Type: Review
Pages: 4 | Words: 1129
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

“Trifles”, the play by Susan Glaspell is a murder mystery, which does not try to hide the murderer but attempts to conceal the motive of the murder. It creates a sympathetic situation for the lady, Mrs. Wright, who has murdered her own husband, rather than create any hatred against her.

The persons who discover the motive of the murder are also ladies being not actively involved in the solution of the murder case. But the gentlemen who are actually supposed to find out the motive and solve the case are not able to succeed in reaching the depth of the matter, as they lack the sympathetic view which has led the ladies to see seemingly minute unimportant things and reach the root of the incident. This is a case of perspective difference and gender difference while finding a solution to a given problem.

Mrs. Wright

The story depicts the “queer” (Glaspell 1) behavior of Mrs. Wright, who is charged with the murder of her own husband by strangling him with a rope around his neck. She was found “rockin’ back and forth” (Glaspell 1) on a rocker and holding an apron in her hands and “kind of – pleating it” (Glaspell 1) when Mr. Hale came in to meet Mr. John Wright, Mrs. Wright’s husband. Surprisingly, Mrs. Wright declared that her husband was lying upstairs but would not see anyone because he was dead.

On being asked how he died, Mrs. Wright said “He died of a rope around his neck” (Glaspell 1). She was peculiarly calm while saying this and did not show any excitement even when she learned that the police were being called. She was charged with the murder of John Wright as there were no possibilities of an outsider doing the crime.

From the story itself we come to know that both, Mr. and Mrs. Wright never had a healthy relationship. Mr. Wright’s company for his wife was like that of “a raw wind that gets to the bone” (Glaspell 1). Actually, for Mrs. Wright, the canary bird meant a lot as she had no children or any one else. Henceforth, if it is considered that she killed the bird or even her husband, then it is too difficult to accept.

From the story, we know that she is very cold, and there is not very much activity to do for her. Being murdered by such a kind of woman is beyond any thought. However, the existence of the canary is itself a mystery, as no one can guarantee that anyone has actually seen the bird at all. Thus, the canary appears to be a metaphor for the inner-self of Mrs. Wright.

The empty cage can well signify the nature of aloofness that occupied the mind of Mrs. Wright in the absence of any children. Mrs. Hale stated, “Not having children makes less work – but it makes a quiet house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in” (Glaspell 1).

Thus, she was alone, and in her deep melancholy, she used to find herself extremely alone in the world with no one to care for her or her to care for. The relation with her husband was cold. Therefore, the only person who could provide her with solace in this condition was absent from her emotional self. This made her aligned with the canary cage that could have a dweller but never had one.

Mrs. Peters, in spite of being the wife of the sheriff and according to Mr. Henderson “married to the law” (Glaspell 1), was forced to think that some deep emotion was working at Mrs. Wright’s back of the mind when she tried to analyze the unusual behavior of Mrs. Wright. Not to talk of Mrs. Hale, who had seen the woman very closely since long and had huge sympathy for everything she did. Mrs. Hale describes Mr. John Wright as a good man but along with it “close” and “hard” (Glaspell 1).

According to her, it was tough for Mrs. Wright to spend so many years with him. Both women looked around the room with a sort of affection rather than any adverse feeling for a woman who had apparently killed her husband. Mrs. Hale remembered the days when Mrs. Wright used to be “Minnie Foster” (Glaspell 1), a young lady who used to “wear pretty clothes and be lively” (Glaspell 1), and was one of the “town girls singing in the choir” (Glaspell 1).

She was of opinion that living with a husband like John Wright and not having any children had completely changed Minnie Foster into a woman who “kept so much to herself” (Glaspell 1). She felt guilty for not visiting the Wrights for such a long time and not keeping track of what was going on in her neighborhood. As they went on discussing and reminiscing the present and past of Mrs. Wright’s life, they sort of generating more and more sympathy for her from the feminine perspective of the audience.

Symbolism in Trifles

Now, the theme became clear to the audience. The silent life of the childless lady was filled up by the bird after so many years of “nothing” (Glaspell 1), and that too was apparently killed by John Wright bringing in a huge stillness again in her life. Mrs. Peters herself was aware of how killing “stillness” (Glaspell 1) could be as she had experienced it when her “first baby died – after he was two years old” (Glaspell 1).

The ladies understood why John Wright was unable to wake up while the rope was slipped around his neck. It was a “crafty” (Glaspell 1) act of killing. They knew if the county attorney found out that bird, Mrs. Wright would be in deep trouble. Therefore, they deliberately moved the box from its place, and Mrs. Hale kept it in the pocket of her large coat.

The men audiences, apparently, was unable to see these trifles which could help them solve the case. But the women, because they could unite themselves with Mrs. Wright in feelings, could reach to the depth of the case. They were sure that the lady, who worried so much for her preserves and wanted to have her shawl and apron even in the jail, could not forgive her husband for killing her canary and killed him quietly.

The trifles were of so much importance to her, as there were no other interests left in her vacant life. Trifles, as they might appear to some, might not be “trifles” for another person. They might lead to very intense emotional setbacks in a mind of a person, who considers them to be her or his life. If anybody tampers with them, it might lead to some extreme action like murder, as in the case depicted in the play “Trifles”.

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