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Trifles


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A: Susan Glaspell Pf: 1916, Provincetown, Mass. Pb: 1920 G: Drama in 1 act S: Kitchen of a rundown Midwest farmhouse, c.1916 C: 3m, 2fA farmer has been discovered strangled, and the sheriff and his men are investigating the case. The sheriff's wife Mrs Peters and a female neighbour Mrs Hale go through the household trifles in the kitchen and note the untidy room, uneven stitching in a quilt, a dead canary carefully laid in ‘a pretty box’, etc. They piece together enough evidence to convict the farmer's widow of the murder. However, in reconstructing the crime, the two women reflect on the life of abuse that the farmer's wife had to endure and agree that the poor woman was pushed beyond reasonable limits. Feeling guilty that they did nothing to help her, they agree to conceal the evidence, while the sheriff and his men vindicate their deception by dismissing their efforts as ‘worrying over trifles’.

A: Susan Glaspell Pf: 1916, Provincetown, Mass. Pb: 1920 G: Drama in 1 act S: Kitchen of a rundown Midwest farmhouse, c.1916 C: 3m, 2f

Co-founder of the Provincetown Players in 1915, Glaspell, who acted the role of Mrs Hale at the premiere, is at last receiving the recognition which is her due. Trifles is her most popular play, providing small casts with a piece that is well constructed and full of suspense. It also contains a progressive message about the failure of men to understand the significance of the domestic environment for women.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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