Defending the Play Trifles
In the play, Trifles by Susan Glaspell, is about a murder mystery of Mr. Wright. The men; the court attorney, sheriff, and Mr. Hale, a neighorbor to the Wright family, and the women; the sheriff’s wife, Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale, solve the mysery in two very different ways. The men show up at the house as a crime scene, and only focusing on the bigger, important elements of a murder mystery. As Mr. Hale was trying to explain everything he saw in the house that morning of Mr.
Wright’s death, he said “She was rockin’ back and forth.
She had her apron in her hand and was kind of – pleating it (1154)”. Meanwhile, Mr. Hale was looking for Mr. Wright, Mrs. Wright was kind of subtle and said you can’t. Mr. Hale was confused. All she said then was he has been murder. All three men go upstairs to talk and investigate the body. One the otherhand, the women approach the house as a home, and focusing on the trifles, meaning small detail or unimportant, such as baking mess, unfinished sewing, and unwashed pans & cleaning.
As the women are worried about Mrs. Wright’s trifles in the house the men like to make fun of them. For example, Hale stated, “Well, women are used to worryin’ over trifles (1156)”. Mrs. Wright loved making preserves as her fruit froze in the freezer and made a big mess that the two women were worried about, so the sheriff said “Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her perserves (1155)’. In society, as you can see, men tend to ingore the women’s world, blind to the truth before their eyes.
A critic once said Trifles is a lousy play because by the third page we already know who done it, so there isn’t much reason the sit through the rest of the play. A murder mystery does not have to keep the reader in suspense to who the culprit was, but why the culprit did it. The key element in the play Trifles is motive, the reason or emotion that drives a person to do something. What made Mrs. Wright drive to kill her husband? As the men look for any possible motive, the women talk to one another about Mrs. Wright. They end up finding a bird cage with a broken door, but they find no bird. Another possible movite uncovered by the women is the discovery of the dead bird. They found the bird, dead, somebody had strangled the bird. So, just because a murder happens early, does not make it a bad play.
X. J. Kennedy. Dana Gioia.
An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Trifles. 12 ed. New Jersey: Pearson. 2013. Pages1153-1163.
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