Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. Do you believe that Mrs. Wright killed her husband? Explain.
➜ Yes, I believe Mrs. Wright murdered her husband. After reading the entire play, I believe she is a murderer. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters’ thorough investigation into Mrs. Wright’s minor transgressions revealed all of the evidence against her and proved her to be a murderer.
b. Do you think Mr. Wright’s death would have been uncovered if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped by the Wrights’ home?
➜ No, I don’t think Mr. Wright’s death would have been uncovered if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped by the Wright’s home. Nobody would have known about Mr. Wright’s death if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped by the Wrights’ house. The house was located quite far from the road. Nobody had been to this lonely house in a long time. Mr. Wright’s body would have decayed in that gloomy house if Mr. Hale hadn’t stopped there to ask for a phone line.
c. Why does Mrs. Hale think that Mrs. Wright’s worries about her preserves indicate her innocence?
➜ Mrs. Hale thinks that Mrs. Wright’s worries about her preserves indicate her innocence because Mrs. Wright does not strike her as a murderer who is obsessed with her housekeeping abilities. According to her, a person who is overly concerned with her preserves cannot possibly commit murder. Her attention to detail in her housekeeping skills demonstrates her innocence.
d. How does Mrs. Peters’ homesteading experience connect her to Mrs. Wright?
➜ Mrs. Peters’ homesteading experience connects her to Mrs. Wright in the following ways:
- She had a kitten when she was a girl. In front of her eyes, a boy killed it with a hatchet. She became enraged at the boy. She felt a sense of vengeance toward the boy. This encounter connects her to Mrs. Wright’s vengeance against the assassin of her canary.
- She lost her first child when she was two years old. She had gone through a difficult period without her adorable child. This experience connects her to Mrs. Wright’s difficult time without her beloved canary.
e. How do the women’s perspectives on men differ?
➜ Men’s arrogance and dominance are on display in this play. They have demonstrated their superiority over women. We think they’re showy and pointless. Most of the time, they make fun of women. Throughout the investigation, men constantly mock women’s perspectives. All men do not take women’s acts and discussions seriously. Women’s perspectives are taken as trifles by men.
Reference to the context
Read the extract from the play given below and answer the questions that follow:
a. “MRS. PETERS:(glancing around). Seems funny to think of a bird here. But she must have had one, or why would she have a cage? I wonder what happened to it?
MRS. HALE: I s’pose maybe the cat got it.”
i. Who does ‘she’ refer to?
➜ ‘She’ refers to Mrs. Wright.
ii. What does the word ‘one’ stand for?
➜ The word ‘one’ stands for a bird.
iii. What is the full form of “s’pose”
➜ The full form of “s’pose” is “suppose.”
iv. What do you mean when Mrs. Hale says, “the cat got it”?
➜ When Mrs. Hale says, “the cat got it”, I mean “the cat must have caught the bird.”
b. “MRS. HALE: Wright was close. …… she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir But that— oh, that was thirty years ago.”
i. Why does Mrs. Hale refer to Mrs. Wright as “Minnie Foster”?
➜ Mrs. Hale refers to Mrs. Wright as “Minnie Foster” because, before her marriage, Mrs. Wright was a very beautiful singer. She was known as Minnie Foster, and she used to dress pretty and sing in the choir.
ii. What does her description tell you about Mrs. Wright?
➜ Mrs. Wright was a beautiful singer before her marriage, according to her description. Her name was Minnie Foster, who used to sing beautifully and wear pretty clothes thirty years ago.
iii. What does Mrs. Hale mean by “that was thirty years ago”?
➜ By “that was thirty years ago”, Mrs. Hale refers to the period in Mrs. Wright’s life when she was an unmarried and well-known singer known as Minnie Foster.
c. What is the main theme of the play?
➜ The play’s main theme is the status of women in contemporary American society, as well as male dominance over women. Aside from that, we find various themes in this play such as isolation, loss of identity, vengeance and violence, and freedom through rebellion.
d. Discuss the symbolism used in the play.
➜ Symbolism is a literary device referring to the representation of a concept through symbols or the underlying meanings of objects or qualities. In this play, we find a variety of objects that represent a variety of hidden meanings. The following are the symbols used in the play:
- The Quilt: The quilt is made up of fabric patches that are sewn together to form an enlarging square. The quilt is not finished in the drama. It represents Minnie’s fate, the patches of fabric represent every piece of information discovered, and from that, the women deduced the murder.
- The Birdcage: Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were looking for a piece of paper and string when they came across a broken birdcage. The Birdcage represents Mr. Wright’s treatment of Minnie; his coldness and harshness prevent Minnie from making friends and socializing with other people.
- The Rocking Chair: Minnie sits in the rocking chair after murdering her husband. The rocking chair represents Minnie’s attempt to remain calm and as natural as possible. It’s a place where Minnie can relax and have fun, allowing her to escape from reality for a while.
- The Bird: When Mrs. Hale discovered the bird was dead, she noticed that it died not of natural causes, but because someone broke its neck. The dead bird was placed in a lovely box and wrapped in silk. It clearly indicates that the bird is special to the owner, and that the killer was not Minnie.
e. Discuss the setting of the play. Does it have an impact on the theme of the play?
➜ This play is set in Mr. John Wright’s abandoned farmhouse. Down in the hollow, where the road cannot be seen, it is a lonely, gloomy, and cold place. Yes, it has an effect on the play’s theme. This setting depicted the lives of contemporary American women who used to be bound by their husbands’ obligations. They used to live in isolation and restriction within the confines of their homes. The house’s setting even suggests male dominance over women.
Reference beyond the text
a. The credibility of a character is determined not only by the character’s thoughts and actions but also by what other characters say and think about him or her. Discuss in relation to the characters of Trifles.
➜ Through on-stage characters such as Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, we as readers are led to the off-stage main character Mrs. Wright. These two on-stage characters continue to discuss and inform us about various aspects of Mrs. Wright’s life. While investigating, their conversation about Mrs. Wright revealed a number of previously unknown aspects of Mrs. Wright’s life. We can learn about Mrs. Wright’s life and sufferings thanks to women’s information. Readers become emotionally invested in learning about her life story. Both women and their descriptions of Mrs. Wright are incredible. Their contributions to the play have made all of the readers feel good about Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Wright has been portrayed positively in the eyes of all readers thanks to the efforts of these two characters. All of the readers sympathize with Mrs. Wright.
b. Dramatic irony occurs when the reader or audience has information that is unknown to the characters in a play; it creates tension and suspense. Analyse the play discussing the author’s use of dramatic irony based on these questions:
⚫ What information is crucial to the play Trifles?
➜ Dramatic irony is a literary device that occurs when the audience or reader discovers what was previously hidden. The leading characters in the play are unaware of the facts, but the readers or audiences are aware of the facts. The crucial information related to dramatic irony in this play is that Mrs. Wright has murdered her husband. The readers learn about the facts behind the murder through Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, but the male characters, who appear to be preoccupied with finding clues, are unaware of these facts.
➜ The playwright uses this information very tactfully to create dramatic irony, creating various twists, suspense, reader interest, and revelation in a very interesting way. The playwright continues to present information about murder through predictions and proofs that the characters make and obtain during the course of the investigation to find the true murderer.
⚫ What effect does the dramatic irony have on the audience and on the play?
➜ The playwright manages and presents dramatic irony very well. It elevates the audience and readers above the play’s main male characters. It has kept the readers’ interest, anticipation, hope, fear, curiosity, and suspense. The readers now have accurate information about all of the male characters in the play. Dramatic irony has made this play very interesting and full of twists where facts are revealed, causing readers to be curious.