The storyline of the play Trifle’s by Susan Glaspell revolves around resolving a murder mystery. The people involved in this murder case include Mr. and Mrs. Wright, a local advocate, a senior police officer, the Hale’s family and the Sheriff’s wife. Much of the Trifle’s addresses the audience nonverbally, utilizing physical and visual cues, which are characteristic of the play.
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In the play, Mr. John Wright and his spouse Minnie Foster are not visibly heard. In this case, their character traits can only be derived from comments made by other characters, coupled with their perceptions.
According to Mr. Hale, the main suspect in Mr. Wright’s murder is her widow, Foster Minnie. This is attributed to Minnie’s strange behavior as noticed by Mr. Hale during an impromptu visit to the Wright’s homestead. The manner in which Minnie discloses the news surrounding her husband’s death, i.e. by putting across arguments that he had been strangled to death is what makes it difficult for him to believe her story.
In addition, Minnie does not take the expected step to report the death of her husband to the relevant authorities. Together with Mrs. Peters, the Sherriff‘s wife, Mrs. Hale helps in gathering relevant pieces of evidence linking Minnie to John Wright’s murder.
In the play, we also get to know the character traits of the Wright’s from other characters. Mr. Wright is in this case portrayed as a principled man, struggling to provide for his family, just like any other responsible family man. It is this firmness on the part of Mr. Wright that can easily make one draw a conclusion that Mrs. Wright had a difficult time to either control or get along with her late husband, thereby making her contemplate murdering her husband.
On the other hand, Minnie Foster is depicted as a quiet but cheerful lady, who previously took active roles in church activities such as choir. Mrs. Hale attributes the change in the cheerful nature of Mrs. Wright to her dissatisfaction in marriage and her desire to get children of her own. This must have made her suffer from stress and depression, hence making her withdraw from active societal matters.
In the play, men are depicted as individuals with less concern on matters directly touching on femininity. This is seen when the Sheriff and the County Attorney concentrate their investigations in searching for evidence in the farmhouse and not the entire home, despite having Minnie Foster as the main suspect.
Mrs. Wright is also described as a lady who enjoyed singing prior to her marriage. This probably explains why she had the two birds, canaries and the quilt which also liked singing. Despite being perceived as a major source of joy, companionship and inspiration to Mrs. Wright, they may have been regarded as nuisances to Mr. Wright, who is suspected to have killed them.
From the evidence piled by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, the manner in which John Wright had been murdered is quite similar to the manner in which the birds were killed. This makes Minnie Foster a key suspect in the murder case i.e. she might have killed her husband to revenge the loss of her birds.
Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale wished to protect Mrs. Wright by trying to conceal some pieces of evidence linking her to her husband’s murder. However, after presenting their hints to the investigators, their views and investigations were ignored by the police, making it more difficult for them to resolve the murder mystery.
The end of the play leaves the audience in suspense in that it does not clearly tell us whether Mrs. Wright was actually guilty for the murder, or whether the two women presented their findings to the officers investigating the crime. This kind of ending is characteristic of most plays in that it enables the audience to draw individual conclusions, depending on their interpretation and understanding of the play’s major themes.