Susan Glaspell’S Play Trifles

In Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles, she lays out the story of an investigation into the death of a man named John Wright, strangled to death in bed possibly by his wife. During the investigation of his house, the sheriff’s wife and friend discover a dead canary with its neck wrung, hidden away in a box. The women speculate over the significance of the dead bird, and seem to believe that John Wright may have killed it, spurring his wife to kill him.

    The women discuss how John Wright’s wife didn’t have any children, and how she would have liked the birds singing, but her husband wouldn’t have. Mrs. Peters also reminisces about a boy who killed her kitten when she was a child, and implies that she was angry enough to kill him at the time, suggesting that she sympathizes with the feelings that may have driven John Wright’s wife to kill him. She says, “: If there’d been years and years of nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful—still, after the bird was still” (Glaspell, 1916). The dead bird symbolizes that he destroyed the last little thing that may have been keeping Mrs. Wright sane.

    We also read that the kitchen was very disorganized, with the scene being set as “… the now abandoned farmhouse of John Wright, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order—unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the breadbox, a dish towel on the table—other signs of incompleted work”(Glaspell, 1916) and the men investigating comment disparagingly about what a bad housekeeper John Wright’s wife was. The disorganization symbolizes the chaos and unrest that Mrs. Wright was feeling, which eventually drove her to kill her husband.

    Another symbol of her unhappy and frenzied mental state is seen in the quilting she had been working on, which is perfectly sewn and gradually deteriorates towards the most recent work. Mrs. Hale comments, “All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It’s all over the place!...