In Glaspell's play, "Trifles," how does spectacle (stage direction, setting, etc.) arouse pity?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of the play arouses pity immediately. The house is in the middle of nowhere, suggesting the loneliness of Mrs. Wright. We also get a sense of how domineering Mr. Wright was over his wife by what Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale say about him. "I don't think a place'd be any cheerfuller for John Wright's being in it." Mrs. Wright had no friends and no family to turn to. She was totally controlled by her husband, as was the custom of the day. This is supported by how the two women react when the men come in and out of the kitchen. When the men leave, the women start talking and discovering the clues to the murder. As soon as the men enter the room, they stop talking. This emphasizes the role of women in society during this period of time.

Because Trifles is a one-act play, characters must be developed quickly in one setting, and the plot is very tight. Therefore, everything that is said and done in the play is important in some way. We feel pity for Mrs. Wright even though we never see her, and this pity is developed by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters.

Go to the link below to get a more detailed description of the play, events, and the characters. I hope this helps--good luck!

libertybell | Student


Yes that is kind of what im looking for.  I am looking specifically for exchanges, dialogue, and stage directions that would make you feel sorry for (or pity) the husband character in "Trifles."  Any help would be great!!

jarvismulhuland | Student

"Spectacle" is defined by Aristotle in his Poetics as te "Stage-appearance of the actors." Aristotle also notes that it is an essential element of what defines dramatic poetry: "tragice fear and pity may be aroused by the spectacle," Aristotle writes. In other words, spectacle is what happens on stage, what the audience sees in addition to what it hears. Are you tring to use the play "Trifles" to discuss how the playwright utilized stage directions, setting, sound, soctumes, or any other factor of spectacle which is important to the arousal of "fear or pity" (or comedy, or any other primary dramatic end)?

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