Trifles Topics for Further Study
by Susan Glaspell

Trifles book cover
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Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Read John Millington Synge’s famous one-act play Riders to the Sea and compare it to Glaspell’s Trifles. How does each play employ symbolism and local color? How is the one-act format important to each work?

One of the most important characters in Trifles is Mrs. Wright, yet she never appears on the stage. Why did Glaspell leave her out of the play? How does her absence impact Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters? Discuss the ways the play would be different if Mrs. Wright was present.

Research the lives of women in rural American communities at the turn of the century. What were typical tasks assigned to women? How did the requirements of frontier life determine the role women played in the family? Explore how the frontier experience affected the decisions made by Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale in the play.

Trifles contains several important symbols. In literature, a symbol is something that represents something else, and is often used to communicate deeper levels of meaning. What are some of the important symbols in Trifles? How does Glaspell use these symbols to propel the plot, and convey deeper levels of meaning about her characters or themes??