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Critical Analysis of the Play Trifles by Susan Glaspell

Critical Analysis of the Play "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell


The play trifles is a true murder mystery by Susan Glaspell. The setting is in a lonely, cold landscape of the Wright’s kitchen, where the action of the play takes place. The kitchen is in disorder with unwashed dishes, a dirty dishtowel, and a loaf of bread sitting out. The scene gives the impression of a lonely household with little attention having been paid to cleaning up recently.

Three men, Sheriff Peters, the court attorney Mr.Henderson, and the neighbor Mr. Hale, enter the house. Behind the men are two women. One is Mrs. Hale, the neighbors wife and Mrs. Peter’s, the Sheriff’s wife. Both women stand by the door while the men go over to the stove to warm themselves up. The fact that two women are behind the men is a way of introducing the fact that women are inferior to the men and are supposed to follow behind their husbands. The sheriff asks Mr. Hale to describe everything that he saw the morning he discovered Mr. Wright’s body. He explains the events of his coming to the house and talking to Mrs. Wright.

Throughout the play the dialogue between the men allows us to see the demeaning view the men have for women. Mr. Hale declares that "women are used to worrying about trifles" (Glaspell 940) In saying this he is demeaning the many tasks and details women are responsible for. This also shows his ignorance of how those duties are crucial in allowing a household to function smoothly, he implies their unimportance.

When the men leave to investigate up stairs, the two ladies are left in the kitchen by themselves. Instead of focusing on the men in the case, the play concentrates on the women. They engage in small talk and without even knowing it, they use the tactics that a trained police officer would be using to figure out a mystery. They talk about how the kitchen was left after the murder. The reference to bottles of broken preserves shows how Mrs. Wright was much like these preserves. She herself stays on the shelf, alone on the farm, until the coldness of her marriage and her life breaks her apart. Mrs. Peter then notices that Mrs. Wright had been knitting a quilt. As the...

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Category:   Plays

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