What clues to Minnie Wright's character are given in the play Trifles?

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Minnie Wright is a woman who experienced a very hard transformation in her life, from youthful and pretty, to an older and plainer version of herself. Looking at Minnie Wright from this point of view, we can see that she has become an unhappy person who, even though she is married to John Wright , feels lonely, unimportant and insignificant. The play Trifles develops around the examination of women's roles in the early twentieth century. The main character in this play is Mrs. Wright. She is accused for murder but there are many clues in the story that prove beyond doubt that she did not kill her husband. In fact she was a victim of his abuse and neglect. The first clue supporting Mrs.

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In Susan Glaspell's Trifles, Minnie Wright, who never appears on stage, is oddly the character about whom the reader (or viewer) learns the most. What is learned about her comes from the other characters in the play—primarily Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters.

At the beginning of the play, it is revealed that Mrs. Wright is in jail, suspected of killing her husband. The sheriff, county attorney, and Hale go back and forth from the stage to offstage, while Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are on stage the entire time. The three men are tasked with finding evidence for Mr. Wright's murder; however, the "evidence" they seek is found and subsequently hidden by the two women.

Some clues to Mrs. Wright's character (as well as the "evidence" found by the two women) are as follows:

  • When Hale first encounters her, she is behaving in an odd manner; she nervously laughs when being questioned about her husband's death and is rocking back and forth in her chair.
  • While in prison, she asks for an apron, a shawl, and the status of her jarred fruit preserves.
  • She used to keep a tidy house, but lately it appeared as if she had stopped.
  • She used to have a bird, which died of unknown causes (though speculation leads the two women to believe her husband killed it); she cared enough for the bird to wrap it in silk, place it in a "pretty box," and presumably bury it in the garden.
  • She was in the process of piecing together a quilt, but the most recent piece had been sewn erratically.
  • She had no children, and her husband was distant (at work as well as at home).
  • Her friends had been distant lately; Mrs. Hale, for instance, had not seen her in a year.
  • She used to be "sweet and pretty . . . timid and—fluttery"; recently, however, she had "changed."
  • She used to sing in a choir; here, there is a direct parallel (singing) between Mrs. Wright and her bird, which showcases her relationship and closeness to her pet.

Each individual item by itself is not a major indication of any wrongdoing. When put together, however, one is left with the impression of a lonely, neglected wife who snaps after her husband kills her bird. There is societal pressure on her as a woman to keep a tidy house. There are marital problems in that her husband neglects her and is possibly abusive. She has no friends who are willing to see her, and no children to care for. Finally, the one thing she has that makes her happy is killed horrifically. All of this adds up to a pretty strong motive for murder. However, the reader (or viewer) is left feeling sympathy for Mrs. Wright through the two women's discussion and the condescension from the three men.

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It is true that Minnie Wright is the central character of the play Trifles. Her absence is due to the fact that, at the time the play starts, she is detained in jail while Sheriff Peters, the county attorney, the Sheriff's wife, and Minnie's farming neighbors, the Hales, try to connect the dots to determine what exactly occurred the night before at Minnie's house, where Minnie's husband John was murdered, presumably by Minnie.

While her character is not directly described in the play, Mrs. Hale, a fellow farmer's wife, tells Mrs. Peters that she had known Minnie in the past, before Minnie was married. Mrs. Hale is adamant in that the Minnie Forster (Minnie's maiden name) that she knew was very different from the current Minnie Wright.

  • She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that—oh, that was thirty years ago.
  • She used to sing real pretty herself.
  • She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery. How—she—did—change.
  • I wish you'd seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang

Learning that Mrs. Wright definitely has changed makes it simpler for the reader to image the state of her image. A woman who no longer wears pretty clothes nor participates in events of interest is likely to allow for signs of aging to begin to show up and for her own beat-down emotions to take over her looks. We can assume that Minnie is a woman who has a sad and tired expression, who has lost the dedication to looking pretty, and who may be so desolate that she hardly takes care of her appearance.

If she is no longer sweet and pretty we could assume that she has hardened through the abandonment of her husband, that her female looks have become almost androgynous, and that her glance definitely shows the signs of nervousness, judging from the state of her stitching.

Minnie Wright, as an abused woman, could not have felt as if she belonged to a home. This is why the state of her household was disparate and chaotic. She was merely surviving there, hoping that she could make it one day at a time. So disparate was her mind that even after having killed John, her mind seemed to have been somewhere else.

All this being said, Minnie Wright is still the same small woman whose diminutive size may have been taken by her husband as a sign of weakness. She is no longer pretty, nor sweet, but harsh in appearance and looking hardened by having to suffer so much. She certainly would not be a sight for sore eyes, if anything, she would show in the surface the effects of living in chaos.

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In Glaspell's play Trifles, the main character, Minnie Wright, does not appear on stage. How would you describe her?

Minnie Wright's character may not have appeared on stage in Susan Glaspell's playTrifles, but an approximate description of her physical appearance is possible thanks to the information that we get from Mrs. Hale regarding, not only Minnie's life before she marries John Wright, but also regarding the dynamics that take place in the lives of  farmers' wives.

The first instance that we get about Minnie does not come from Mrs. Hale, however, but from her husband. When he is asked about what events took place the day before the murder, he makes a mention of John's lack of regard for his wife.

I guess you know about how much he talked himself; but I thought maybe if I went to the house and talked about [getting a party telephone with him] before his wife, though I said to Harry that I didn't know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John..

From this brief statement we can picture a woman in very simple clothes (for she is a farmer's wife and lives in a farm), who may not have much motivation for fancying herself, given that her husband does not even care about her.

We can picture her looking disillusioned, and maybe feeling left out. Yet, we know that, for some reason, that night when Mr. Hale visits the Wrights, Minnie is described as being "kind of done up". Was Minnie trying to impress her husband one last time? Or was she celebrating his death for once and for all?

Mrs. Hale then adds her own information regarding Minnie. She explains to Mrs. Peters that Minnie is a woman who, before marriage, was indeed happier. 

[...] she kept so much to herself. She didn't even belong to the Ladies Aid. I suppose she felt she couldn't do her part, and then you don't enjoy things when you feel shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that -- oh, that was thirty years ago.

Again we see a mention to her feeling of shabbiness.  A woman who does not mingle enough with other women is not able to vent female issues, or even trade women's fancies such as dress, looks, or even the social learning of behaviors that women often share. Being that "that was thirty years ago", tells us that Minnie is middle aged, not very well-put together in terms of dress and probably carrying a sad demeanor that reflects her sad situation at home.

We also know that she must have had a constant look of worry and anxiety that reflects in her stitching- an activity that is intended for leisure. Hence, Minnie Wright's worried eyes must have been wide-open at all times.

[...] look at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It's all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn't know what she was about!

Additionally, we can say that Minnie is a beautiful woman but her looks are faded, hiding under a face that is now older, anxious, and depressed.

[..] she was[..] real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and -- fluttery. How -- she -- did -- change.

Finally, we can conclude that Minnie's beauty and talent is what made her cheerful and sweet. However, since John Wright "killed" all that, Minnie must now look diminutive, fragile, plain, with lost traits of her former beauty, simple and, in her eyes, you would have always seen a look of fear. Perhaps she "did herself up" that night because the monster who took her former beauty and joy is finally gone forever.






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