We will write a custom Essay on “Trifle” a Short Play by Susan Glaspell specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The Trifle is a short play by Glaspell. The play revolves around Mrs. Wright, who lived a horrible life. Ironically, this character does not appear on stage, and the audience only learns of her through other characters on stage. During her youth before marriage, Mrs. Wright is a pompous and full of beauty, until he meets her husband, Mr. Wright, an insensitive dispassionate asocial farmer. This man drives out the vibrancy in his wife by his coldness. On the day, Mr. Wright kills a quilting songbird that his wife had kept keeping her company and friendship. This act makes Mrs. Wright strangle her husband in the middle of the night.
However, after the county prosecuting attorney arrives accompanied by the town’s sheriff and a neighboring farmer together with their wives, they fail to establish any tangible evidence. Nevertheless, the wives find evidence that Mrs. Wright could have been involved in the murder. However, after learning the horrible life that Mr. Wright had subjected his wife to, they choose to hide the evidence. Trifles address the issue of guilt and innocence as relative moral or legal matters depending on one’s perception.
Guilt and Innocence
In this play, guilt and innocence come out as matters subject to change depending on the underlying circumstances. According to the prosecuting attorney, the town’s sheriff, and the farmer, someone can be guilt only if there is enough evidence. Ironically, they are not keen on finding this evidence. After a short search, the sheriff states that there is “nothing here but kitchen things” (Beiderwell & Wheeler 206).
Therefore, Mrs. Wright is innocent because there is no evidence to convict her. Here guilt and innocence are based entirely based on a legal perspective, and Mrs. Wright remains innocent, for she cannot be proved guilty. Moreover, the law states that everyone is innocent until proved otherwise. However, given the fact that the audience knows what really happened, the conclusion is outright, that being guilty or innocent is subject to primary requirements of law.
On the other side, the women in this cast pass on guilt and innocence from a moral perspective. They had tangible evidence that Mrs. Wright could have been involved in the murder. They discover a dead songbird lying in a broken cage. It is clear that someone had contorted its neck. This brings back memories of the youth. They recall that as they grew up, Mrs. Wright loved to sing melodiously as a songbird.
Again, they note that “Not having children does less work – but it makes a quiet house” (Beiderwell & Wheeler 206). Therefore, at least Mrs. Wright would have appreciated the presence of the bird in the house to make some music to her as a way of killing the resounding silence. Consequently, Mrs. Wright could not have killed the songbird. “She was kind of like a bird herself – really sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and – fluttery. How – she – did – change” (Beiderwell & Wheeler, 207). So, who did it?
From what these women deduce, Mr. Wright had killed the songbird. He does not seem to like music at all. First, he killed the songs in his wife’s heart by subjecting her to untold emotional and psychological pain that she lost happiness and purpose in this life. Then, he kills the songbird. Mrs. Hale notes that, “…Wright wouldn’t like the bird – a thing that sang…” (Beiderwell & Wheeler 209). Therefore, there is a possibility that Mr. Wright killed the songbird, and out of anger, his wife killed him. This is tangible evidence that could have assisted the prosecution and the eventual conviction of Mrs. Wright.
Therefore, these women can prove Mrs. Wright’s guilt on the basis of evidence that they have. At this point, according to these women, Mrs. Wright is guilty based on the law, for there is enough evidence. However, Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale choose to look at it from another perspective. After a long time, they had known Mrs. Wright; they knew she had changed after getting married.
They knew her as a beautiful young woman who would sing even to trees. However, this flamboyance died the moment she got married to Mr. Wright. Based on this moral perspective, Mrs. Wright was innocent because Mr. Wright had no moral obligation to hurt his wife the way he did. He should have taken care of his wife by loving her with tenderness and kindness. Here comes the perspective of innocence and guilt. Someone becomes guilty of doing what is wrong. However, according to these women, Mrs. Wright had done what was moral “right,” given her situation.
From the context of this play, Trifles, it is clear that guilt and innocence are relative moral or legal elements depending on one’s perception and circumstances. According to the men investigating the murder of Mr. Wright, there is no enough evidence to convict Mrs. Wright of murder, so she remains innocent. This is the legal element of innocence and guilt. On the other side, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter have tangible evidence to prove Mrs. Wright guilty of murder.
However, on the other side, they find Mrs. Wright innocent given the conditions that she was going through, and they choose to hide then evidence that would otherwise subject her top law. This is the moral perspective of innocence and guilt. Therefore, evidence withstanding; one can be ‘morally’ innocent depending on what pushed him or her to do what he or she did, and this comes out clearly in Glaspell’s Trifles.
Beiderwell, Bruce and Wheeler, Jeffrey. “The Literary Experience: Essential Edition.” New York: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2008.