Film Adaptation Analysis of Trifles
Susan Glaspell’s Trifles is a play about a murder mystery that is loosely based on an actual murder case that the author covered while working as a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News (Ben-Zvi 143). Since the play is written in 1916, a time when the boundaries between the private and public spheres are beginning to break down, it strongly reflects on the culture-bound notions of sex roles and gender. Back then, women are thought to be concerned about insignificant issues that hold little to no importance to the true work of society, also known as trifles, just as the title of the play suggests. In 2008, Ghost Ranch Productions, with director Pamela Walker, who plays Mrs. Wright herself, produces Trifles, a film adaptation of Glaspell’s famous play. Through the creative use of literary elements and some small alterations to the plot, dialogue, and setting, Walker effectively demonstrates the play’s major theme of gender differences in the film. Exposition is the first difference between the beginning plot in Glaspell’s play and the film adaptation. Exposition or introduction “brings out everything the audience needs to know to understand and follow what is to happen in the play” (Roberts and Zweig 890). In the first part of the play, the plot begins when the sheriff, his wife, the county attorney, and a man named Mr. Hale and his wife all enter the Wright’s disheveled kitchen where they assemble and plan for the investigation of Mr. Wright’s murder. The play’s exposition shows its audience that the entire play is about finding the evidence needed to solve the crime. At the beginning of the film, on the other hand, a scene showing Mrs. Wright’s strange and depressed demeanor, particularly in a scene where Mr. Wright’s voice is heard harshly yelling at his wife in the background, points its audience toward the intriguing thought that she may be a victim of domestic violence. The creative exposition of the film reaches...
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