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Can I please get an annotated bibliography of this literary criticism of Trifles by...

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user100400 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:31 AM via web

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Can I please get an annotated bibliography of this literary criticism of Trifles by Susan Glaspell?

Glaspell's 'Trifles.' (interpretation of Susan Glaspell's play) by Judith Kay Russell

Drama for Students, ©2013 Gale Cengage

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM (Answer #1)

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Source: Russell, Judith. "Glaspell’s Trifles.” Explicator.  Vol. 55, no. 2. Winter, 1997, 88–90.

This essay compares the three women characters in Trifles by Susan Glaspell to three Greek mythological figures called the Fates. According to the hypothesis of the author, Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Peters, and Mrs. Wright represent the Fates and their responsibilities for the human race. 

The rest of this is a paraphrase of the information in the denoted essay.

In Trifles, Mrs. Hale weaves the story or describes the circumstances, Mrs. Peters weighs the evidence and determines the direction of justice, and Mrs. Wright carries out the verdict; although the procedure is somewhat reversed, the mythic ritual is performed nevertheless.

In Greek mythology, the Fates had been given the responsibility for controlling  the fate of mankind: Clotho, the spinner, who spun the clothe of a man’s life; Lachesis, the Disposer of Lots, who determined what happened in the person’s life; and Atropos, the Cutter of the thread, who decided when to end a person’s life.

Mrs. Hale represents Clotho.  When the quilt is discovered and the skewed stitches are noticed, Mrs. Hale resews that part of the quilt for her. She supplies the information about the life of Minnie  Foster Wright as a girl.  One of the things that she notes is how much Minnie resembled a bird and how much she had changed after she married John Wright. Mrs. Hale is the first to stand up for Minnie and to understand that everything cannot always be black and white. Mrs. Hale's life has not been “a bed of roses,” and she seems able to identify with  Mrs. Wright’s plight as a farm wife, particularly with no children. Keeping the information from the men begins with Mrs. Hale who feels some guilt and responsibility because she was not a good neighbor.

Mrs. Peters epitomizes Lachesis, who served as the determiner of the fate of an individual.  Mrs. Peters feels an obligation to  the law since she is the sheriff’s wife.  At every turn, Mrs. Peters points out that this is a crime,  and someone has to be punished.  Her objectivity represents initially her need to do what she was there for and make no judgments.  As the events unfold,  Mrs. Peters begins to see Minnie Foster as a real person who may have been pushed to the point of retaliation.  She recalls an event in which she lost a kitten to a mean spirited boy.  She knows how it feels to lose something that a person loves. Through her finding that sometimes justice outweighs legalities, Mrs. Peters decides to keep the information that they have gathered between the two women and not share it with the men.

Mrs. Wright embodies Atropos. The tool that Atropos uses to end the life of a person is the scissors.  When the bird is discovered, the women think that they have found the box that contains her scissors.  Ironically, the bird has replaced the scissors.  The killing of the bird determines the length of John Wright’s life.  When he kills the bird by wringing its neck, Minnie Wright seeks revenge by killing her husband in the same way. The rope that she uses to wring the neck of her husband symbolizes the thread of life that is cut by the deadliest of the Fates: Atropos.

 

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