For this assignment, you will be reading and analyzing the Susan
Glaspell play, Trifles. As you
read the play you will notice that its format is quite different from that of a
short story or novel. At first, reading the stage directions, characters’ names
and dialogue may feel awkward; but rest assured that, as you keep reading you
will find your rhythm and be able to follow the story with little
Please write an essay of 1000
words or more discussing the questions below. As always, begin your paper with
an engaging introduction and clear thesis statement, develop each point in the
body of your paper using examples and quotes from the play, and conclude your
paper with a restatement of your thesis and closing remarks. In addition, be
sure to maintain your credibility by including in-text citations and a
reference list correctly formatted in APA style.
What is the setting of the play, in terms of the time period, region and
weather? Explain the condition of the house. What emotional response does the
setting evoke in you?
Describe the main characters: county attorney George Henderson, sheriff Henry
Peters, neighbor Lewis Hale, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Peters. What do you also
know about John and Minnie Wright? Who in this story do you feel is/are the
protagonist(s) and who is/are the antagonist(s)?
Summarize the plot of the play in terms of its narrative arc (also known a
pyramidal pattern): exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action
and resolution/dénouement. What makes the story suspenseful?
Directions: Comment on Glaspell’s stage directions. What information do they
reveal that you would have not been able to glean from the dialogue alone?
Elaborate on the symbolic meaning of the birdcage, the dead canary, the noose
and the items referred to as “trifles.”
Remark on the main messages of this play. What is the meaning of the title, Trifles? In your opinion, what is
Glaspell saying about gender differences and marriage in this story?
Because this is a play, most of the story is told in dialogue format.
Articulate the differences between reading a drama and reading a short story.
Comment, too, on the experience of reading a drama versus watching it performed
Thoughts: Trifles is based
on a true crime story that Susan Glaspell reported on as a journalist from
1898-1901. Do some background research on the actual events (one recommended
website ishttp://www.midnightassassin.com/index.html) and
write about the increasing empathy Glaspell felt toward Margaret Hossack, the
alleged murderess, as Glaspell covered the case. Do you empathize with Hossack
and her fictional counterpart, Minnie Wright? Why or why not? What overall
impact has the play had on you?