Give three reasons why Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters may have behaved as they did—specifically, what drives them to go against the men in Susan Glaspell's play, Trifles?

1 Answer | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Susan Glaspell's play, Trifles, the men belittle the hard work women exert in making their houses clean and comfortable, and other chores such as putting up preserves or sewing. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters very much resent the cavalier attitude of the men—they take it as a personal affront to how much they have personally endured in caring for house, husband and children. The men are portrayed as callous and clueless.

In light of Mrs. Wright's arrest, as the women collect materials to take to the jail where their neighbor is being held for allegedly killing her husband while he slept, they make certain discoveries that, when coupled with the attitudes of the men, make the women much more sympathetic to the suffering Mrs. Wright had to endure at the hands of her husband.

First, Mrs. Hale recalls the kind of man Mr. Wright was:

MRS. HALE. ...Did you know John Wright, Mrs. Peters?

MRS. PETERS. Not to know him; I've seen him in town. They say he was a good man.

MRS. HALE. Yes--good; he didn't drink, and kept his word as well as most, I guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to pass the time of day with him. (Shivers.) Like a raw wind that gets to the bone.

Mrs. Hale's shiver as she considers spending "the time of day with him...like a raw wind" not only foreshadows the conclusion the women come to, but also infers how difficult it would have been to be married to such a man.

Second, the women find the bird cage and note what terrible condition it is in, as if the door has been ripped off:

MRS. PETERS. (examining the cage). Why, look at this door. It's broke. One hinge is pulled apart.

MRS. HALE. (looking, too.) Looks as if someone must have been rough with it.

When the women discover the body of the dead bird, they quickly understand how it died and who killed it. Having recalled what a sweet woman Mrs. Wright was before she married, they realize that in a fit of rage her husband destroyed the only thing Minnie Foster Wright cared about—without children, it was the only thing that brought her joy.

MRS. HALE (lifting the silk.) Oh, Mrs. Peters--it's-- (Mrs. Peters bend closer.)

MRS. PETERS. It's the bird.

MRS. HALE (jumping up.) But, Mrs. Peters--look at it. Its neck! Look at its neck! It's all--other side to.

MRS. PETERS. Somebody--wrung--its neck. 
(Their eyes meet. A look of growing comprehension of horror. Steps are heard outside. Mrs. Hale slips box under quilt pieces, and sinks into her chair...)

The knowledge of the act that caused Mrs. Wright to "snap" not only draws Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale together in defense of Minnie's probable crime, but it also creates an unspoken agreement between the women to keep the men from finding anything that could convict Mrs. Wright.

We’ve answered 318,985 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question