Essay on Trifles

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Trifles

Trifles, written in the early 1900’s by Susan Glaspell, is a one-act play illustrating how women can overreact to their own emotions, allowing these emotions to cloud their judgment. This is shown by describing the feelings of two women who are willing to defend a suspect, blame the victim, and go so far as to hide evidence, to protect another woman from being charged with murdering her husband. Mrs. Wright is the suspect in the murder of her husband, who was strangled in his sleep, found with the rope still around his neck. The sheriff and an attorney are examining Mrs. Wrights home for evidence. Mr. Henderson, the attorney, speaking of Mrs. Wright says, “Here’s a nice mess, ..Dirty towels! Not much of a housekeeper,
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Wright as if he were a cruel man, “he was a hard man, ..like a raw wind that gets to the bone.”(1171) After hearing this, Mrs. Peters compares how Mrs. Wright must have felt with a memory of her own past. “I know what stillness is. When we homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died – after he was two years old, and me with no other then – I know what stillness is.” (1173) There is a sense of pity for the suspect, anger toward the victim, as if he must have deserved to die.

While talking, the women find a fancy box belonging Mrs. Wright. Inside the box, is what they believe to be Mrs. Wright’s dead pet bird. They realize that “somebody – wrung – its – neck” (1172) Remembering a similar incident in her life, Mrs. Peters says, “When I was a girl – my kitten –there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes, ..If they hadn’t held me back I would have hurt him.” (1172) They place the dead bird back in the box, and then, surprisingly, they hide the box. You can almost see what’s going on in the mind of these two women as they must be imagining poor Mrs. Wright, horrified that her awful husband killed her bird, then she must have snapped and strangled him to end her own suffering.

The men come back in, not yet finding a motive, Mr. Henderson says, “it’s all perfectly clear except a reason for doing it, ..

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