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In this one-act play, a group of men is investigating a murder. They are a law enforcement official, an attorney and some neighbors. They suspect the wife, Mrs. Wright. She is present, sitting in a rocking chair. It is obvious that she is guilty of strangling him in his sleep. There are some women present as well. The women are concerned with what the men term "trifles" - what to do about the broken jars of fruit, what clothes they should help her pack for her stay in prison, whether she was going to knot the quilt she was working on, etc. Each time one of the women asks a question of the men, the men laugh and blow it off as the mere "trifles" of women.
But then, ah ha! The women discover something. It is a mere trifle, a small yellow canary, wrapped in a cloth, with its neck broken. It reminds them of the strangled neck of Mr. Wright! As the men come back into the room, the women quickly hide the little bird. The men are looking for some big piece of evidence to prove the motive for the murder, and yet the proof is a mere trifle, the little bird, indicating that Mrs. Wright killed her husband in the same manner as he had no doubt killed her little bird.
The theme points out the gender differences in men and women. Men are blowing off the women for messing with trifles, yet it is they that come upon the evidence. Also, Mrs. Wright was obviously an abused woman, and the men are totally ignoring this fact, whereas the women are alluding to it as they discuss Mrs. Wright's past life - she used to wear pretty clothes, she used to sing, and now, they see evidence in the house of an unhappy life. The men, of course, miss all of this. They cannot see the forest for the trees.
I like this play. The action is very tight. A lot is inferred and I believe it is skillfully written through mostly dialogue. What do you think? It is a bit grim, though.
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