What is the meaning of the title Trifles?

The title of Trifles refers to the small clues that the men in the play fail to notice or dismiss as insignificant but that the women are able to use to reconstruct the crime. The sheriff, county attorney, and Mr. Hale all dismiss vital clues that would help them understand the events leading up to the crime and, ultimately, incriminate their suspect, waving them off as unimportant and silly. The title serves as an ironic twist to this patronizing attitude.

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When Mrs. Peters remarks to Mrs. Hale that the preserved fruit has frozen in the jars in Minnie Wright's kitchen, the men are condescending in their attitude and Mr. Hale observes that "women are used to worrying over trifles." While the men are searching the house for clues and finding none, the two women are able to make enough deductions from the "trifles" they discover to reconstruct the crime.

The word trifles, therefore, refers to the small but vital matters to which the women are astute enough to pay attention and the men are arrogant enough to ignore. It is rather difficult to see what the men imagine they are seeking, since clues are, by definition, usually trifling. If a criminal were to create a very large and obvious clue, they would presumably notice and remove it. The matters that are easily overlooked are those from which the crime is pieced together.

This point is noted by no less an authority than Sherlock Holmes, who mentions the importance of trifles several times, telling Watson in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" that his whole method is founded on the observation of trifles. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are therefore associated in this story with the greatest detective in fiction, while the sheriff and his friends play the role of Inspector Lestrade and the Scotland Yard bunglers, who often overlook vital evidence.

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What is the meaning of the title Trifles by Glaspell?

Sherlock Holmes remarked several times that his method was founded upon the observation of trifles, from which he was able to deduce matters of great importance. This is a convincing description of how a detective works, since clues are necessarily things that appear trifling. If they were not, the criminal would notice and eliminate them. In Glaspell's play, the women consistently notice details which the men fail to discern or which they dismiss as trifles. Even when the men do notice an important clue, as when the County Attorney remarks upon the empty birdcage, they completely fail to register its importance.

The title also refers to Wright's cruel treatment of his wife which Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters deduce from the details they notice. They are able to sympathize with Mrs. Wright and understand what her state of mind must have been. Strangling a bird or stopping one's wife from singing are small matters so far as the law is concerned, certainly in comparison with the murder of a man. Mrs. Wright would have had no defense if the matter came to trial.

The women, however, appreciate from their own experience just how great an effect such trifles can have. Mrs. Peters still finds it too painful to talk about how a boy hurt her kitten with a hatchet decades ago when she was a child. In understanding personal relationships and human emotions, as well as in deducing physical facts, apparent trifles are of the first importance throughout the play.

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What is the meaning of the title Trifles by Glaspell?

The title Trifles refers to both the clues the women use to solve the case and the things the men miss...

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because they see them as womanly.

The word trifle refers to something "of little value or importance." In the play, the Sheriff Henry Peters, attorney George Henderson, and Lewis Gale go to the home of a married couple, the Wrights, to investigate the death of John Wright. His wife, Minnie, is locked up for his murder.

Because the men dismiss things that they see as feminine—like a sewing box, for example—they aren't able to solve the murder. They even decide to skip doing a thorough search of the kitchen because they don't see how a place with kitchen things could be relevant. When Mrs. Peters sees the preserves that Minnie Wright asked her to check on, Hale says they're just trifles and none of the men see them as relevant to the investigation. Instead, they're amused that she is concerned. Glaspell writes:

MRS PETERS: (to the other woman) Oh, her fruit; it did freeze, (to the LAWYER) She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the fire'd go out and her jars would break.

SHERIFF: Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves.

COUNTY ATTORNEY: I guess before we're through she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about.

HALE: Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

The women, on the other hand, notice all the minor clues that the men miss. The state of her clothing, a messy table, and a broken birdcage all paint a picture that reveals to the women that Minnie killed her husband. The trifles the men dismiss reveal the truth, but they aren't willing to consider that evidence. In the end, though, the women decide to hide the evidence from their husbands and the attorney. 

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What is the meaning of the title Trifles by Glaspell?

Trifles or insignificant acts with little or no real meaning is exactly the opposite of what goes on in the play "Trifles."   The author makes a statement about the treatment of women in society.

‘‘Glaspell intended to show that women in the domestic sphere were vulnerable to the brutality of men like John Wright, but she also dramatizes the powerful sense of solidarity women shared and assumes that this solidarity was somehow responsible for superior female morality.’’

The world of women is reduced to the activities of the farmhouse which are trifles or insignificant in the world of men.  The plot revolves around the acute awareness of the women in this play who are much smarter than the men who fail to notice clues that the women pick up because the men don't pay attention to the activities of housework or women's work, they are trifles, not important.

"In simple terms, Trifles suggests that men tend to be aggressive, brash, rough, analytical and self-centered; in contrast, women are more circumspect, deliberative, intuitive, and sensitive to the needs of others. It is these differences that allows Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale to find the clues needed to solve the crime, while their husbands miss the same clues."

The title draws attention to women's issues, suggesting that all issues relating to women in this period, 1916, were considered trifles.  Women fought for decades to secure the right to vote, which did not come until 1920. 

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What is the meaning of the title of the play Trifles by Susan Glaspell?

Written by Susan Glaspell, Trifles was based on an actual murder.  In Iowa, a wife killed her husband with an axe.  The wife argued that she thought he was an intruder.  She was convicted; but, in appeal, her sentence was overturned.  Glaspell, as a reporter, covered the story.  Along with the jury, she went to the scene of the crime, particularly the kitchen. She based her play on this experience. This is an example of an early feminist drama because of the sympathy implied toward the wife of the murder victim. 

The setting of the play is the home of the couple involved in a murder. The kitchen of the home is the primary place of the action of the play. The husband was found dead in his bed with a noose around his neck. He had been choked to death.  The wife says that she was asleep and did not know anything about the murder. The two ladies involved in the majority of the dialogue are the wives of the sheriff and a neighbor’s wife. 

Their men’s minds are clouded by prejudice against women; consequently, they disregard important clues as being mere "trifles" with which women concern themselves. The men tromp around the house without really looking at the scene. They immediately jump to conclusions with no examination of the actual setting or scene. One important line, spoken by the sheriff, says of the kitchen "Nothing here but kitchen things." That included the women who were cleaning and talking in the kitchen. 

The important part of the drama begins when the ladies are in the kitchen trying to clean it for Minnie, the wife. She would have wanted it nice if there were going to be a lot of people walking around in it.  They discuss the relationship between the couple, knowing that the husband was a hard man with little empathy for his wife.  In addition, the couple had no children.  Both women wonder how it would be in the kitchen without the sounds of children.

The women are able to sympathize with the wife.  As they look around the room, one of the ladies discovers a box with a canary wrapped in a cloth with its neck wrung.  The wife loved the bird and its singing.  Minnie at one time sang. The husband had taken the song out of her. Obviously, the canary symbolizes the wife who like the bird lived in a cage.

The women realize that the man was murdered in the same way that the bird had been killed. The husband had killed the one thing that brought joy to the wife; she returned the favor by breaking his neck. The women hide the bird knowing that this might prove that the wife was guilty. 

County Attorney: I guess before we’re through she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about.

Hale:  Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

County Attorney: And yet what would we do without the ladies? Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?

Mrs. Hale: There’s a great deal of work on the farm.

The play’s title refers to the trivialities that the men think that the women concern themselves with as they work in the kitchen.  Despite the fact that they have probably solved the murder, the men feel that what the women concern themselves with are just little insignificant things. 

The two women, having pieced together the murder, faced the moral dilemma of telling the men about the motive or protecting Minnie, whom they now see as a victim. Their choice raises questions about solidarity among women, the meaning of justice, and the role of women in society as a source of justice.

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