What is the value in Trifles?Value

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The ironic title of Susan Glaspell's one-act play Trifles refers to the way in which the men of the play down-play and also devalue the preoccupations and observations of women.

This down-play is a direct characterization of chauvinism, male social dominance, and the erroneous idea that women are creatures of mere emotion, and without the skills, schema, nor ability to know any better.

HALE-Well, women are used to worrying over trifles. [The two women move a little closer together.]

COUNTY ATTORNEY-[With the gallantry of a young politician.]
And yet, for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies?

However, we see how the characters of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are cleverly used to counteract the male-dominated atmosphere, and to beat the male characters at their own game.

This is because, when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are left alone, they use their womanly instinct, as well as the valuable life experiences that they have acquired as wives, homemakers, and mothers, to create a very accurate character profile of Minnie Wright. Moreover, they use this intelligence to make the connections that, eventually, lead to the answer of the great mystery of the death of John Wright

MRS. HALE:  There's something wrapped up in this piece of silk.
MRS. PETERS: Why, this isn't her scissors.
MRS. HALE: [ lifting the silk.] Oh, Mrs. Peters -- its -- [MRS. PETERS bends closer.]
MRS. PETERS: It's the bird.
MRS. HALE: [Jumping up.] But, Mrs. Peters -- look at it! It's neck! Look at its neck! It's all -- other side to.
MRS. PETERS: Somebody -- wrung -- its -- neck.

Here is when the women realize that, more than likely, Minnie Wright snapped when her only companion, a canary, was viciously killed by Minnie's abusive husband, John. As a result, Minnie kills her husband in a similar way. However, the clues that lead to this discovery would have never been found out by the men's one-sided mentality. It is the women, noticing every detail, who get to the epicenter of what is Minnie Wright's tragedy.

Hence, the so-called "trifles" are actually the things that amount to the entire value of the play. If it had not been for the women's connections in noticing simple things such as Minnie Wright's disordered stitching, the frozen preserves, the state of the house, and the dead canary, there would have never been an answer to what really occurred in the Wright household.


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