Wednesday, May 12, 2021

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 4 | Lesson 1 Trifles | One Act Play | Susan Glaspell

Lesson: 1

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 4 | Lesson 1 Trifles | One Act Play | Susan Glaspell

Trifles (Susan Glaspell)








The play is set in the Wright's abandoned farmhouse. It is a lonesome, gloomy place down in the hollow where the road cannot be seen. The story's motive is to reveal the murderer of John Wright. The characters doubt whether the murder must be committed by his wife or someone else. The male characters suspect Mrs. Right. So, they focus to search for evidence in the kitchen.

The play begins with George Henderson, the Country Attorney, Mr. Peters and Mr. Hale, entering the kitchen of the Wrights’ farmhouse where the murder took place. They are followed by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. The women stand by the kitchen door. Mr. Hale explains the events since he had entered the farmhouse the previous day, to the Sheriff and the Attorney.

When Mr. Henderson starts his investigation in the kitchen, he finds a jar containing fruit preservative to be broken because of the cold, and resulting mess. When Mrs. Peters tells the attorney that Mrs. Wright was worried about her preservative. Mr. Hale says that women are used to worrying over trifles. Hearing the men Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale move closer to each other. On a couple of occasions, Mrs. Hale is also shown defending Mrs. Wright. She also indicates that Mr. Wright was a rather unwelcoming personality.

Mr. Henderson allows Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters to gather few belongings for Mrs. Wright before going upstairs in search of evidence. Mrs. Hale rearranges the kitchen to its tidy condition before the men enters it. She remembers Mrs. Wright as Minnie Foster, who loved to sing, before 30 years. She believes that she was sad and unhappy after her marriage. The women find the sewing on a quilt to be wrong, and want to fix it. They search for the paper and string in the cupboard to complete the quilt. Instead, she finds a bird cage. They notice the head of the bird is in the same condition as that of Mr. Wright.

The women now have a new insight about Mrs. Wright’s situation. They speculate that her husband must have killed the bird. It must have been awful for her that after so many years of emptiness the only bird that sang was also killed. In her rage, she must have murdered her husband. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale decide to hide the evidence they have found as to Mrs. Wright's motive. Unsurprisingly, the men take no notice, thinking of the item as simply trifles.

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 4 | Lesson 1 Trifles | One Act Play | Susan Glaspell

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. Do you believe that Mrs. Wright killed her husband? Explain.

Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale discover a number of clues which point to Mr. Wright's cruelty. They examine her untidy kitchen, take note of Minnie's irregular stitching, discover a broken birdcage, and find a dead canary in Minnie's sewing box. They come to the conclusion that Mr. Wright killed her beloved pet, in her rage, she killed him in his sleep. She murdered her husband to escape her abusive and oppressive marriage.

b. Do you think Mr. Wright’s death would have been uncovered if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped by the Wrights’ home?

Mr. Hale is a person who initially learns the death of Mr. Wright. It is possible that if Mr. Hale had not stopped by the Wrights’ home, his death would not have been uncovered for a long time. As few people visit the farmhouse, and she might have been able to hide the body and keep others from finding her husband's death.

c. Why does Mrs. Hale think that Mrs. Wright’s worries about her preserves indicate her innocence?

Mrs. Wright takes care of the household things like fruits, apron, shawl, etc. They obviously make Mr. Wright happy. They are the symbols of the home that she once loved. Her worries about these things brings out her true self. This makes Mrs. Hale think that she is innocent.

d. How does Mrs. Peters’ homesteading experience connect her to Mrs. Wright?

Mrs. Hale finds that Mrs. Wright was trying to bury the bird that she loved in the pretty box. Mrs. Peters becomes nostalgic remembering her childhood days when a boy killed her kitten with a hatchet. She was furious to hurt the boy but she was not allowed to so. The women connect the killing of the bird to the murder of Mr. Wright. It must have been awful for Mrs. Wright that after so many years of emptiness the only bird that sang was also killed. Mrs. Peters relates her own personal experience of losing her two- year old baby. She had a tough time to fight the emptiness after the death of the baby. However, she feels the law has to punish Mrs. Wright for the crime.

e. How do the women’s perspectives on men differ?

The women believe that each of them has suffered a similar circumstance in a male dominated society. It lets them understand the plight of Mrs. Wright easily. They consider that Mrs. Wright is worthy of their protection. While men are looking for evidence, women worry about the trifles. They find the motive behind the murder. They become sympathetic to Mrs. Wright and hide the evidence. They unify with Mrs. Wright against the law.

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 4 | Lesson 1 Trifles | One Act Play | Susan Glaspell

Reference to the context

c. What is the main theme of the play?

The major theme of the play is gender differences. The play suggests that the men are aggressive, rough and self-centered. On the contrary, the women are more deliberative and sensitive to the needs of others. These differences help the women to find the clues needed to solve the crime, while the men miss the same clues. The men only want to gather evidence of Mrs. Wright's crime, whereas the women come to understand the mental pain that drove Mrs. Wright to kill her husband.

d. Discuss the symbolism used in the play.

Preserves- femininity

Rope- revenge

Quilt- psychic instability

Bird cage- restriction

Bird- freedom

Knotting the Quilt – killing her husband

f. Discuss the setting of the play. Does it have an impact on the theme of the play?

The play is set in John Wright's abandoned farmhouse during the winter months in 1916. The house is a lonesome, gloomy place down in the hollow where the road cannot be seen. The setting of the play contributes to our understanding of Mr. Wright's position because it implies that she was depressed or unhappy just by judging from the way her house looks. The setting of Trifles also helps us understand the characters and also moves the plot.

for Class 11 Optional English Note


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