The title of Susan Glaspell's play, Trifles , is a meaningful clue to the reason that the men do not find the evidence of Mrs. Wright's having killed her husband. For, it is the small, apparently meaningless things that the women discover. And, having discovered these items, along with...
The title of Susan Glaspell's play, Trifles, is a meaningful clue to the reason that the men do not find the evidence of Mrs. Wright's having killed her husband. For, it is the small, apparently meaningless things that the women discover. And, having discovered these items, along with their women's intuitions, they are also able to realize the significance of these "trifles" and connect "the missing pieces."
Trifles is a murder mystery play that has as a motif the gender divide. One of the men's ironic remark, "Well, women are used to worrying over trifles,’’ is central to the difference in the approach to finding evidence that the men and the women take. For instance, when the County Attorney, Sheriff and Mrs. Peters, and Mr. and Mrs. Hale arrive, the County Attorney asks Farmer Hale what has transpired. Mr. Hale explains that he found Mrs. Wright sitting in the kitchen; he also mentions that she moved from one chair to another. Yet, the sheriff is convinced that nothing important was in the kitchen. Perfunctorily, the County Attorney does look around the kitchen, opening a door of cupboard closet, inspecting a shelf. But, although he makes a comment about the broken fruit jars, he dismisses the kitchen as unimportant. In fact, he is patronizing to the women as he tells Mrs. Hale, who excuses Mrs. Wright's dirty kitchen by saying there is much to do on a farm,
COUNTY ATTORNEY (with a little bow to her)
"Ah, loyal to your sex, I see...."
After the men go upstairs to look around, the women inspect the kitchen: Mrs. Peter goes to a small table, Mrs. Hale eyes a loaf of bread that is outside the bread box. They talk about the murder method, how odd it is that Mr. Wright was strangled when there was a gun in the house. Then, Mrs. Hale notices that one half of the table is clean and the is not as if Mrs. Wright stopped for some reason. Further small things are noted by the women: Mrs. Wright has been making a quilt and the stitching is odd in places; Mrs. Hale wonders why she was nervous. Then, they find a birdcage which has a hinge pulled apart. After this discovery, the women make another important discovery in the sewing basket--there is a bird wrapped in silk, its neck wrung. When they hear the men coming down the stairs, they hide the bird under the quilt pieces.
After the men leave, Mrs. Peters says meaningfully,
"My, it's a good thing the men couldn't hear us. wouldn't they just laugh. Getting all stirred up over a little thing like a --dead canary. As if that could have anything to do with--with--wouldn't they laugh!
It is the women who understand the loneliness of Mrs. Wright, her anger, grief and highly charged reaction at losing the songbird, the single thing that brings her any joy, a "trifle" that men would miss.