The Play Trifles by Susan Glaspell


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The short one-act play Trifles by Susan Glaspell, was years ahead of its time. Its time was 1916 but the subject matter is timeless. The aspect of this play that most caught my interest was the contrast between the men and women characters. This is a play written in the early 1900s but transcends time periods and cultures. This play has many strengths and few weaknesses, but helps to provide a very accurate portrait of early American women and the issues they dealt with in everyday comings and goings.
     The use of vernacular speech, in this play, lends to the overall feeling of life in the early 20th century. This definitely aids in establishing a link with this play’s key audience, women. And also helps to establish the play’s surroundings and setting. The use of language provides a backdrop for the play, illustrating the differences between men and women.
     More so, the purpose of this play was to illustrate the common bond between women, even in the face of the law. It proves that in hard times people of a common bond usually stick together, and written in the face of the up and coming women’s suffrage movement provides the reader with a real understanding of the motivation and the dedication these women put into their work.
     The symbolism used in this play is directed at the need for equal rights for women, and the role many men played in squashing that dream. The bird and bird cage are metaphors for the laws in place which prevent women from voting and the need to be free from those oppressors. The singing of the bird is symbolically the out crying of a nation of women who demand the right to vote. Also the husband, who broke the bird’s neck, represents the men who oppressed and opposed women, and who ultimately meet their demise. The last truly symbolic instance is the knotting of the rope and the knotting of the stitches. The fact that the women in this play stay together till the end, draws back upon the very essence of the women’s suffrage movement.
     The ending of this play leaves much in the open. The audience never learns of the fate of Mrs. Wright. The relationship between men and women, more so husbands and wives, is front stage in this play.

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Just as many husbands and wives had very different opinions on rights, the sheriff’s wife is outwardly defiant and aids in helping Mrs. Wright.
     Written obviously to express her concerns about the life women were leading, this play provides a look at the relationship between men and women, from the woman’s perspective, which was extremely rare in the 1920s. Written with brilliant imagery and contextual relevancy, this play’s value will continue to live on a sign of women’s independence and resolve.      


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