The Play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell

Target Audience: Adults of all genders, ages, and ethnicities concerned with the compromised position of women in society.

Purpose: To use the examples from Glaspell’s Trifles to demonstrate that sex discrimination and family violence are harmful to both men and women and evaluate the play to recommend it to readers.


Today, family abuse is a severe problem affecting numerous people throughout the world. Women from developed nations face the problem, meaning that the population of developing countries suffers from the issue even more significantly. That is why there emerged many non-profit organizations that aim to reduce the prevalence of the problem, while various human rights advocates raise public discussion about the topic. Women are said to suffer more significantly from the problem because they are typical victims, while men are abusers. However, this one-sided approach to the issue significantly limits its scope. No one can deny the fact that many women suffer from discrimination and domestic violence, but it is not necessary to ignore the fact that the issue also brings adverse outcomes to abusing men. Susan Glaspell’s Trifles provides an appropriate example of this statement, and the evaluation of this play will focus on how well the author describes the problem of sex discrimination and family abuse.

Play Summary

In the beginning, it is reasonable to summarize and evaluate the play to ensure that all the readers of this review are on the subject. Thus, John Wright was found killed in his house, and his wife, Mrs. Wright, was the main suspect (Glaspell 1). This fact is an effective hook that makes readers interested in the plot. In an attempt to solve the case and find any proof, the County Attorney, Sheriff, and a neighboring farmer gathered to investigate the house. The three men were accompanied by their wives, and the latter managed to solve the case. Readers should understand that fact was introduced to indicate that women were superior to men because females were forced to follow their husbands everywhere. In particular, the three women found a dead canary and understood that Mrs. Wright killed her husband because he murdered her favorite bird (Glaspell 8). That discovery shocked the women, but they decided to hide evidence from their husbands. As a result, the men left the house without finding any proof to claim that Mrs. Wright was the killer. This plot seems both elementary and exciting because the author manages to present the tragic story in a single scene.

Meeting Feminism Audience

This play is attractive for those individuals who are concerned with the feminism problem in society even though it was written in the early 20th century. Gender discrimination refers to the fact that women are considered inferior to men, meaning that numerous feminists have emerged to combat this state of affairs. Readers can identify historic gender roles that represent the ground of this belief because men were aggressive and independent breadwinners, while females “females were domestic caretakers; they were passive and dependent” (Doley 41). It is impossible to deny the fact that the situation has experienced some improvements, especially in developed nations, since many women are currently successful entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers. However, numerous females still keep experiencing prejudiced attitudes from men, and the former individuals manage to identify themselves with Glaspell’s characters. Thus, a play’s positive aspect is that it addresses a sensitive topic and does it comprehensively. As Roen et al. mentioned, it is reasonable to define clear and specific evaluation criteria (277). The current writing piece considers how effectively the author has managed to convey the feelings of discriminated women.

Different examples demonstrate why the play is appealing to modern women who suffer from discrimination. Glaspell successfully managed to reflect precisely what current victims of the issue feel and think. Firstly, Mrs. Wright and her husband did not have children, while Mr. Wright was not interested in his wife’s life (Glaspell 8). This description is appropriately used to depict loneliness in the home, which is familiar for many women. Secondly, Mr. Wright did not understand his wife, denoting he could not imagine that a simple bird was significant to Mrs. Wright. Finally, the woman was not provided with complete freedom, which adversely affected her (Glaspell 8). It is possible to associate the character of Mrs. Wright with a canary that is held in a cage. This information denotes that the author understood the feelings of discriminated women and managed to depict them in a way that is clear to the modern audience. Consequently, Glaspell efficiently and comprehensively described the problem of discrimination and loneliness in families.

In addition to that, the role of the kitchen in the play was significant, and Glaspell relied on it to present a compromised position of women in society. In particular, women are forced to spend more time in their kitchens, and the author knows it. The writer also demonstrates that most men consider this place trivial, but it can present important meanings. In the play, the kitchen is the location that has all the information to solve the case, but the County Attorney, Sheriff, and a neighboring farmer ignore it (Jawad 25). Glaspell introduces this detail to remind the audience of the fact that women are often underestimated and neglected in families. This description allows the author to demonstrate that females require and deserve more attention. There is no doubt that the given artistic detail is appealing because it demonstrates that the author is rather skillful in introducing symbols that affect specific populations.

Men also represent a significant portion of Trifles’ audience because males can associate themselves with Mr. Wright. However, this character is an example of a bad relationship with women. As has been mentioned above, this man is ignorant and aggressive. He does not take care of his wife and even fails to understand her emotions and thoughts (Glaspell 7). That is why he made a mistake that resulted in his death. Modern men should read the play to comprehend how their adverse attitudes to women can imply tragic consequences. Thus, one should admit that the play can be interesting for males.

As a result, it is evident that Glaspell managed to create the work that finds its reflections in the modern world. Both men and women can benefit from reading it because the literary work demonstrates the negative effects of sex discrimination. On the one hand, the play is close to women who understand what it is like to experience a prejudiced attitude. On the other hand, men also receive helpful information because they allow them to see the issue from a women’s perspective and see that the given approach can have tragic outcomes. Thus, there is no doubt that Glaspell successfully depicted the problem of sex discrimination and contributed to the strengthening of the feminist movement.

Addressing Domestic Violence

In addition to that, it is reasonable to admit that Glaspell successfully focuses on the issue of domestic violence in her play. This term stands for physical, economic, verbal, or emotional pressure on a spouse (Jawad 25). Even though the issue is not so widespread today as it was in the 20th century, many people, especially women, still suffer from it. That is why a significant number of individuals can find the play exciting and relevant to them. As has been described initially, the problem is complicated because it adversely affects both victims and abusers. It seems that the author tried to convey this message through the story of the Wrights, and she coped with the task. However, the most significant aspect refers to the fact that victims suffer from the adverse effect in the long run, while abusers abruptly face a response that can be detrimental to them. The following paragraphs will evaluate the play according to the strategy offered by Graff et al. (47). This approach stipulates that it is necessary to support the writing with clear examples from the reading under consideration.

In the beginning, it is necessary to admit that the writer took specific actions to generalize her play. This statement refers to the fact that Mrs. Wright is an off-stage character. Readers and spectators of the play are not given the description or vision of this woman. This element results in the fact that the image of a leading character is absent, meaning that the audience is free to make up her appearance. It is possible to suggest that this approach is efficient because it allows readers and spectators to imagine Mrs. Wright in a particular way to associate themselves with the character.

As has been mentioned above, the play setting bears significant meaning. While the male characters consider the place trivial and meaningless, the kitchen indeed conveys essential meanings. In particular, a state of mess is observed because there were “unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the breadbox, a dish towel on the table” (Glaspell 1). It is possible to suggest that the author described these details to highlight that Mrs. Wright was repressed, and Jawad supports this statement (29). This description demonstrates that the woman experienced mental abuse, and this fact makes the audience sympathize with the murderer. Readers and spectators understand that living in harmful conditions made the woman commit a crime. Since many women are still forced to spend more time in kitchens, the play raises this problem.

Finally, the play’s title is symbolic, and this fact deserves attention. The author relies on it to demonstrate that seemingly less significant issues can become of life importance in some conditions. While Mr. Wright believed that his repressive attitude toward his wife was a trifle, its effect was detrimental to the woman. That is why another case of abuse became the last drop for Mrs. Wright, and she decided to kill her husband. These events allow the author to demonstrate that family abuse is negative and dangerous to all its participants, including a victim and an abuser. Consequently, Glaspell effectively reveals the negative influence of family abuse, and the leading rationale behind this statement is that spectators and readers do not condemn the murderer. That is why people should not consider that the title underestimates the significance of the literary work. Instead of it, the word “Trifles” serves as a hook to attract the attention of the audience. After reading the play, people will get the hidden meanings and understand that trifles can be decisive in everyday life.


The evaluation report has analyzed Trifles by Susan Glaspell and identified that the play raises the topics of sex discrimination and domestic violence. Even though the literary work was created in the early 20th century, the author boldly criticizes these issues that were typical in that time and advocates for changing the situation. This play is successful because the author managed to understand the feelings of discriminated women and perfectly described them. The author successfully addressed the topic because the events of the 20th century were described in a manner that is interesting for modern people. As a result, many readers and spectators could associate themselves with Mrs. Wright. This woman kept experiencing loneliness and a repressive attitude from her husband, and the killing of her favorite canary became the last drop for her, which led to the murder. Glaspell has succeeded in the topic because she managed to present a controversial issue so that the general public does not condemn the murderer but understands his feelings and motivations. Thus, the author evidently promotes feminism and opposes family abuse, and the play is worth reading.

Works Cited

Doley, Dipak. K. “The concepts of Home, Family and Traditional Gender Roles: A Critical Study of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Social Vision, vol. 7, no. 2, 2020, pp. 41-51.

Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles.” 1916, Web.

Graff, Gerald, et al.. They Say/I Say with Readings. 5th ed., W. W. Norton, 2021.

Jawad, Enas. J. “The Dilemma of Domestic Violence in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles.” Journal of the College of Education for Women, vol. 31, no. 1, 2020, pp. 25-36.

Roen, Duane, et al. The McGraw-Hill Guide: Writing for College, Writing forLife. 5th ed., McGraw-Hill Higher Education (US), 2022.

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