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Trifles Case

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"Trifles" is a one act play written by Susan Glaspell in 1916 after being affected by the true brutal murder of John Hossack in 1900. She was the journalist on the scene and throughout the trial of Margaret Hossack , the wife accused of committing the crime, and the image of the kitchen was the setting for this play. In this era women were expected to keep home, be obedient to their husbands and basically had no rights. "Trifles" shows the difference in how men and women see right and wrong with this crime but it also shows how the two women realize the motive is right in front of them and the choice they make to keep it from the men as they are looking around the farmhouse and land for evidence and motive. This paper is going to describe the plot and characters of the play, the symbolism of items and the main message of the play, and the final thoughts of the impact this play had on women's rights and equality in the future regarding domestic violence.

The plot of the play is about a woman who has been accused of killing her husband while he slept and the D.A., sheriff, and the neighboring farmer who reported the death go the scene of the crime to find evidence of motive for the murder. The neighbor's and sheriff's wives are also there but do not search with the men but instead stay in the kitchen to discuss things and find items to bring to Minnie at the jailhouse to keep her occupied while awaiting her trial. They (the wives) do find something in the sewing basket that could point to motive and then have the decision to make if they are going to tell their husbands and the D.A. because they are sympathetic to Minnie after realizing what kind of marriage she was in. The opening and only scene in this play starts with the kitchen and how it was messy and cold. Based on how cold the characters were and how Mr. Henderson just returned from Omaha I determined that it was in the Midwest in the middle of the winter. I also have determined that the era was in the early 20th century based on the true crime facts of the case, but also because of how women were very submissive and there was no heater because the Sheriff went straight to the stove to light a fire so the home would warm up some while they investigated the crime scene. There are 5 main active characters in this play but it is based on 2 characters that are never shown but we know of them through the dialogue from the ladies. The following will give their names and how I perceived them by Glaspell's writing and the visual from watching this play online.

Active Characters

George Henderson (County D.A.): A young man who seems to only want justice. He did not seem to be compassionate on how much women work to keep a home clean, he seemed to have a sense of that it is their duty to clean even if the husband comes in to mess it up again. He is the antagonist of this play because he is trying to find evidence to file charges on Minnie.

Lewis Hale (reporting citizen): A tall middle aged man with some extra weight on him and seemed to still be shocked by the crime. He definitely is a talker because the D.A. and Sheriff had to remind him to stay on track with his account of the day before.

Henry Peters (County Sheriff): A short heavy set middle aged man who also disregarded the way a woman works hard as a farmer's wife. He also seemed to have no other suspect in mind but Minnie Wright and wanted to find a motive.

Mrs. Hale: A healthy sized farmer's wife that seemed to be saddened by the crime and felt responsible for not coming by the Wright's home in the past. She felt that if she had visited more and was Minnie's friend then the murder may not have happened. Mrs. Hale is the protagonist of this play because she makes sure that the men do not find the bird or the knots in the quilt patch because it can be used as motive for the murder.

Mrs. Peters: A skinny middle aged woman who is married to the sheriff. She was on the side of the law until the bird was found and then began to change her view of the crime. At the end of the play she also becomes the protagonist with Mrs. Hale and helps to conceal the dead canary.

Inactive Characters:

John Wright: Through the dialogue between the women, John was a good man who didn't drink or party with others but he was a hard man. He liked quiet and privacy but also seemed to 'cage' Minnie in the house based on how Mrs. Hale described how much she changed after marrying him.

Minnie (Foster) Wright: Before marrying John she was a happy person who sang beautifully in the church choir, always dressed in pretty clothes and ribbons in her hair. After marrying him there was a significant change in her appearance, was not part of any girls clubs, and was childless. She seemed to have been isolated by John and caged like a bird in the lonely, cold farmhouse.

As described before, the plot of this play is about finding evidence of a motive for murder and when the women find what may be Minnie's reason for putting a noose around her husband's neck while he slept they must decide if they should tell the men what they



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