What is a description of Minnie Foster/Wright in Trifles?

Minnie Foster/Wright in Trifles is described as a woman who has been broken down by her husband's abuse. She used to be an extroverted, glamorous woman but has now been reduced to someone who wears shabby clothes and does not clean her house properly.

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Though she is never seen in the play, Minnie Wright is the primary focus of the narrative. By the beginning of the action, the characters are exploring the now empty home of Minnie and her husband, John Wright, who has been murdered. As the house is surveyed for evidence, the characters reflect on the type of woman that Minnie was and chronicle her change over time. It is said that Minnie used to be an exceedingly vibrant woman. She enjoyed life and was generally happy, and she had many interests. However, the characters recall that after she wed John Wright, her personality and, by extension, her appearance began to decline.

Minnie was once a woman that was said to have dressed brightly and colorfully, reflecting her cheerful demeanor. However, after suffering from abuse by her tyrannical husband, she is said to have shrunk, both metaphorically and physically. Even her name, Minnie, is a reference to her powerlessness in the face of the cruel patriarchy that rules her life. She is said to have started dressing poorly, caring less and less about her appearance. Her only solace were the small interests that she could still pursue with her diminished joy and energy, such as the pet bird that her husband had killed. While the men in the house refer to these interests as "trifles," the women, who are familiar with what it means to search for an escape from patriarchal oppression, see the profound sadness and desperation in these everyday acts of escape.

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Minnie Wright is a quiet, timorous woman. But she wasn't always like that. Once upon a time she was the life and soul of the party, an outgoing woman who really enjoyed life. Then she got married, and her whole personality changed completely. Once she fell under the domestic tyranny of Mr. Wright, Minnie was transformed into a household drudge whose sole purpose in life was to serve the needs of her husband.

Nonetheless, Minnie tried to carve out a life of her own to give her something she could cling to in the midst of an abusive marriage. To that end, she collected about her what men in the neighborhood would describe, somewhat condescendingly, as "trifles," little objects that reminded her of her previous happy life.

One such trifle would be the canary that Minnie owned. She loved this little bird and cared for it deeply. But one day, an angry Mr. Wright yanked the bird out of its cage and strangled it to death. This sent Minnie into paroxysms of rage, and she meted out to her husband the same treatment that he had meted out to the bird.

In a classic example of the worm that turned, Minnie finally asserted herself, albeit in the most extreme manner possible.

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Minnie Wright never actually appears in this play, as she has been arrested and incarcerated for her husband's murder. Everything we learn about her we learn through the eyes of her friends, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, who visit her home with their husbands. The intention of these women is to collect some personal effects to drop off with Minnie at the prison. Their husbands, on the other hand, are looking for evidence of her guilt.

The women notice that there has been a change in Minnie in recent years, noting that the clothing in her closet is drab and in stark contrast to the beautiful clothing she used to wear prior to marrying her late husband.

They also deduce that Minnie's state of mind had not been that of a healthy woman. They realize this by paying attention to small "trifling" details that the men ignore. For example, bread has been left out to get stale, and a half job has been done of cleaning the table. They notice an erratically-stitched quilt—far below the usual standard of Minnie's work. This describes a woman whose life has been overcome by torment.

The discovery of the dead canary confirms to the ladies that Mrs. Wright had been in an abusive marriage. This had transformed her from being an extrovert to being an introvert and ultimately led her to her crime.

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Minnie Wright is the woman accused of murder in the play. She is never seen but she is discussed and described by the other characters as they investigate the house. Apparently, she used to be extroverted and very outgoing, but after her marriage, she became quiet and isolated from others and from the community. Even though her marriage was unhappy, she tried to stay positive through housework, quilting, and the purchase of a canary, which reminded her of her old life.

MRS. HALE: [Examining the skirt.] Wright was close. I think maybe that's why 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.
(Glaspell, Trifles, etext.virginia.edu)

The implication is that it was Mr. Wright's harsh attitudes and refusal to allow Minnie an emotional outlet that led to the murder. Minnie became more and more closed off, knowing that she was unhappy, but unable socially and personally to address her issues with her husband. Societally, she would not be seen in a positive light if she wanted a divorce, and spousal abuse was more commonly covered up at the time. Minnie was an essentially good person, but driven by circumstance to extreme action.

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