How is symbolism used to explore social change in "Trifles"?Explain how symbolism is used to explore social change? 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fruit preserves are symbolic of a life of domesticity that is fraught with unhappiness.

One of the play’s main messages is that the things that seem the least significant are sometimes the most significant.  Change comes from people recognizing what is important to others.  As they say, the Devil is in the details. 

An example of the minor details that make up life is the “trifles” of the fruit preserves.  Mrs. Peters finds the preserves and realizes that they are frozen.

Oh, her fruit; it did freeze.

The county attorney jokes that she has more to worry about than preserves, but he has missed the point.  Her life was so sad and isolated that even when confronted with a murder rap she cannot face it.  Her reality was made up of a million small things.  The men do not see this.  Only the women notice.  Until the men see, there can be no change.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the biggest symbols in the play Trifles is Minnie Wright's dead canary, found in her sewing kit.  Glaspell uses the dead canary to symbolize John Wright's harsh and controlling role as a husband; the symbolism evident in Trifles, the odds and ends of an unhappy woman's life, represents not only the isolation often felt by women, but also the differences between the two genders.  Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are able to recognize Mrs. Wright's desperation and loneliness on a level which their husbands could never begin to understand.  The play Trifles uses symbolism to raise social awareness and facilitate understanding of differences in reality between the two genders.