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This is such a great play...the short story "A Jury of her Peers" is the same idea in a slightly different format.
Based on a true story, Glaspell wrote these works after reading a newspaper article reporting on a woman in the same situation.
Minnie Wright, a farmer's wife, is accused of killing her husband, John Wright, by strangling him with a rope.
The play begins with the Sheriff, the neigboring farmer, and the attorney at the farm with the Sheriff and farmer's wives. They are there to gather evidence against Minnie.
The entire time the men are on stage, they are criticizing Minnie for her poor housekeeping skills, and the women who are there for their idle chatter about "trifles". For example, the preserves, the quilt being knotted or quilted, and the birdcage.
They do not know it, but these seemingly unimportant details that the men poke fun at are the very motives and evidence for the murder of Minnie's husband.
The women discover what the men need to convict Minnie, but they decide to hide it based on their ability to understand what Minnie went through in her marriage to John. They have judged her, found her guilty, but set her free since they believe she has suffered enough already. In their eyes, perhaps John Wright did not deserve to die, but he is the guilty party for his abuse of his wife and the murder of her bird.
The men believe that the women are not able to figure out what had happened in the Wright home. The men stumble around the home looking for clues but it is their wives that peice together what happened by looking at the state of the house. When the men notice what the women are doing the men dismiss what the wives have found, calling them "trifles".
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