In the play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, there are five characters, three men and two women. They are in a house where the murder of Mr. Wright took place the day before. The men are trying to find evidence to name a killer or motivation to name Mrs. Wright as the murderer. While the men are downstairs, the women occupy themselves with looking around the kitchen and living room. They take note of Mrs. Wright’s canned fruit and the fact that it has busted in the cold weather. The men laugh at them for “worrying over trifles”. The men go upstairs to look at the murder site and leave the women downstairs.
The women find a quilt that Mrs. Wright was making in her famous “log cabin” pattern. As the men come downstairs, they hear the women discussing whether they thought Mrs. Wright was “goin’ to quilt it or just knot it”. Again the men laugh at the women for worrying about such small details. The men go outside to the barn. While they are gone, the women notice that the stitching on the square Mrs. Wright was working on looks “as if she didn’t know what she was about”. They take note that the other squares are straight and neat. They wonder out loud what she was nervous about to make such a mess of her sewing.
The ladies then notice a bird cage. They notice that the door to the bird cage is off one hinge, as if the door was ripped open. When the ladies start to gather the things Mrs. Wright has requested they bring to her, they grab her sewing basket to take to her. When they open it up though, they find the canary dead. It’s neck wrung and hanging to one side.
They spectate that after so many years of loneliness, and then having a bird to sing to her and keep her company, if someone killed it, it would make them pretty mad, too. They connect all the things they noticed while the men were looking for evidence and come to an unspoken agreement that they believe Mrs. Wright did it and her motivation was that Mr. Wright killed her songbird, the only thing she had to keep her company. In the end, the women seem to understand why Mrs. Wright killed her husband and they hide the evidence from the men.
The plot of this play begins as the men and women walk into the house and ends as the men decide they haven’t found any evidence and the women choose not to tell. The story could be considered as having began the day prior when Mr. Wright was killed or many years before that when Mrs. Wright married him and changed so much. “Trifles” has a climactic structure as is evidenced by restricted characters, locale, and scenes as well as a plot that starts very late in the story.
“Trifles” is different from many other plays in the fact that the main character of the play, is never actually seen. Mrs. Minnie Wright is the main character. The play is about her life, her struggle, and her crime.
In this play, the antagonist could either be Mr. Wright or the men in the play. Mr. Wright could be considered the antagonist because he kept Minnie Wright from being herself. He’s the one that caged her up, stripped away her happiness, and drove her to committing such a horrible crime. The men could also be considered the antagonists, though. They spend the entire play trying to find something to prove that Mrs. Wright killed her husband. They don’t stop to see how she must have felt, they just want to convict her.
Before the plot of the play begins, Mr. Wright was killed in his bed, while sleeping. A rope was wrapped around his neck and he was strangled. Mr. Hale had gone to visit him and Mrs. Hale said he was dead. She seemed a nervous wreck so they put her in an institution. The play begins when the characters walk through the door the next day to look for evidence of the murder.
The initiating incident could either be the murder of Mr. Wright before the play begins or when the women find the quilt square that is uneven and looks as though it’s been stitched by someone that wasn’t in a good state of mind.
The main conflict of the play is the moral dilemma the women encounter. They come to an unspoken agreement that Mrs. Wright did in fact kill her husband. They understand why she did it, though and the main conflict is their inner struggles between doing what is considered “right” by telling the men, or protecting their fellow woman in her secret.
The climax of the story is when the women find the canary with the snapped neck in the sewing box. At that point, they really piece together the puzzle and can see how and why Mrs. Wright killed her husband.
Denouncement and Resolution
At the end of the play, the women hide the bird, and don’t tell the men of the evidence. They decide that it’s better just to let Mrs. Wright live her life considered an innocent. It almost feels like they think she has hope of a much better future without him.