ENG Comp 2 12:00
6 February 2015
Parallelism Between Minnie Wright and Her Bird
One of the most powerful and widely accepted elements of literature is symbolism. Symbolism can be found in practically all works of literature, even if the author did not intend for the work to represent an outside circumstance. Often times, details meant to be nothing more than a surface level story are analyzed by the audience, and are misunderstood as having a deeper, underlying significance. There are, however, droves of compositions that contain symbolism which cannot be ignored or misunderstood. In the play Trifles, written by Susan Glaspell, the very title of the work suggest that it will be brimming with symbolism (Alkalay-Gut). The term “trifles” refers to the minute aspects of life that are often times considered to be unimportant. In Glaspell’s Trifles, even the most minuscule detail can symbolize an aspect of substantial importance in the story (Alkalay-Gut). Symbolism is widely recognized in Trifles, but perhaps the most prominent example being the shocking parallelism between Minnie Wright and her pet bird.
Minnie Wright came from cheerful beginnings, she was not always the cold, indifferent woman portrayed in Trifles. In the past, she had been a positive, contributing member of the community. Mrs. Hale makes the remark that “She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir” (Glaspell 672). Two notable observations can be made from Mrs. Hale’s statement. Due to Mrs. Hale’s use of Minnie’s maiden name, we can assume she was considerably more happy before she married John Wright. The quote also contains the first of many prominent comparisons between Minnie and her bird, namely that Minnie was most cheerful when she was “one of the town girls singing in the choir” (Glaspell 672). Minnie thoroughly enjoyed singing, and the text leads the reader to believe that her bird’s love of singing may have led to its own demise, as well as that of John Wright (Russell). The common bond created by their fondness of singing, could have been one reason Minnie became so attached to her bird, while she simultaneously grew distant from her husband.
Another eminent theme in Trifles is isolation, yet another commonality shared between Minnie and her bird. Minnie had presumably lived in town prior to her marriage to John Wright, where she was known as a gleeful young woman, and quite the socialite. When she was surrounded by the people of town, she was able to socialize, however after getting married Minnie and John moved out into a more rural area. Much like Minnie, her bird was kept in a lonely isolated cage, away from its peers. While the bird was literally caged, Minnie most likely felt as if she too was locked away in a cage, with only her husband and bird to rely upon (Al-Khalili). John Wright was plainly not an adequate social outlet for his wife. He was notoriously antisocial leading Mr. Hale to say: “I guess you know about how much he talked yourself… I don’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John” (Glaspell 660). Both Minnie and her bird were isolated from the rest of society, causing them to rely upon each other for companionship, so when John killed the bird Minnie viewed it as the murder of her only faithful confidante and retaliated irrationally.
John Wright’s murdering of his wife bird clearly devastated her, sending her spiraling downwards into a numb daze that proved to be detrimental to John. He squeezed the life out of Minnie’s bird and only friend, and in the aftermath she decided to display some symbolism of her own. In Minnie’s disturbed state she conspires to choke the life out of John in much the same way he did her bird. After killing her husband, Minnie seems to be stuck in a nonchalant, unconcerned state when she is found by Mr. Hale. When Mr. Hale asked why he could not...
Cited: Alkalay-Gut, Karen. “Jury of Her Peers: The Importance of Trifles.” Studies in Short Fiction 21.1(1984): 1. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Feb 2013.
Al-Khalili, Raja. "Representations of Rural Women in Susan Glaspell 's Trifles." Studies in Literature and Language 6.1 (2013): 132-5. ProQuest. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Glaspell, Susan. "Trifles." Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. By X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2006. 667-79. Print.
Holstein, Suzy Clarkson. "Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell 's 'Trifles '." Midwest Quarterly 44.3 (2003): 282. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.
Russell, Judith Kay. "Glaspell 's Trifles." The Explicator 55.2 (1997): 88-90. ProQuest. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
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