Professor Cynthia Henricks
27 July 2014
In Glaspell’s Trifles, there is an impending murder trial occurring for the death of Mr.
John Wright. He was pronounced dead with a noose around his neck in bed while his wife slept
on beside him. Mrs. Wright was found the next morning in her rocking chair by Mr. Hale, who
was there to see her husband, but when asked where Mr. Wright was, she said that he was dead
with little emotion. This seemed suspicious to him. The story begins with three men (County
Attorney, Sheriff, and neighboring farmer) and two women (sheriff’s and farmer’s wives) in the
Wright’s kitchen, going over what could have happened before, during, and after the murder.
The men take down notes of all of the possibilities of Minnie Wright committing this murder,
and move from the kitchen to upstairs to continue the investigation. While the men thought that
Mrs. Wright was just an awful housekeeper, the wives knew that there was a completely
different reason for the messy kitchen. Seeing as how the Wright’s had no children and hardly
any visitors, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters empathize with Mrs. Wright’s lonely and lackluster life.
Through Trifles, the reader can determine the solitude, barren and caged life that represented the
accused and isolated housewife.
While puttering around the kitchen putting things together for Mrs. Wright, the women search
for her quilting scissors and in the sewing box find Mrs. Wright’s only source of happiness, her
yellow canary, along with a snapped neck. The dead bird was Minnie’s only real outlet to the
real world, having no telephone and hardly any house guests. Now that it was lifeless, so was
she. Her whole married life was as dreary as cold as the weather and as lonely as her secluded
farm house. Mrs. Hale referred to it as a “lonesome place, and always was” (974). She wanted a
voice like the songs the bird sang but her husband choked them out just like the life of the bird
that he killed. The death of her bird was a very big cause for the unhappiness in her marriage. As
Mrs. Peters thought and Mrs. Hale said, “John Wright was a hard man, just to pass the time of
day with him was like a raw wind that gets to the bone” (975). Mrs. Hale, the more
compassionate of the two, moreover, the regretful biased neighbor that never came to visit, feels
the guiltiest for not seeing the unhappy wife more often. Both women suspect that the bird had
been a substitute for her lack of children and friends. Mrs. Peters’ account of her own solitude
(losing her first born at age two caused her to be severely depressed) suggests that loneliness is
an important element of the female and human condition. Mrs. Hale realized that women have all
expressed loneliness in part because they do not realize their commonality and have not learned
to unify and support one another. In the end, loneliness connects the women and brings them
closer to each other, and empathy and sympathy get lost in the mix.
Minnie and John Wright did not have children. Mrs. Hale says on page 975 that “not
having children makes less work—but it makes a quiet house.” As a source of company, Minnie
Wright buys a canary for cheap and quickly becomes the only light in her life. Since getting
married, her life becomes drastically different and it was a life that she was not used to. “Wright
wouldn’t have liked the bird—a thing that sang.” (975). As an effect, the loneliness results in an
oppression to Minnie Wright, so it represses a “burst” in herself just waiting to be unleashed. In
the play, the door to the bird cage was said to have been “violently torn off” (974), which