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Trifles: Symbolism and Canary Bird

By aiannotti Apr 14, 2013 756 Words
Writing Assignment 4
3/24/13

There are several themes in the play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell; the most important theme however is loneliness. Mini Wright was very lonely because her husband isolated her; her canary bird symbolized Mini herself, and lastly, the jar of cherries symbolized her new freedom away from isolation. The use of symbolism in this story was Mini Wrights “cry for help”. A reader of this play has to analyze all of the symbols in order to feel the real pain Mini Wright was living with from day to day, with her loneliness and isolation. Mini Wright lived in a farmhouse with her husband far away from town and all civilization. Minis own home represents her isolation from the rest of the world. It’s what she sees and lives with every day. It represents her loneliness, repetitive housework, married life, and all the things she resents in her life. Minis own husband, Mr. Wright, also symbolizes her loneliness and isolation. Mr. Wright is not a fun man to be around and he also frequently goes into town leaving Mini at the house to deal with her housework. When Mini suggested getting a party telephone so she can at least be in contact with the outside world, her husband quickly shoots her down. “I’m going to see if I can’t get John Wright to go in with me on a party telephone… he put me off, saying folks talked too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet— I guess you know about how much he talked himself”. This seemingly unimportant sentence symbolizes Minis isolation; it also shows that Mr. Wright did not think that it is important for his wife to be in contact with the outside world. Mini’s canary bird symbolized her loneliness and isolation. The birdcage is symbolic for Mini and her life. She was caged just like the bird. Mr. Wright caged her from the outside world and since they had no children all she had was he. The bird itself also was symbolic in the way that it sang. It reflected Minis’s old life from when she was young and sang in the choir. The death of the bird was also symbolic. “No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird-a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too” (Glaspell, 1032). This sentence shows that Mr. Wright crushed Minis spirit. She, just like the canary bird, used to sing however, once she married Mr. Wright she no longer was a “happy free spirited girl” she also never again sang. Mrs. Wright lost it completely when her bird was killed. This was Minis breaking point because the canary bird was her only source of love, life, and freedom. Her husband had killed all the joy around her and the last straw for her was when he snapped her bird’s neck. Lastly, at the end of the play Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter’s come across one jar of cherries that did not freeze, or shatter. This one jar symbolizes Mini’s loneliness, worrying, and isolation is finally over. It also symbolizes that through it all She wanted to make sure all of her hard work didn’t go to waste because the fruit was all she had going for her at that time, housework was her only job. Most importantly, this jar of cherries symbolizes Minis freedom from loneliness, freedom from isolation, and freedom from her husband. She survived on her own without help from others, just like the jar of cherries, through all the coldness and negativity in her life and all around her. She made it out alive and freed herself. In the play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell; it is only an assumption that Mini Wright killed her husband. Through all the symbolism portraying the way Mr. Wright treated his wife, and also portraying the lonely life Mrs. Wright was forced to live, it is safe to believe that any women would eventually snap, just as Mini did. Not only did Minis canary bird symbolize Minis loneliness, Mr. Wrights actions also symbolized the femonist stand point that the play was written in, Lastly, a simple single jar of cherries symbolizes Minis new freedom from loneliness and the beginning of her new life as an individual. Mini believed that she was now going to be able to live life for herself, and live the way she wanted to live. No longer did she have to live her life the way her husband wanted her to live it.

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