In Susan Glaspell's "Trifles", what are the clues to recognition and reversal?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the play Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, the reversal and recognition of the specific tragedy pertaining Minnie Wright occur during the search and investigation of her house after the presumed suicide of Minnie's husband.

Of course, the characters who experience the reversal and recognition are Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. The reversal occurs when they see the empty birdcage with the broken door, which seemed to have been forced open by a very furious person. Aside from that, they find the canary that belongs to that birdcage wrapped in silk and with a broken neck. The fact that the canary had been laid to rest in a respectful manner suggests that it was not Minnie who did the deed, but her husband.

This is the moment of reversal: Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters see the birdcage and the bird. This evidence reverses their previous thoughts about the situation. Now they are clear about what went on in that house. They no longer take the side of justice, of their husbands, nor society: They understand and, in their own way, they are willing to conceal Minnie's secret.

After reversal, comes the recognition: After putting the information together they realize that Minnie is an abused wife who apparently snapped at her husband. Now the plot comes to a full circle- The once submissive and obedient wives of a sheriff and an investigator are connected emotionally to the situation, and understand what drove Minnie to what she did. Now, they are in with Minnie, and recognizing what happened helped them understand best how bad things were for this poor wife.