What are the main dramatic elements that are used in Trifles?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main dramatic elements that we can find in Trifles are:

  • Pacing

As an act in one play, the beginning, middle and end must be evident within a short period of time. For this reason, we see that (rather than starting with a prolonged introduction) the play starts right at the beginning of the investigation of the murder, and continues on with the finding of cues, all leading toward the final find.

  • Tension

The tension is palpable all over Trifles. There is the tension of the crime committed. There is tension from the women on what will be the fate of Mrs. Wright. The women are also tense around the men, who clearly do not understand what has just happened. There is overall tension because this is a big case being tried in the middle of a long, cold winter. The natural elements are not helping, and the remoteness of the area does not help either. It is an uncomfortable setting.

  • Focus

Believable, everyday characters are the ones who drive the plot forward and make the play also believable. There is one storyline, which is the finding of the cues for Minnie's case.

  • Symbol

Lots of symbols are represented in all the "trifles" around the house, such as the frozen compote, the canary cage, the state of the house, and the state of the stitching of Minnie Wright. All of these are symbols of a traumatized mind that is about to lose control.

  • Conflict and Climax

The conflict of the play is clearly the different treatment that males and females get in a male-dominated society. This conflict permeates even the crime that Minnie Wright commits, as she is a victim of domestic violence.

The climax is the moment in the play when the tension cannot get any more intense. This would be the finding of the canary with the broken neck. This is how the women finally realize that what made Minnie snap was that her husband killed the only thing that she loved that loved her back: her canary.