What is the overall irony in the play Trifles?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"It is, of course, a trifle, but there is nothing so important as trifles," said Sherlock Holmes in "The Man with the Twisted Lip" and again in the "Boscombe Valley Mystery": "You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles."

Sherlock Holmes insisted that the most important clues always appear trifling, but one does not have to be the world's greatest detective to reach this conclusion. Obviously, clues seem like trifles, or criminals would never leave them behind. The overall irony in Susan Glaspell's play, therefore, is well expressed by its one-word title. The county attorney and the sheriff are professional lawmen but they do not know their business well enough to search for or appreciate the importance of trifles. The two women are the ones who resemble Sherlock Holmes, using imagination, intelligence, and the observation of trifles to reconstruct the murder of John Wright while the male characters fail to understand their methods.

There is another level of irony,...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 671 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team