The broken birdcage can also be seen as a symbolic item within the story. The birdcage represents how women were oppressed, or “caged in” by men during this time in history. The bird, which symbolizes Mrs. Wright in the story, is not mentioned by the men when they notice the birdcage. This is because Glaspell wanted to emphasize that most men during this time were focused on what women were limited to doing, not who they were as a person. As the men overlook yet another important detail, the women realize that the door to the birdcage is broken. This symbolizes Mrs. Wright breaking away from the chains of oppression put on her by her husband.
Hale and Mrs. Peters find a dead canary and a broken bird cage, it becomes obvious that Mr. Wright was an aggressive and controlling husband. Mrs. Hale states, “No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird- a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too” (1012). The canary represents Minnie Foster. Before she married Mr. Wright, she was a joyful girl who sang in the church choir. After her and Mr. Wright get married, she is forced to stop singing and is stripped of her happiness. The broken cage represents Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s controlling marriage. The bird cage is violently broken to represent how Mrs. Wright violently escaped her marriage. The women’s discoveries cause Mrs. Peters to sympathize with Mrs. Wright. Ultimately, Mrs. Peters decides to stand up for what she believes.
Other significant symbols in the story are the bird and the birdcage. Mrs. Hale describes Minnie, before her marriage, as "kind of like a bird herself-real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery"(glaspell 165). The bird is caged just as Minnie is trapped in the abusive relationship with John. John figuratively strangles the life out of Minnie like he literally strangles the bird. When he kills the bird, he kills the last bit of Minnie and her spirit. Mrs.Hale and Mrs. Peters find Minnie's bird cage in the cupboard, but they don't realize the importance of it until they find the dead bird with its neck twisted to one side. The birdcage symbolizes Minnie's life. The bird and the birdcage is a private symbol which is also representative of the role women are forced into in society, the bird being women and the cage being men. Minnie then strangles the life out of John like he strangled the life out of her bird.
A trifle is something that has little value or importance, and there are many seeming "trifles" in Susan Glaspell's one-act play "Trifles." The irony is that these "trifles" carry more weight and significance than first seems to be the case. Just as Glaspell's play ultimately reveals a sympathetic nature in Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, the evidence that the men investigators fail to observe, because they are blind to the things that have importance to a woman, reveals the identity of the murderer and are, therefore, not really "trifles," after all. Thus, the title of the play has a double-meaning: it refers, satirically, to the way "trifling" way some men perceive women, and it also acts as an ironic gesture to the fact that women are not as "trifling" as these men make them out to be. This paper will analyze setting, characters, plot, stage directions, symbolism, themes and genre to show how Glaspell's "Trifles" is an ironic indictment not of a murderess but rather of the men who push women to such acts.
Symbols are important, especially in literature. They have been known to inspire hope and life, in turn inspiring some of the most profound actions in the history of the world. Yet, humanity’s statement to symbols goes beyond us finding meaning in innominate or non-human objects. People assign humanity into objects, almost a part of themselves. This concept is clearly demonstrated in Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles. The work contains many element of symbolism that make important and relieving comments on the characters of the play and the themes of the story.
The plays, Trifles and A Dollhouse use the literary tool of symbolism to portray the way women were treated throughout the nineteenth century. Susan Glaspell uses the bird cage and the dead bird to signify the role and life of women in marriage and society, whereas Henrik Ibsen uses the dollhouse. These symbols allow the reader to recognize the plays main similarities in the treatment of women, such as men dismissing women as trivial and treating them like property; however, the plays portray the women’s lifestyles as different which seal their fates.
In “Trifles”, Glaspell shows the oppression of women back in 1916 when the play was written. In the play, Glaspell shows the roles of both men and women. To show how men treated women, what was expected of the women, and how women overcame the patriarchal society that they were placed in. Also, “Trifles” having an effect on the society it was based on and how the roles of women have evolved over time.
There is a single symbol that encapsulates the majority of these notions throughout the entirety of the book: the bird, the bird in the house, the bird "caught between the two layers of glass" that so changes Vanessa's life. Birds make too frequent and deliberate an appearance throughout the collection of short stories to be mere haphazard additions to the background; instead, they, along with the images and concepts associated with them, serve to alert the aware reader to what Margaret Laurence, through older-Vanessa, through child-Vanessa, is trying to tell us. The birds, and their associated images, are central and representative of the novel as a whole.
In the play titled Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, Minnie Foster Wright is being accused of murdering her husband, John. In this production, Mrs. Wright is consistently referenced, and although she is not witnessed, she is very recognizable. There are important symbols in this play that signifies Mrs. Wright and her existence as it once was and as it currently exists to be. Particularly the canary, this symbolizes Mrs. Wright's long forgotten past. Additionally, the birdcage, this symbolizes her life as it currently exists. Certainly the quilt is a symbol, which is an important clue on how Mr. Wright was killed. In addition, the rocking chair, this symbolizes her life as it has diminished throughout
The canary is a representation of Minnie, a beautiful, sweet soul, but timid and “fluttery.” The women find the canary strangled to death. It symbolizes Minnie’s loneliness in the house. Mr. Wright would keep Minnie trapped in the kitchen similar to the bird being trapped in its cage. Mr. Wright killed the bird, “a bird that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too.” Both the bird’s song and Minnie’s happiness have been eliminated. The second symbol, the quilt, is said to be symbolic of Minnie’s husband. Minnie’s squares on the quilt were at first very neat, paying great detail to the stitching, but her more recent squares were angry and sloppy, hinting to some inner struggle. Minnie knotted the stitches on the squares, which coincide to the knot she made around her husbands neck, proving Minnie’s
In “Trifles”, a division between the two sexes is quickly established as the men enter the house and huddle by the stove while the women remain still by the door. As the men start their detective work the women wander around the house to gather some of Mrs. Wright’s belongings. While searching for her belongings, the women discover an empty birdcage and find a dead bird in a “pretty box” (Glaspell, 956) inside of Mrs. Wright's sewing basket. Mrs. Hale jumps at the sight of the bird’s neck and Mrs. Peters points out how “somebody-wrung-its-neck” (Glaspell, 957) similar to the way Mr. Wright was found earlier. Mrs. Wright's murder of her husband can be seen as an act of feminine revolt against the male-dominated society. Another example of women defying against patriarchy is of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters hiding the evidence that can prove Mrs. Wright to be guilty of her husband’s murder. Before their departure from the Wright’s house, as the men are returning, the sheriff suggests that the county attorney take a look through the items Mrs. Peters had collected for Mrs. Wright. However, he decides that anything collected by the women cannot have much significance and overlooks it. His assumption that the women would have came forward if they saw any possible evidence costs him. The sheriff’s belief is that women derive their identity solely from their relationships with men; the dominant gender.
The title of the play “Trifles” is a major symbol of how men viewed women in the early nineteen hundreds, something small, and of little value or importance. One of the examples of trifles within the play is the bird in the cage which symbolized Mrs. Wright and the life not only she had to live, but other women faced during this time as well. Women, as well as Mrs. Wright, felt caged in her own homes, and some were not able to associate with their friends. Women had no right to vote, or have a say so as to anything except what went on inside the home as far as cleaning, cooking, sewing, and tending to their children.
“Trifles” a play by Susan Glaspell, emphasizes the thought that women were kept in their homes and their contributions to the home and family went unappreciated and unnoticed. The play gives readers a view of how women were view and treated during the 1900’s. As a female analyzing the play, Mrs. Wright’s motive for killing Mr. Wright was quite clear. Susan Glaspell gives her readers a feminist approach, to demonstrate how Mrs. Wright’s murdering of her husband is justified.
While searching a cupboard for some sewing supplies to fix a poorly sewn quilt, Mrs. Hale finds a birdcage tucked away inside of it. The birdcage that Mrs. Hale finds is the most symbolic object that reveals the motive for the crime. A birdcage can be symbol of confinement or imprisonment. Mrs. Hale says, “No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird—a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too” (781). Mrs. Hale compares Mrs. Wright to a bird in the sense that birds sing but Mr. Wright does not want her
Have you ever wondered what people say about you behind your back or what they think of you what you're not there? This book strongly shows what other people think of Minnie Wright and their true opinions come through. Trifles is a play written by Susan Glaspell. It is a murder mystery about who killed John Wright. Towards the end of the story, we come to the conclusion that the murderer was Minnie Wright, John wrights wife. Minnie Wright took her own husband's life because he had killed the one thing that she had loved most, her bird. She thought as if she needed revenge on him for doing what he did, this being said she killed him in the same way that he had killed her beloved bird; a rope around the neck. Susan Glaspell decides to tell this story mainly through the eyes and minds of Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale. While the main plot of the story is about Minnie Wright and her actions, she never appears in the story because well, she doesn't have to. Susan Glaspell chiefly relies upon the characters in the story to give the readers and audience a sense of what type of person Minnie Wright is. Readers can sense her presence through the way she and her house are described. The characters say things like, “here is a nice mess (referring to her house)” (118.) or “she looked queer” (116.) These small statements can help us form an image of what Minnie Wright is like when she is not even present. Minnie Wright’s absence also allows the women to sympathize with her and therefore makes the women feel obligated to keep her secret.