Minnie Wright, perhaps the most important character in the play Trifles never appears on stage. What clues to her character are in the play?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.