English 106/ Drama Essay
15 May 2006
Trifles, Susan Glaspell’s play written in 1916, reveal concerns of women living in a male dominated society. Glaspell communicates the role that women were expected to play in late 19th century society and the harm that can come of it to women, as well as men. The feminist agenda of Trifles was made obvious, in order to portray the lives of all women who live oppressed under male domination. John and Minnie Wright are two main characters who are never seen; however provide the incident for the play. In this play women are against men, Minnie against her husband, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters against their husband’s, as well as men in general. The men are arrogant and insensitive, while the women are sympathetic, as well as understanding and forgive Minnie for the murder of her husband. Trifles clearly addresses gender issues, emphasizing the oppression of women who lose their identity after marriage. This is depicted in the interactions between Mrs. Hale, the male characters, and Mrs. Peters.
The play takes place in Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s abandon farm house, which is located down a hollow out of view from the road (1006). The setting is lonely and cold, which signifies Minnie Wright’s feelings (lonely) and describes John Wright’s character (cold). Mrs. Hale, the Wright’s neighbor states, “I’ve never liked this place. Maybe because it’s down in a hollow and you don’t see the road” (1006). This leads the reader to believe that Minnie was lonely and isolated. Mrs. Hale also states, “….he was a hard man, just to pass the time of day with him (shivers). Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.” This statement was describing a character trait of Mr. Wright; he was thought of as cold. Again Mrs. Hale makes another statement in regards to Mrs. Wright’s surroundings saying, “It never seemed a very cheerful place” (1003). All of these statements speak of how unpleasant Minnie’s surroundings were and signify oppression.
Mrs. Hale goes on throughout the play remembering Mrs. Wright as Minnie Foster, who she was before her marriage to John Wright. For example she states “I heard she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir.” (1004). Glaspell uses past tense when describing Minnie’s character prior to marriage. Glaspell also compares Minnie to a bird, something that is carefree. This is stated by Mrs. Hale, “….she was kind of like a bird herself – real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and –fluttery. How she did change.” (1006). This statement signifies Minnie’s character prior to her marriage and states that she did change after marriage. The description of Minnie’s character prior to her marriage is positive; the change after marriage has a negative connotation. Again Glaspell uses past tense when describing Minnie in a positive light. Toward the end of the play Mrs. Hale is still remembering how happy Mrs. Wright was as Minnie Foster, prior to marriage. She states to Mrs. Peters, “I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang.” (1008). Glaspell uses vivid description such as the white dress and blue ribbons to paint a picture of how happy Mrs. Wright was before marriage. The color white signifies purity and brightness, it is a happy color. Both colors white and blue are used in our countries flag, which symbolizes freedom. The change in Minnie did not occur until she was married. She was no longer seen as bright and happy. Her happiness changed to loneliness. She lived in isolation on a farm down in a hollow out of site.
It is obvious that Mrs. Hale was sensitive to Mrs. Wright’s character. Mrs. Hale knew Mrs. Wright as Minnie Foster. Knowing Minnie before marriage made her transformation from Minnie Foster to Mrs. Wright very noticeable to Mrs. Hale....