Trifles, by Susan Glaspell is a well-known play throughout the English community. It is a suspenseful murder mystery that pulls citizens of a town together to try and seek justice after a homicide has occurred. This play begins with the audience learning that John Wright, a humble farmer, has been killed while he was asleep. His wife, Minnie Wright, has a very strange way of handling this grief and becomes the main suspect. During this play five characters, two women and three men, search the Wright home for clues, evidence, and a possible motive for the murder.
It ends with the women finding a shocking discovery that they choose to hide from the men. Once the women choose the secrecy of this item, their true loyalty shows and the readers begin to wonder about the main conflict of this play. The central conflict of the play, Trifles, is whether or not Minnie killed her husband John, and if she is guilty of committing the murder then the question arises of if the murder can be justified because of the way she was forced to live. One of the main reasons the audience makes the assumption that Minnie is the murderer is the way she reacts to her husband’s death.
The morning after it happened, Mr. Hale came to their house and began asking questions, which Mrs. Wright responded to with simple answers acting as if it was not a big deal. She is very mysterious and quiet about the details of the night, saying that she was asleep when Mr. Wright was killed (1368). She also tells Mr. Hale that no one has been notified yet about the death, which is another red flag that supports the Mrs. Wright is the murderer theory. Another red flag that points to Minnie as the killer is the dead canary the women found, while searching the house for evidence.
The dead bird had been strangled to death, almost the same way Mr. Wright had died and then hidden in a box. Mrs. Peters finds the bird in a pretty box and she thinks he was put there to be buried in it, but some may assume Mrs. Wright killed the canary and hid it in the box and that proves she is capable of killing her husband. Even though the situation with the bird is very suspicious and deserves a great explanation, the two women choose not to tell their husbands about this find, which could have potential to be very important evidence against Minnie.
This secret they have accepted as their own shows that they slightly believe in Minnie’s innocence. Otherwise, the women would have told the men about the bird as soon as they came downstairs. The women hiding the bird from the sheriff and two other men is not the only evidence supporting that Mrs. Wright is not the killer. The fact that the five characters sent to search the Wright home did not come up with any clues, evidence, or show of a motive is very positive when thinking in terms of proving Minnie to be innocent.
Another observation that can persuade the audience to be on Minnie’s side is the way the play portrays how she was forced to live. When the five characters begin to look around the house, they immediately start pointing out stuff that is wrong or needs attending too, stuff that should be getting cooked, and mistakes in the home that are mainly Minnie’s fault. Anyone who was forced to go from a full of life and free young woman to a submissive and quiet farmer’s wife can easily get sympathy from others. Although Minnie could easily get sympathy that does not necessarily mean the murder can be justified, if she is the killer.
Her life was very stressful as a farmer’s wife. Minnie did all the cooking, cleaning, and duties any other woman would do except she lived on a farm, which is a much bigger and messier area for these jobs. Minnie also did not have very many friends or any children to help her through tough times and keep joy in her life. Many readers sympathize with this woman because of what she used to be. Minnie Foster was cheerful in her youth, she wore colorful clothing and even sang in the choir, but after she married John Wright those attributes diminished (Trifles).
Mrs. Hale describes Mrs. Wright’s personality as being kind of like a bird herself, being pretty and sweet but also shy and fluttery (1372). Based on the way Minnie was in the past and the hardships of the life she had, many readers think the murder can be justified, if she is the killer. As the protagonist of this play, Minnie Wright must try and get the audience and readers to believe that she did not kill her husband, and if she did kill him, she must then try to show them there was a very good reason for Mr. Wright’s death.
The antagonists throughout the play are the five characters searching the Wright home, until the ending when the two women hide possible evidence from the men. Once the women choose this secrecy they join in thinking that Minnie may be innocent, or at least begin understanding why she did it and thinking that it was alright to kill the husband in order to get out of this life. The main conflict the characters of the play, Trifles, go through is trying to decide if Minnie Wright is the murderer who killed John Wright. Throughout this play there are statements that make her seem innocent and others that make her seem guilty.
Even with the evidence that makes Minnie look like the killer, the audience feels a sense of compassion with her as they find out more details about the way she lived life. Another problem the reader might come across is that the play leaves the audience hanging about who the official killer was. People want closure and this play does not give that to them. It leaves people wondering if Minnie really did kill her husband and how someone could do such a thing to the man they love. The cliff hanger also leaves people thinking about if the murder can be justified and if the characters will ever begin to understand why John Wright was killed.