In Susan Glaspell's Trifles, what kind of person was Minnie Foster before she married?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A murder has been committed at the John Wright home! That is the subject of the one act play by Susan Glaspell.  Trifles was based on an actual murder in which the wife killed her abusive husband.  Glaspell, early in her career, worked as a reporter and covered this particular crime.

Mr. Hale visits the Wright home to find out if the Wrights would like to share a telephone party line with his family.  When he arrived at the home, Mr. Hale found Minnie sitting in her rocking chair in a dazed state. She told Hale that her husband was dead and pointed upstairs.  Mr. Hale asked her what he died from...Minnie answered: He died from a rop round his neck," says she, and just went on peatin'at her apron. 

Mrs. Hale, the neighbor, and Mrs. Peters, the sheriff wife, have come to gather items to take to Minnie to make her more comfortable as she sits in jail.  Mrs. Hale remembers Minnie when she was young. Mrs. Peters did not grow up in the town.  

The women begin to look around for things to take to Minnie, and Mrs. Hale discovers that Minnie's clothes are shabby and old. Remembering when she was young, she tells Mrs. Peters:

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.

Later, after the women discover the empty bird cage and the dead bird, they begin to piece together the scenario of what happened the night that John Wright was killed.  After a brief discussion with the county attorney in which they did not share what they have discovered, the ladies sit and ponder both their own situations and Minnie's as well.

Mrs. Hale recalls another memory of Minnie as a young girl.  She compares Minnie to a bird--pretty and kind.  She was shy and elusive.  Thinking of Minnie today, Mrs. Hale comments on how much Minnie had changed since she had married John Wright.

After learning that both of the women have had problems themselves in their marriages, it becomes apparent that the men have not taken them seriously in their reasoning and deductive powers. 

Mrs. Hale gives one more description of Minnie. Once she had a white dress with blue ribbons on it. She sang in the choir and had a good singing voice.  It is at that moment that the women decide to not share any of the information that they had garnered as they searched the downstairs areas. 

Most of the women's detective work was haphazard; however, their discoveries were probably as close to the actual events without Minnie actually telling them what happened.

The men were concerned with the rope and its location.  They never bothered to check about anything concerning the motive or even if the women found anything of value to the case.  The chauvinsitic men believe that women are only capable of handling the daily chores of the kitchen. 

The women, on the other hand, solved the mystery by logic and the evidence they found.