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Trifles

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Trifles is a play by Susan Glaspell. The following one-act play is reprinted from Trifles. Susan Glaspell. New York: Frank Shay, 1916. It is now in the public domain and may therefore be performed without royalties. The setting for Trifles, a bleak, untidy kitchen in an abandoned rural farmhouse, quickly establishes the claustrophobic mood of the play.

The sheriff, Henry Peters, is the first to enter the farmhouse, followed by George Henderson, the attorney prosecuting the case. The men cluster around a stove to get warm while they prepare for their investigation.

Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale follow the men into the kitchen; yet, they hesitate just inside the door.

Characters Edit

The play has mainly five characters:

  • Mrs Hale
  • Sheriff
  • Mrs Peters
  • County Attorney
  • Hale

Synopsis Edit

Here is a small summary of the play from the cited sources[1][2][3][4][5][6]:

The main characters in the play by Susan Glaspell,Trifles (full analysis of play here), the Sheriff, his wife, the County Attorney and a man named Hale and his wife all enter and gather near the fire that has been laid to keep the house warm overnight. As they settle in the Sheriff questions Mr. Hale about what happened the day before the action of the play, Trifles by Susan Glaspell.

To offer a summary of Trifles by Susan Glaspell means that it is necessary to pay attention to details since they are important to the plot of the play. Mr. Hale begins by telling the Sheriff that he planned on stopping by the Wright farmhouse to see if John was interested in going in on a party telephone, but he knew that if he asked him in front of his wife his chances were better. When he got there he knocked at the door and thought he heard someone say come in and entered and saw Mrs. Wright sitting in her rocker near the door look kind of queer and done up and as if She didn't know what to do next while she was pleating her apron and rocking back and forth. She wasn't polite or impolite and seemed indifferent about her guest. Mr. Hale asks to see John Wright, her husband and she laughts and says he is dead, pointing upstairs. When he asks her what he died of, she says, a rope around his neck and continued with her strange distant behavior.

At this point in the play by Susan Glaspell, Trifles Harry and Mr. Hale go upstairs and confirm that Mr. Wright was, indeed, dead. They came back downstairs and asked Mrs. Wright how the rope got around his neck and she claims she does not know, despite the fact that it happened while she was sleeping in bed next to him. She simply said she was a sound sleeper and moves to another chair and laughed when Mr. Hale brought up the idea of a telephone again, stopping short suddenly like she was afraid, or so Mr. Hale thought. At this point in Mr. Hale's story, he makes reference to the other men who came after they were notified of Mr. Wright's death.

Held for murder and worryin' about her preserves to which Hale replies, women are used to worrying over trifles at which point the two women in the room move closer to one another as the county attorney goes around the kitchen, making comments that belittle the women in terms of how they are only concerned with tiny things that relate to their kitchen. The women do stand for her, not necessarily because they were good friends of Mrs. Wright but because they understand the nature of farm life. The county attorney continues about Mrs. Wright's apparent lack of housekeeping skills.

As this summary suggests about the play Trifles by Susan Glaspell, it becomes clear at this point that the women notice things that the men don't, for all their criticisms. They see that Mrs. Wright had bread set, for instance, an important detail that marks what she was doing before the event. They remember when she Minnie Foster and see how sad her life was, presumably because her husband was an unpleasant man. The women wonder if she did it, but Mrs. Hale says no because she was worried about trifles such as her preserves and apron and they don't seem to think that the ordinary things she was doing beforehand show any signs of anger or sudden extreme emotion. The two women are also bothered by the fact that it seems the men are sneaking around her house while she's locked up in town and do not the way they criticize her housekeeping skills, especially since she didn't have time to clean up.

Media ArticlesEdit

Some notable references on the play from news articles are:

American Awaits Sanction for Lon- don Appearance in Her Own Play.-" She is scheduled to appear in the same role which she took in the original Provincetown production of her play Trifles. " -- New York Times - Jan 22, 1932 [7]

Theater of a Two-Headed Calf Takes On Susan Glaspells Play-" Be careful how you judge Trifles, as performed by the experimental troupe Theater of a Two-Headed Calf. Trifles, written by Susan Glaspell and first performed in 1916, has become a staple of theater studies. As performed here, Trifles is poignant and, occasionally, pretentious. That mood is the most absorbing aspect of this hourlong Trifles. " -- New York Times - Feb 2, 2010 [8]

References Edit

  1. http://www.articlemyriad.com/plot-summary-trifles-susan-glaspell/
  2. http://www.gradesaver.com/trifles/study-guide/section1/
  3. http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-trifles/
  4. http://www.supersummary.com/drama/13-plot-summary-of-trifles-by-susan-glaspell
  5. http://voices.yahoo.com/summary-review-trifles-7566614.html
  6. http://voices.yahoo.com/analysis-susan-glaspells-trifles-10666617.html
  7. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0D16FB355B13738DDDAB0A94D9405B828FF1D3
  8. http://theater.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/theater/reviews/02trifles.html

External links Edit

Performances and Videos Edit

  1. ▶ Trifles by Susan Glaspell, a d'moiselles production in NYC - YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1LGwPFeSz8
  2. ▶ Trifles by Susan Glaspell - YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzPQ5tgg9qQ
  3. ▶ Trifles -- Susan Glaspell -- A Film Production - YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voPEz6BjJiI
  4. ▶ Trifles - Susan Glaspell (Audiobook) - YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3FzPHdPelQ
  5. ▶ Trifles by Susan Glaspell - YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBAMcE-sHvM

Online script links Edit

  1. http://itech.fgcu.edu/faculty/wohlpart/alra/glaspell.htm
  2. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10623
  3. http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/trifles.htm

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