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Trifle by Susan Glaspell Essay

Trifle is considered as one of the perfectly structured one act play. Control is so wonderful that play encircles all aspect of the main theme. Although it has many turns and twists but it does not deviate from the main theme or provide irrelevant information. Although it belongs to genre of detective mystery but it has used all the literary tools and techniques of a great one-act play. Holstein (2003) regards Trifles as highly illusory as on the surface level it seems “simple, almost inconsequential” (282). It captivates the reader as story is gradually disclosed and plot is moved toward the final conclusion.

The structure of Trifles shapes all of its most vital ingredients the plot, characters, and themes. Play takes into accounts various social issues from a new perspective. For example, Glaspell questions the concept of crime and concept of justice. She further considers certain social and moral dilemmas with a tone of feminism. Subtle illustration about the suppression of women and its social and moral roots remains a thematic thread that runs throughout the plot of the play. Trifle by Susan Glaspell is a highly symbolic story that epitomizes the spirit of its respective period and contemporary society.

Glaspell’s work depicts influence of contemporary feminist thought that raised its voice against the male-female disparity and social injustice. Minnie Wright is the protagonist and focus point of the play. Glasspell has utilized the subtle literary technique i. e. although she is the major character; she has no voice or virtual presence in the play. Glasspell want to illustrate the triviality of women characters in the contemporary society that they have no say in their own matters. Although Minnie’s emotions, motives, and her fate are the issue around which the play revolves, but she is never noticed in the play.

Glasspell uses symbolism as a valid literary device to convey thematic messages. For example she uses bird as a symbol of friendly alternative. It is tool of escapism from the real life. For Minnie, the bird was a “child-substitute for the solitary Minnie; the canary’s voice was to displace the silence of a coldly authoritarian husband and replace the sounds of the unborn children” (Makowsky 62). Makowsky further illustrates that “through the traditional literary metaphor of the bird’s song as the voice of the soul, the women acknowledge that John Wright not only killed Minnie’s canary, but her very spirit”.

(Makowsky 62) Glaspell’s play is based on a murder mystery that she reported as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News. Glasspell does not provide the graphical description but she looks at the psychological realism of the situations. Glasspell tries to locate the psychological interpretation behind every move(s) of the character(s). For Smith has rightly pointed out; “”From their entrance, the women stand apart from the men, clustered at the stove. The men talk with a rough familiarity born of working together and knowing one another. The women seem less acquainted and never call each other by their first names.

But at the men’s first disparaging remarks about Minnie’s housekeeping and women ‘worrying over trifles,’ the women move closer together” (Smith 177). References Makowsky, Veronica. Susan Glaspell’s Century of American Women: A Critical Interpretation of Her Work. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. Smith, Beverly A. “Women’s Work–Trifles? The Skill and Insights of Playwright Susan Glaspell. ” International Journal of Women’s Studies 5 (March 1982): 172-84. Holstein, Suzy. “Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell’s Trifles. ” The Midwest Quarterly 44 (2003): 282-290.

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