The Setting in Trifles by Susan Glaspell Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  644 Words
Date:  2022-07-25

The play Trifles by Susan Glaspell tells the story of an investigation into the murder of a farm owner called John Wright. Sherriff Henry Peters, who is leading the investigation, suspects Wrights' wife Minnie as the culprit. The author suggests that Minnie murdered her husband as retaliation for strangling her canary. The wives of the Wrights' neighbors help cover it up in a way that there is no evidence to prove Minnie killed John. This essay looks at the play's setting and how it contributes to the overall theme.

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Trifles is set at a farmhouse in rural Iowa during the winter of 1916. The plot's development mostly occurs in the kitchen. This setting is important to the development of the central theme, which is the oppression of women during the early twentieth century. In the play, Glaspell implies that Minnie was trapped in an unhappy marriage. Before getting married, Minnie was a beautiful and happy young woman. All this seemed to vanish once she became Mrs Wright. Her role was restricted to looking after her abusive husband, and she was not allowed to interact with friends or have contact with the outside world. Such a situation meant she was often lonely, and living in an isolated rural farmhouse made the experience even worse. In the end, she must have felt that she had to do away with her husband to regain her freedom (Gomes 59).

The cold winter months and isolation of the farm alludes to Minnie's loneliness in an empty farmhouse without the laughter associated with children and characterized by distant neighbors. The kitchen would be expected to have the warmth from stoves. However, when the sheriff, the county attorney, a neighbor, and their wives arrive, there is an unpleasant chill since the fire has long gone out. Jelly jars in the cupboard containing fruits salads that Minnie preserved have cracked after freezing. According to Carpentier & Jouve (109), the ruined fruits and frozen jars indicate the coldness of Mr Wright's heart, which has caused a lot of suffering and loneliness for his wife. There is also a dead canary inside the cupboards. This happens to be the same bird that kept Minnie's solitary soul company and which is no more thanks to her authoritarian husband.

The time setting of the early twentieth century also plays a crucial role in depicting the oppression of women. During this period, women had little voice in domestic matters and were expected to obey men without question. Women were looked down upon even in their own homes and were often victims of emotional abuse and neglect. For a woman who was once attractive, well-dressed and a member of the church choir, the fact that Minnie wears torn clothes in an indicator of neglect.

In the course of the investigation into Mr Wright's murder, Sherriff Peters' wife and Mrs Hale try to offer help. However, their husbands do not take them seriously and ignore what they say (Ben-Zvi 41). This was typical of the early 1900s where men rarely gave thought to their wives' opinions. Married women were considered mere mothers of their husbands' children. It is eventually revealed that, had the men listened to the women, they would have succeeded in solving the murder. Realizing that Mr Wright got what he deserved, the women conspired to hide the strangled bird, and thus eliminating the only proof that Minnie killed her husband.

Works Cited

Ben-Zvi, Linda. ""A Different Kind of the Same Thing": The Early One-Act Plays of Susan Glaspell and JM Synge." The Eugene O'Neill Review 39.1 (2018): 33-47.

Carpentier, Martha C., and Emeline Jouve. On Susan Glaspell's Trifles and" A Jury of Her Peers": Centennial Essays, Interviews and Adaptations. McFarland, 2015. Print.

Gomes, Elisabete Pinto. "Between the theatre and the classroom: from Trifles to A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell." e-Teals: an e-journal of Teacher Education and Applied Language Studies 3 (2018): 57-75.

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