Paper Sample on 1916 Play Trifles by Susan Glaspell: A Murder Mystery Tale

Paper Type:  Critical thinking
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1225 Words
Date:  2023-09-17


“Trifles” is play that done by Susan Glaspell, and it was initially performed by the Provincetown Players in 1916. It is based on John Hossack’s murder when Glaspell was working as a journalist, and at the time, Hossack's wife, Margaret, reports to the authorities that people broke into their facilities and killed the husband with an axe. Margaret was arrested several days after the husband’s funeral. Glaspell's reporting showed that Margaret was a cold-blooded woman that could kill her husband with an axe. However, when Glaspell visited the Hossack’s family, her perception towards Margaret shifted, and she was now portrayed as a sympathetic woman that had great love and care for her family.

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Literary elements are critical in the development of a play, for they lay the foundation upon which the plot is supported. They convey crucial information to readers and observers; they emphasize points and ensure that ideas are clearer as they are delivered to the intended parties. In this analysis of the Trifles play, the focus will be on how that conflict, imagery, and setting supports the development of the primary theme.


The conflict appears in various ways in this play with the abrogation of basic rights on matters regarding the safety and liberty of the female characters being raised. There is a tendency to nullify the women’s rights of expression and safety, as this can be shown through John Wright, who tends to mistreat his wife for many years. The other two female characters are also subjected to various forms of mistreatment when they raise their opinions or make conclusive statements on a given matter.

A significant number of men in this play regard the women’s opinion as mere trifles, and this is an illustration of the gender conflict. Men undermine the activities taken by women, and they claim that "Well, women are used to worrying over trifles." There is an element of inequality as the women are not allowed to have any saying on the issue surrounding their lives. They are not expected to have any contribution to the various matters affecting them, and they are only allowed to undertake the activities highlighted by men. When the county attorney, lawyer, and sheriff are taking observations in the crime scene, they fail to incorporate the statements highlighted by a woman regarding the killings of John Hossack.

The “Trifles” was done in 1916 when the women’s role was not given much consideration, and the females were regarded as inferior to their male counterparts. There is a total disregard for women’s comments and remarks by men throughout the play. They do not respect the duties taken by women, and they view them as irrelevant. Mr. Henderson kicks pans when he fails to find a clean towel and claims that Mrs. Wright is poor in housekeeping.

In seeking for the truth on the murder of John, things are made difficult when the women join forces as they seek to undermine the power held by men, they hide evidence and make it challenging to show that Mrs. Wright was behind the murder. Therefore, gender conflict is a major issue in this play, and the author has shown the various misunderstanding between men and women to depict the way that the females in this society are not allowed to participate in the activities that are being taken by men. Their contributions are regarded as inconsequential.


The imagery that is depicted in this play is that of a farmhouse that is abandoned with fading wallpaper and gloomy kitchen. Most of the imagery in this play is centered on Wright’s home, which is the epicenter for the crime in this story. The primary images in the play become the main element that helps the women in uncovering the murder as their husbands are unable to find a solution for they are relying on the traditional investigatory mechanism. The play shows the differences in the perceptions held by men and women in life.

The women manage to notice details that are regarded as “trifles” by men, and they become sympathetic and suspicious. The concept of quilt-knotted instead of the knit is an indication of a symbolic parallel that can be highlighted by Mrs. Wright’s mindset when she manages to twist out of frustration. Mrs. Wright’s kitchen is viewed as being “drab” and being in a messy state, and this is a representation of an abandonment of domestic activities. It shows a monotonous state of activities that Mrs. Wright is following in her daily endeavors. The author’s attitudes towards the main character are depicted through the names that she is given. She is named as “Wright” to create the imagery that her actions were always following the “right” mechanism. It is curious to note that even her first name is utilized in conjunction with the freedom that she always admired to have before she got married.


The setting of the play is in the early 1900s though the year is not exactly stated, despite the fact that it was first performed in 1916. Despite the inability to know when it was written, it is clear that it was introduced in the United States at a time when women’s rights were not observed by men. The entirety of the action happens in a rural area of Iowa house as it seeks to uncover the murder committed by a woman on her husband. The scenes are in the house kitchen, which is in disarray state with dishes and cans dirtying the area.

The setting seeks to give an account of the murder without revealing a lot of details about Mrs. Wright. It shows that she was a lonely farmer’s wife, and this was made worse by the fact that there were no close neighbors (Glaspell, 1916). The setting shows the relationship that exists among Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Wright as the two ladies wish that they visited Wright more when she was at home. Mrs. Hale helps her when she is jail but taking things to her, and the two women seek to protect her when they find a dead bird. Telling the Sherriff about it would have made Mrs. Wright look suspicious, and this setting helps to tie Mrs. Wright’s story and everything that is surrounding her.


After a critical analysis of the play “Trifles,” it is possible to note that sometimes doing the wrong thing is the right thing to do. In this case, women’s perspective is regarded as wrong and unacceptable by the men in the play. Therefore, when undertaking the investigation, men seem to look for the usual things in a case, such as guns, evidence, and windows. Women are looking at sewing and fruits, which is in their perspective for they understand the murder better, considering that it was done by a woman. It is disheartening to learn that men were viewing the women’s worries as "trifles" when it turns out that the women’s materials are the rear evidence to the murder committed.


Glaspell, S. (1916). Trifles: a play in one act. Boston: Walter H. Baker.

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Paper Sample on 1916 Play Trifles by Susan Glaspell: A Murder Mystery Tale. (2023, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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