Trifles: Sheriff and Mrs. Wright

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SETTING AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE: Trifles takes place in an agricultural area in the American Midwest. The name of the county the play is set in is Dickson County. The time that Trifles is set in is the late 1800’s. The setting heavily influences the characters in the play. Their diction is typical of that area and time period. It is possible to judge that the characters do not have extensive educations based on the area they were brought up in. This is because in agricultural areas children have traditionally stayed with their parents after receiving a basic education to help with farm work. Families in this time period also had many children in order to lessen the burden of the great amount of labor associated with maintaining a farm without modern equipment to speed the process. The setting also adds to the isolation that is explored in Trifles. The Wrights live in a small farmhouse that is in a hollow. The house is not visible from the road, creating a sense of extreme isolation. Because of the time period, the characters do not have any means of communication with those outside of their

community, except in mail. The time period that Trifles is set in is also

a more traditional one in terms of the societal roles that women play. The actions taken by Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are extremely uncommon for women in their time period.
1. Mrs. Wright: Mrs. Wright plays does not appear in the actual dialogue in the play at all, but her actions and the resulting situations are the main focus of the work. Mrs. Wright is consumed by the emotional coldness and isolation of Mr. Wright. When she was younger, her name was Minnie Foster (which emphasizes her previous

innocence), and she sang and wore pretty clothes. Now that she is married to Mrs. Wright, she does not communicate with others, and does not participate in the Ladie’s Aid because of the shame that she has of her shabby clothes. This great contrast between her past and present selves enhance the tragedy associated with the results of her life’s choices. It is discovered by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters that Mrs. Wright took her final revenge on Mr. Wright by strangling him as he slept, just as he strangled her bird.

Mr. Wright: This character was a good man, he kept his word and paid his debts, but he was very cold emotionally. He has no interest in communcation with the outside world and wants only peace and quiet. It is assumed that after he strangled Mrs. Wright’s canary that he is strangled by Mrs. Wright.

Goerge Henderson: This character is the county attorney. He is younger

than the other men in the play and has more modern ideas as a result. He is somewhat consumed with a vain gallantry in his words, and as a result spends more time focusing on his own ego than he does discovering evidence leading to the truth of Mr. Wright’s fate. Mr Hale: This character is a simple man that lives and works on a farm. He tries to convince Mr. Wright to contribute to a party telephone line bu presenting the idea a second time in front of Mrs. Wright. This indicates a sort of backward, manipulative quality of his character, but it is assumed that it is more a result of his reaction to Mr. Wright than an indication of Mr. Hale’s character.

Mr. Peters: This character is the county sherriff. He is also somewhat simple and has a position of respect in the county. He has more traditional ideas than the county attorney. Although he is not consumed with his vain self conceptions like the attorney, he still makes no observations leading to the truth in Mr. Wright’s death. Mrs. Hale: Mrs. Hale knew Minnie Foster growing up and blames herself somewhat for Mrs. Wright’s fate. She is an example of the feminist ideas presented in the play. She feels like she is to blame for Mrs. Wright’s isolation and fate. She serves to represent that women from many different situations have many of the same experiences and should support eachother emotionally. With the help of Mrs. Peters,...
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