In the play "Trifles," how does the startling discovery qualify as epiphany, in contrast to the rocking chair moment?

Expert Answers
amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Hale visits with Mrs. Wright, she is in her rocking chair pleating her apron. Hale says she was acting weird. Hale asks to see John and she calmly says that he can not because John is dead. She is composed and even tells Hale how John died. However, she does not admit to doing it herself. She claims to have slept through the moments while John was being killed. Hale, like his male counterparts, does not pick up any clues in determining what happened or how and if in fact Mrs. Wright killed her husband. He only suspects. She does give him subtle clues: an abrupt laugh, a scared look, and general odd behavior. But he can not put together these "trifling" gestures. So, at that point, neither Hale nor the sheriff has any "aha" moments that would qualify as an epiphany. This is the point. The men in the story don't pay attention to minute details (trifles), so they don't come to any clear, accurate conclusion. 

On the other hand, the women do pay attention. The County Attorney dismisses Mrs. Hale's comment that it was an unhappy marriage. When she suggests that John was a difficult man to live with, the attorney puts that discussion off for a later time. The two women notice the only significant evidence in terms of Mrs. Wright's state of mind. Mrs. Hale notices the haphazard sewing. But the real epiphany comes with the discovery of the dead bird. They conclude that Mr. Wright killed the bird. They further conclude that Mrs. Wright killed him out of revenge. It wasn't just the bird's death. They are implying that Mr. Wright, in his poor treatment of his wife, had symbolically killed her over time. Upon looking at the dead bird, Mrs. Hale says "He killed that, too." This revelation is clearly more insightful than any conclusions that Hale, the sheriff, or the Count Attorney come to in the rocking chair scene or at any other time. They find evidence of emotional or mental anguish whereas the men are looking for physical clues. 

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question