What is the voice of the play Trifles?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

 In Susan Glaspell's one-act play Trifles the use of voice as a literature and stylistic device is quite interesting. This is because the role of the main character does not follow the traditional canons of theatrical representations.

Traditionally, the main character is at the center of the plot, affecting or becoming affected by the myriad of circumstances that surround the main idea. In the case of Trifles, the main character is Minnie Wright, but she is unable to speak on her own behalf because she is detained as a suspect of the murder of her husband, John.

Therefore, Glaspell uses Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters as the mouthpieces that would voice the reality of Minnie Wright's life; they will use their instinct, their own experiences as females, and their knowledge of the roles of farm wives, to determine exactly what went on in the Wright household the night of John's murder.

However, it is a fact that Minnie's voice is basically heard throughout the conversation of the two women, especially in the way that they piece together the manner in which Minnie's psyche unravels so wildly after she marries John. It is almost as if Minnie had declared to the women how her life had changed for the worse. It is Mrs. Hale who seems to carry the voice of mercy toward Minnie.

I wish you'd seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang. [...]Oh, I wishI'd come over here once in a while! That was a crime! That was a crime! Who's going to punish that?

We later find Mrs. Hale again pleading quietly for the fair treatment of Minnie. She can sense that Minnie is a silent victim. It is Mrs. Hale's voice that basically cries out for justice.

I might have known she needed help! I know how things can be -- for women. I tell you, it's queer, Mrs. Peters. We live close together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things -- it's all just a different kind of the same thing.

Hence, Minnie's voice as a main character can be heard clearly through the intervention of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. Their experiences as women and wives are what lead them to understand the situation taking place at the Wright household, and it is also what allows them to speak for justice on Minnie's behalf.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial