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Trifles Summary & Exercise - NEB

Trifles is a one-act play written by an American playwright Susan Glaspell. The writer has artistically presented suspense and mystery in this one-act

Summary of Trifles

Susan Glaspell, an American writer, wrote the one-act drama 'Trifles.' This drama is about the investigation of Mr. John Wright's murder. This drama dealt with a variety of topics, including masculine dominance, loneliness, loss of identity, vengeance and violence, and liberation through revolt. This drama was first performed on August 8, 1916, at violence, freedom through revolt.

Trifles Summary & Exercise [One-Act Play Question Answer]
Trifles Summary & Exercise [One-Act Play Question Answer] NEB - 11


Susan Glaspell, an American writer, wrote the one-act drama Trifles. In this one-act drama, the author has created suspense and mystery using aesthetic means. In the same way, he discussed numerous facets of women's life and self-priorities. Trifles has portrayed different issues about women's life such as solitude, loss of identity, male dominance, vengeance and violence, feminism, independence via revolt, and so on. In the drama, there is an inquiry into a murder case. Mr. John Wright's abandoned home serves as the setting for the drama.

Summary of Trifles

George Henderson, Mr. Peters, Mr. Hale, Mrs. Peters, and Mrs. Hale are the primary characters in the play. The farmhouse is a lonely and depressing place. The County Attorney, George Henderson, Mr. Henry Peters, and Mr. Lewis Hale first enter the kitchen of the residence where the murder occurred. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale come after them all. The kitchen is in a state of extreme disarray. When they arrive, everything is disorganized and unkempt. Some of them are also broken. Dishes are scattered across the kitchen, a dishtowel is on the table, unclean pans are beneath the sink, and so on. Mrs. Peters informs the Attorney that Mrs. Wright was concerned about her preserver.

Mr. George Henderson begins his further investigation from the kitchen. He allows Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to gather a few belongings for Mrs. Wright before going upstairs in search of evidence. Mrs. Hale rearranges the kitchen to its tidy condition before the men enter it. She relates to Mrs. Peters that Mrs. Wright was a quite popular singer thirty years back and known as Minnie Foster. She believes that she was sad and unhappy after her marriage. The women find the sewing on a quilt to be wrong and want to fix it. They search for the paper and string in the cupboard to complete the quilt. Instead, she finds a broken birdcage in the cupboard. They notice the head of the bird is in the same condition as that of Mr. Wright. 

They talk about the missing bird too. Then, the women make a new insight into Mrs. Wright's situation. They speculate that her husband must have killed the bird. They connect Mr. John Wright's murder to the Canary’s death. They both reveal the case related to necks. It must have been awful for her that after so many years of emptiness the only bird that sang was also killed in her rage, she must have murdered her husband Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale decide to hide the evidence they have found as to Mrs. Wright's motive. Men take no notice thinking as the item as trifles. They come with no clues whereas women get full proof but remain silent. 

Thus, this play is about gender discrimination, domestic violence, injustice, male discrimination and also about revenge. This play warns the husbands like Mr. Wright to change their behaviour and vision towards women. 

Who is the  Writer of Trifles

Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) was an American playwright, novelist, journalist and actress. First known for her short stories (fifty were published), Glaspell is known also to have written nine novels, fifteen plays, and a biography. Her works typically explore contemporary social issues, such as gender, ethics, and dissent, while featuring deep, sympathetic characters. Her first novel The Glory of the Conquered was published in 1909. She wrote three best-selling novels Brook Evans (1928), Fugitive's Return (1929), and Ambrose Holt and Family (1931). Her first play Trifles (1916) was based on the murder trial she had covered as a young reporter in Des Moines. Her play Alison's House (1930) earned the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1931. 

Glaspell is recognized as a pioneering feminist writer and America's first important modern female playwright. The play Trifles revolves around murder investigation providing a perspective about the status of women in contemporary American society reflecting the male mentality as the dominant gender. Trifles chronicle the day after Mrs. Wright is arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband. Though the play is about the Wrights and the circumstances of Mr. Wright’s death, Mrs. Wright never appears onstage. The audience learns about her from the perspective of her neighbours and their reactions to items they find inside the Wrights’ home. 



a. Do you believe that Mrs. Wright killed her husband? Explain. 

Answer: Because the neck positions in both cases are identical, I do think Mrs. Wright killed her husband. Based on the circumstances, I think her spouse killed her pet canary. The bird was adored by Mrs. So when her husband snapped the animal's neck, she was unable to handle it and murdered him. Additionally, Mrs. Wright had also experienced domestic violence. She and her spouse didn't have a nice relationship right away. He had obsession issues. He was murdered by Mrs. Wright in order to avoid all of these issues.

b. Do you think Mr. Wright’s death would have been uncovered if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped by the Wrights’ home? 

Answer: No, I don't believe Mr. Hale's visit to the Wrights' house would have led to the discovery of Mr. Wright's death. Mr. Wright wouldn't have been discovered dead if Mr. Hale hadn't made a visit to the Wrights' residence since it was distant from the road. She could have been able to conceal the body because not many people visit the home. 

c. Why does Mrs. Hale think that Mrs. Wright’s worries about her preserves indicate her innocence? 

Answer: Mrs. Hale thinks that Mrs. Wright's worries about her preserves indicate her innocence because she takes care of the household things. She cares about every tiny thing related to her housekeeping skills. Such persons cannot dare to commit murder. Her carefulness towards her trifles related to housekeeping skills shows her innocence. 

d. How does Mrs. Peters’ homesteading experience connect her to Mrs. Wright? 

Answer: The following ways Mrs. Peters' homesteading background links her to Mrs. Wright: When she was a girl, she had a kitty. She misplaced it when a kid slaughtered it in front of her with a hatchet. She become really enraged at the boy. She was thought to harbor feelings of vengeance for the boy. Her connection to Mrs. Wright's desire for retribution against the canary killer stems from this event. Her first kid, who was two years old, passed away. Without her beloved kid, she had through terrible times. She can relate to Mrs. Wright's difficult time without her beloved canary because of this event.

e. How do the women’s perspectives on men differ? 

Answer: The women feel that because they live in a culture where males predominate, they have all experienced domestic abuse. Men constantly make fun of women's viewpoints during the investigation. Not all males take women's actions and opinions seriously. Women's viewpoints are viewed as trivial by males while they are searching for evidence. They discover the murder's motivation, though, and band together with Mrs. Wright to break the law.


 a. “MRS. PETERS:(glancing around). Seems funny to think of a bird here. But she must have had one, or why would she have a cage? I wonder what happened to it? 

MRS. HALE: I suppose maybe the cat got it.” 

i. Who does ‘she’ refer to? 

Answer: She refers to Mrs. Wright. 

ii. What does the word ‘one’ stand for? 

Answer: The word 'one' stands for a bird. 

iii. What is the full form of “s’pose”? 

Answer: The full form of "s'pose" is "suppose." 

iv. What do you mean when Mrs. Hale says, “the cat got it”? 

Answer: When Mrs. Hale says, "the cat got it", I mean "the cat must have caught the bird." 

b. “MRS. HALE: Wright was close. …… she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that— oh, that was thirty years ago.” 

i. Why does Mrs. Hale refer to Mrs. Wright as “Minnie Foster”? 

Answer: Mrs. Hale refers to Mrs. Wright as "Minnie Foster" because Mrs. Wright was a very beautiful singer before her marriage. She was known as Minnie Foster who used to wear pretty clothes and sing in the choir. 

ii. What does her description tell you about Mrs. Wright? 

Answer: Her description tells me that Mrs. Wright was a quite beautiful singer before her marriage. She was well-known singer popularized as Minnie Foster. She used to wear pretty clothes at that time. 

iii. What does Mrs. Hale mean by “that was thirty years ago”? 

Answer: By 'that thirty years ago' Mrs. Hale means the past time while Mrs. Wright was an unmarried and well-known singer known as Minnie Foster. 

c. What is the main theme of the play? 

Answer: The main theme of the play is the status of women in contemporary American society and males' dominant nature over women. Apart from this, we find various themes within this play as isolation, loss of identity, revenge and violence, freedom by rebellion. 

d. Discuss the symbolism used in the play. 

Answer: Symbolism is a literary technique in which a notion is represented through symbols or the underlying meanings of things or attributes. In this play, we uncover a variety of objects that represent a variety of hidden meanings. The following are the symbols used in the play: The preserves include: feminineness Rope: vengeance Singing Canary bird: liberty Restriction in the birdcage Canary's neck wrung: tit for tat retaliation Murder with a rope: knotting in a patchwork The rocking chair: a place to unwind and have fun

e. Discuss the setting of the play. Does it have an impact on the theme of the play? 

Answer: This drama is set on Mr. John Wright's abandoned home. It's a lonely, dreary, and chilly location. The location is somewhat remote from the highway. The scenario depicted the lives of current American women who used to be subject to their husbands' dominance and duties. They used to live in seclusion and limitation inside the confines of their dwellings. The house's setting even implies masculine domination over women. The environment of the Trifles also helps to comprehend the characters and propels the narrative along.

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