What are the main literary elements that are used in Trifles?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Crucially, the biggest literary element that is utilised in this excellent play is irony. You cannot really grasp the message of the play if you do not identify that there is a conflict between men and women in this play. Consider the scenario: The Sherrif, County Attorney and Mr. Hale have come to the Wright's house to find some evidence that would convict Minnie Wright of her husband's murder. They are patronising and dismissive about any observations that the women make. Yet it is the women themselves, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, who, by using their knowledge of how households operate, find the motive for the murder and are able, with their "trifles," to achieve what the men are unable to.

Note how this theme is established. The men look at the kitchen and see nothing but "a nice mess." When Mrs. Peters expresses concern about Minnie Wright's preserves, Hale responds:

Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

Ironically, it is the trifles that the men are so quick so dismiss and overlook that prevent them from piecing together what happened. This irony runs throughout the play, right up until the end when the County Attorney "facetiously" makes reference to the quilt that the women have identified as a piece of evidence.

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