In Susan Glaspell's play Trifles, Minnie Wright is guilty of murdering her abusive husband John by tying a rope around his neck and strangling him in his sleep. While Sheriff Henry Peters, George Henderson, and Lewis Hale conduct an investigation of the Wright household and farm in order to discover evidence of Minnie's motive to kill her husband, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters begin to notice small clues, which illustrate Minnie's difficult, abusive home life. When the men leave the kitchen, the women take note of Minnie's erratic stitching, her uncleanly countertop, a broken birdcage, and the lifelessly canary neatly wrapped inside her sewing box.
The ladies sympathize with Minnie Wright, and Mrs. Hale remembers how she used to dress lively and exude energy before she married John. It becomes evident that John was an oppressive influence over her life and was an abusive husband, who killed Minnie's prized canary. After killing Minnie's canary, she could no longer endure his abuse and proceeded to murder him. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters empathize with Minnie's difficult situation and purposely hide evidence of her motive from the men.
While one could certainly agree that John deserved to be punished for abusing his wife, murder is never justified. The fact that Minnie intentionally planned and executed her husband's murder means that she is guilty of the crime and should be punished. However, one could also make the argument that her abuse left her mentally unstable, which would affect her sentencing. Overall, one could argue that Minnie's serious crime was not justified because taking another person's life is only excused when acting in self-defense.