Throughout literary history, symbolism has been a large part of storytelling. Some use it to describe the situation while others use it to get the reader to relate to the authors thoughts, feelings and mindset. This is very apparent in Trifles by Susan Glaspell, where symbolism is vital to telling her story. Without thought one can deduce that the canary is a primary focus of the symbolism in the story however the empty cage is equally if not more important to the thought process of Mrs. Wright Lets not forget the condition of her kitchen and Mrs. Wrights concern of her preserves.
During the turn of the 19th century, the role and importance of women was quite different then is today. Susan Glaspell makes the reader aware of the era in which she is writing in by her use of symbolism in Trifles. The thoughts of murder and deceit by Mrs. Wright as well as by Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale consume the reader and pull them into not only the thought process of both men and women during the turn of the 19th century but also the roles each possessed during the time.
During the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s, the role of a wife was that of the caretaker of the house and family. There is apparent disregard for the look and feel of the how the kitchen is cared for. Without modern advances of gas or electric heat, the only way to keep the house warm was fire. When the attorney was looking in the kitchen for clues, he discovered “a nice mess.”(825) Mrs. Peters and Hale are aware of how much Mrs. Wright cared for her fruit and while in jail, her preserves where her primary focus, not freedom. (825) The fruit itself was another well placed piece of symbolism as only one jar of cherries survived the harsh cold weather without the aid of a fire to prevent the jars from shattering. As Mrs. Hale walked through the kitchen, she noticed how Mrs. Wright was not in touch with herself as the loaf of bread was just laying on the counter
Cited: Schakel, Peter, Jack Ridl. Approaching Literature. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2005.