Who killed John Wright in Trifles?  

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The women piece together what happened by looking at the trifles in the kitchen that the male police officers disparage. They know that Minnie Wright killed her husband John Wright.

First, they realize from the messy and disorganized state of her kitchen that she must have been distraught. Then they find the damaged canary cage. It looks like someone wrenched off the door in a fit of rage. Not long after, they find the canary itself, carefully wrapped up with its neck broken. They realize that John must have killed the bird.

Mrs. Hale recalls what a bright, lively person Minnie once was, much like a canary. She also realizes that she should have visited Minnie more. The woman must have been lonely on the farm with no children and a harsh, uncommunicative husband. However, Mrs. Hale didn't like to visit because it was so depressing to do so.

Mrs. Peters remembers how upset she was as a child when a boy hacked her kitten to death with an axe. She understands the murderous rage that Minnie must have felt as she watched her innocent bird get killed.

The two women realized that Minnie must have snapped after years of abuse and killed her husband after he murdered her beloved bird. Because they sympathize with her and feel it was a justifiable homicide, they don't reveal what they know.

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In Susan Glaspell's one-act play, John Wright is discovered dead with a rope around his neck. His wife claims that he must have been strangled while she was asleep and that the murderer has escaped. The murderer is never caught and, legally, that is they end of the matter.

The county attorney, Mr. Hale, and the sheriff, Mr. Peters, search the Wright house and find no evidence. However, their wives come with them and discover a dead canary, which has evidently been strangled. They realize that Mr. Wright must have been abusing his wife and that she has strangled him just as he strangled the canary. However, they keep quiet out of sympathy for Mrs. Wright and allow her to get away with her husband's murder.

Although it will never be proved in court and she will escape punishment for the murder (viewed by the women in the play as justifiable homicide), Mrs. Wright clearly killed her husband. Fortunately for her, the only evidence lay in easily-overlooked trifles.

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In Triflesit was Minnie Wright who killed John Wright. In the play, Mr. Hale describes how Minnie acted the day he discovered that John was dead.

According to Mr. Hale, Minnie seemed agitated when he questioned her about John. Mr. Hale related that, when he entered the Wright residence, Minnie was rocking back and forth on her chair. She had her apron in her lap and appeared to be pleating it. Minnie was in an odd mood; she was nervous and obviously troubled about something.

When Mr. Hale mentioned the cold weather, Minnie barely acknowledged him. She indulged in no pleasantries whatsoever and refused to look at Mr. Hale. When Mr. Hale asked to see John, Minnie gave a strange little laugh. Since she gave no real answer, Mr. Hale was forced to ask again. After much prodding on Mr. Hale's part, Minnie finally admitted that John was dead.

She pointed upstairs and revealed that John died "of a rope round his neck." Mr. Hale then went upstairs to investigate. After finding John dead, he went back downstairs to ask whether anyone had been notified of John's death. Mr. Hale relates that Minnie answered in the negative and appeared to be unconcerned. When Mr. Hale asked who was responsible for John's death, Minnie maintained that she didn't know. She mentioned that she was a sound sleeper.

Minnie's odd behavior, detached answers, and nervous laughter show that she was obviously in shock. It is plain from her emotional angst and the women's conversation about the dead canary that Minnie was responsible for John's death. 




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It is clear in this excellent play that the person who killed John Wright was actually Minnie Wright, his long suffering wife who had changed so much through her marriage to her husband and the cold, stern disposition that he had. Of course, the intense irony of the play is that the men are self-importantly wandering around trying to find a motive to incriminate Minnie Wright, but it is the women, who are mercilessly mocked and patronised for their focusing on "trifles" that actually find the missing clue that allows them to piece together a motive that indicates it was Minnie Wright that killed her husband.

They find a dead, strangled canary, that obviously belonged to Minnie Wright. Of course, John Wright himself was strangled, and note what Mrs Hale says to Mrs Wright regarding it:

If there'd been years and years of nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful--still after the bird was still.

This helps us to see that having experienced mental, psychological and physical overshadowing from her husband, and then having her canary strangled in front of her eyes, Minnie Wright would have lashed out in a fit of desperation, strangling her husband in his sleep. The women ironically solve the crime that the men are unable to do, but they choose to hide the missing bit of evidence from them in case that leads them to blame Minnie Wright.

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