend to the Wright family (Wade 2). He learns of Mr. Wright’s death after visiting his neighbors. He decides to notify the police station about the murder investigation. He follows the Sheriff and attorney during the inquiry because he is committed to discovering the truth.
However, his presence at the crime scene does little to alter the situation. Even after Mr. Hale learns of a crime, he is portrayed as a good neighbor, courteous and loyal to his image. The issue of stereotypes plays an important part in the play through the author’s careful allocation of various roles to her diverse characters, who then successfully represent preconceptions such as gender and cultural norms.
The characters in the drama are highly stereotypical. There’s both cultural and gender stereotyping going on. In society, men oppress women, a circumstance that women are unable to change. The kitchen is described as the woman’s place rather than the bedroom or barn in the play. Mrs. Hale decides to defend Mrs. Wright as a fellow woman and keeps away any evidence that she is a murderer because of prejudice.
In conclusion, there are two distinct sorts of characters in the play: round and flat characters. The Wright family is a round character since they have a lot of energy. Because their position and behavior are stagnant in the work, the remainder of the characters fall under flat personalities. Finally, stereotyping is an issue that the playwright clearly depicts. The women are submissive, standing out as individuals who submit to societal power because they want to be part of it.