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A Critical Response to Trifles


Relationships ought to be scared, protection requires guarding, and justice needs to be properly served. “Trifles” written by Susan Glaspell looks into all of these three approaches. Using the conflict arising because of justice and law, Glaspell investigates the continued struggle in the social aspect of separation between women and men, the divide between justice and law. The words of Mr. Wright became too influential and caused his wife, Mrs. Wright to murder his husband. Trifles present a clear insight into the symbolic representation of women’s oppression.



“Trifles” written in 1916 by Susan Glaspell, comprises a one-act play that is focused on the house of Mr. and Mrs. Wright. The opening scene consists of five people, two women, and three men, making their way into Wright’s abandoned establishment. The place looks deserted, and all around signs of leftover work are evident. Unwashed dishes and a loaf of bread sit nicely on the counter, near the sink. This shows signs of someone being in a rush or getting taken unexpectedly.

“At the rear, the outer door opens, and the SHERIFF comes in followed by the COUNTY ATTORNEY and HALE. […] They are followed by the two women.”

(Glaspell, Trifles – 1)

One of the three men who entered was Mr. Wright’s neighbor, Mr. Hale, who accompanied the sheriff and county attorney. Mrs. Hale and the sheriff’s wife, Mrs. Peter accompany the men as they walk about the house. These people look around, trying to make sense of Mr. Wright’s murder and to find clues to piece together the events that led up to it.

Analysis of the Play

All things considered “Trifles” presents a proper representation of a unified plot since the play consists of a central character and the whole event occurs in one place. Throughout the play, verbal flashbacks represent and lead up to the events that happen on the day Mr. Wright is murdered. Mrs. Wright is presented as the main character in the play, who resorts to murdering her husband, Mr. Wright, to escape his verbal and physical abuse. The empty birdcage the women find is a metaphorical representation of women in our society.

“When I was a girl—my kitten—there was a boy took a hatchet, and before my eyes—and before I could get there—[Covers her face an instant] If they hadn’t held me back I would have—[Catches herself, looks upstairs where steps are heard, falters weakly]—hurt him.”

(Glaspell, Trifles)

The dead bird they hide represents the oppressive nature of women. One of the main reasons Mrs. Wright murdered her husband by strangling her is in response to the way he strangled and took the life of her bird. Strangely enough, the women who accompanied the men into the Wright’s abandoned house found pieces of evidence and tried to keep facts to themselves.

“We live close together, and we live far apart. We all go through the same things-it’s all just a different kind of the same thing.”

(Glaspell, Trifles)

They did not see it fit to share their findings with the men around them. In the same way, the oppressed women in society find a mutual connection with each other and protect each other.

Response to Societal View

All things considered, in the present era, there is no doubt that oppressive measures are being taken for women, in our society. The social structure is built around the principle of redeeming men as the dominant gender, the pillars of society, and being responsible for providing. However, women can also contribute and support if given the opportunity.

“COUNTY ATTORNEY: No, Peters, it’s all perfectly clear except a reason for doing it. But you know juries when it comes to women.”

(Glaspell, Trifles – 141)

The economic and judicial structure doesn’t allow women to excel as well as the social values. Oppression has caused women to lose their image and become bound in a birdcage scenario, similar to that found in Mrs. Wright’s cupboard. In fact, with modernity educating the present generation, it is imperative to teach them and educate people on eliminating oppression.


Ultimately, in the play “Trifles”, Glaspell encapsulates women’s oppression in our society by representing it in the form of displaying the scenario for Mrs. Wright who suffered at the hands of Mr. Wright and it ended with the murder of Mr. Wright. Oppression has long been present in societies, observed, and practices over the years, and has undergone many changes.



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