Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

Topics: Susan Glaspell, Woman, Gender Pages: 4 (1469 words) Published: April 2, 2011
Susan Glaspell’s 1916 play titled “Trifles” uses many elements of drama such as, diction and spectacle through the actions of the two women as they rummage through a unusually messy kitchen to develop complexity and hold the attention of the audience until the very end. Glaspell uses irony and common misconceptions to convey her powerful message “Trifles” is also a play that reflects a clear notion of gender and sex roles. Glaspell, a feminist writer, writes plays that are known for their development of deep, sympathetic characters that have strong principles that are worth standing up for (Holstein 288). “Trifles” opens up in its setting, which is a rural area of Nebraska in a newly abandoned farmhouse kitchen belonging to the Wright family. The play is written from two different perspectives. The perspectives include a male’s, which include George Henderson, the county attorney, Henry Peter, the sheriff, and Lewis Hale, a neighboring farmer, and a female’s, which includes Mrs. Peter’s, the wife of Henry Peters and Mrs. Hale, the wife of Lewis Hale. The male characters enter the house as a crime scene. The county attorney carries out the investigation in an orderly way by interviewing the key witness and asking for the facts only. “The audience hears only male voices for the first quarter of the play as they go from room to room routinely until they left nothing out, ‘Nothing of importance’” (Holstein 283). The females of the play were very hesitant to enter the house. The beginning scene describes, “The women have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door” (Glaspell 958). The women enter the house as a home rather than a crime scene. They are there only to gather items for the imprisoned, Mrs. Wright. They are very nervous and timid, which can be determined by the diction that Glaspell uses. Many dashes are used as the women speak slowly and thoughtfully in the home where a man was just murdered. Seeing the bread outside the breadbox, the broken...

Cited: Glaspell, Susan. "Trifles." A Portable Anthology. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins,
2009. 958-69.
Holstein, Suzy Clarkson. “Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell’s ‘Trifles.’”
Midwest Quarterly. A Journal of Contemporary Thought (MQ). 2003 Spring; 44
(3): 282-90.
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