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1. Minnie Foster shows little concern when the male investigatorsarrive at her home. She even appears indifferent to the death of herhusband. Several details reveal aspects of her troubled mind. Thefirst concerns the chaotic state of her kitchen. The county attorneycites Minnie`s incompetence as a homemaker. However, the womenperceive the disorganized state as symbolic of the difficulties sheexperiences in her marriage. In fact, Mrs. Hale blames herself fornot acting to alleviate Mrs. Wright’s isolation in her marriage.She exclaimed, “Oh, I wish I’d come over here once in a while”(McMahan 976).
The faultyhandiwork on one section of the quilt also reveals Minnie’stroubled mind. Traditionally, quilts were associated with warmth andlove. Therefore, the women interpret the faulty stitches asrepresentative of the lack of warmth and love in the marriage. Minniehad not only suffered due to her loveless marriage but had alsofailed at her restorative attempts. Another detail that revealsMinnie’s troubled mind concerns the discovery of the strangledbird. Mrs. Hale stated that Mrs. Wright “used to wear prettyclothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the towngirls singing in the choir” (McMahan 972). Therefore, the womeninterpret the strangled bird as representative of Minnie’stransformation from bliss to marital discord and incompatibility.
2. Lewis Halenotably remarked that “women are used to worrying over trifles”(McMahan 971). The context around this statement helps to explain whythe Susan Glaspell entitled the play as "Trifles." Thesheriff and the county attorney were cross-examining Hale so as togive his testimony. Hale had been the first person to interact withMinnie after the death of her husband. He recounted how she had"looked queer" (McMahan 969). While she was held formurder, Mrs. Wright had sent her female companions to her home tofetch some things for her. At the home, the county attorney and theSheriff dismissed the kitchen as a "nice mess" (McMahan970). Mrs. Peters relayed Minnie`s concern for her fruit. Mrs. Wrightwas worried that her jars would break once the fire died out. In thatinstance, the sheriff and the county attorney felt that Minnie had"something more serious than preserves to worry about"(McMahan 971).
Glaspell used thetitle “Trifles” to show the condescending views that men hadtowards women. In this respect, the author highlights how women areridiculed for seeming to focus on minor, negligible details. However,it is the women’s insistence on the supposedly irrelevant factorsthat uncovers the required evidence. The title also connects tolarger themes of patriarchal oppression. After all, Minnie hadendured emotional pain stemming from systemic abuse under hertyrannical husband. Therefore, the title of the play shows howseemingly insignificant acts could inspire terrible actions.
3. A sentencewith tone can be seen when the county sheriff says, “Oh, I guessthey’re not very dangerous things the ladies have picked out”(McMahan 977). This statement depicts an ironical tone since thewomen had uncovered the required evidence. The county sheriff alsomoved the quilt items in a dismissive manner while praising Mrs.Peters for her uprightness and reliability. However, Mrs. Peters hadjust conspired to hide the evidence which was an illegal act. Thedifference between what is said and what is meant shows thecondescending view that the men had towards the women.
4. Glaspellalters the method of murder so as to encourage a sympathetic view ofMinnie’s actions. In the real-life account, Margaret Hossack wassentenced to life incarceration for killing her husband. However,Glaspell shows that Mrs. Wright strangled her husband instead. Mrs.Peters remarked that “it was an awful thing done in this house thatnight, Mrs. Hale. Killing a man while he slept, slipping a ropearound his neck that choked the life out of him” (McMahan 976). Theact of strangulation was used so as to make a connection to thecanary being strangled. Glaspell portrays Minnie’s action ofstrangling the bird as representative of Mr. Wright stifling hiswife’s joy. Therefore, the author attempts to make the readerexcuse Minnie’s actions by focusing on her motives rather than theact. In this manner, Glaspell wants Mrs. Wright to get a morefavorable verdict than that of Margaret.
5. Mrs. Petersmentions the pain and anger that she felt when a boy killed herkitten with a hatchet. She confesses that if they had not held herback, she would have "hurt him" (McMahan 976). In thismanner, Mrs. Peters relates her experience to that of Mrs. Wright.Minnie loved the bird since it could sing. It could be said that thebird reflected her joy “when she wore a white dress with blueribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang” (McMahan 976).Therefore, strangling the bird shows the extent to which her husbandhad stifled her joy. Minnie’s murderous action was no different tothe hateful intent of Mrs. Peters to harm the boy that hacked herkitten to death. Consequently, she chose to hide the incriminatingevidence against Mrs. Wright.
6. Legalprovisions require Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale to disclose anyinformation relevant to solving the murder. The two women hadstumbled upon crucial pieces of evidence that would aid in theinvestigation. Failure to reveal these details would practicallyrender the two women as accomplices. It would also imply that theycondoned murder. Granted, Mrs. Wright had suffered for years in afailed marriage. Her husband had trumped her joy and failed to giveher due respect. In this regard, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters may havefelt inclined to protect Minnie from the undesirable consequences ofher action. Mrs. Hale considered Minnie’s circumstances andacknowledged that “we all go through the same things–it’s alljust a different kind of the same thing” (McMahan 176). In such apatriarchal society, Minnie would have been unjustly treated if suchevidence was revealed. Nevertheless, human life ought to be highlyregarded. Certainly, no amount of marital strife validated murder.Furthermore, Mrs. Peters had agreed to “keep an eye on anythingthat might be of use” to the county attorney (McMahan 971).Therefore, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters had a moral obligation to sharewhat they had discovered.
McMahan, Elizabeth et al. Literature and the writing process.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2014. Print.