Symbolism in Glaspell's "Trifles " In today's society, we generally view upon everyone as equal beings who deserve equal rights. At the turn of the 20 th century, this particular view didn't exist. Men clearly dominated almost every aspect of life and women were often left with little importance. The Wright's embody this view of roles in Susan Glaspell's play Trifles.
Mrs. Wright was a typical woman who suffered the mental abuse from her husband and was caged from life. In Trifles, a mixture of symbolism of oppression illustrates Mrs. Minnie Wright's motives to kill her husband and to escape from imprisonment. In the play, the setting takes place in an "abandoned" and "gloomy" farmhouse out in the country. Almost immediately does the reader get the impression that it is a very secluded and cold place.
The coldness of the setting in many ways resembles the aloofness of Mr. Wright who is described as "hard man" and "a raw wind that gets to the bone." Most of the play revolves around the women and the kitchen. While the men scramble throughout the house looking for evidence or hints of a motive for death, the women stumble upon the entire mystery while remaining at the place where they were told to remain and gather items Mrs. Wright. The kitchen too seems like a remote place and much resembles the marriage between Mr.
and Mrs. Wright. The kitchen is the spot where Mrs. Wright (and most women of the time) spent most of their time in. Like the cage to the canary, she feels imprisoned in the kitchen and she feels compelled to escape by any means. Her break out is executed at the expense of Mr.
Wright's life. In the play, the county attorney stumbles upon Mrs. Wright's preserves. Due to the frigid temperature, most of her preserves held in glass jars had broken. Only one jar - a jar of cherries - manages to survive. The fruit possess much symbolism as well.
Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters feel very sorry that Mrs. Wright had spent much "hard work in the hot weather" in order to have her preserves. She had saved the fruit so that one day she could enjoy them. However, this was not the case.
All of her hard labor was shattered as a result of the temperature. Similarly, Mrs. Wright was shattered by her husband killing her canary bird. The broken jars and spoiled fruit also resemble Mrs. Wright.
They are both contained in this "cold" atmosphere and sooner or later break. The one jar of cherries that manages to survive suggests Mrs. Wright's character. Despite all the negative influences around her, she will not meet her demise and she has to do the only thing that would keep her from vanishing- that is, murdering Mr. Wright. Much like the kitchen, the birdcage is also used as a symbol for Mrs.
Wright. In the play, Mrs. Peters finds the birdcage empty. The two ladies also find that the cage's door hinge is pulled apart. The ladies conclude that someone had "been rough with it." The cage in the play suggests many things. A cage signifies imprisonment and captivity.
This easily fits within the play and represents the confinement of Mrs. Wright's marriage. Mrs. Wright did not do much in her later life.
Most of her time was spent in the kitchen. Before her marriage, Mrs. Wright was described as being a lively and pleasant woman who would love to sing. Since her marriage, she had been transformed into a secluded and sheltered woman. Mrs. Wright does not want to feel this way any longer and needs to escape her incarceration.
The only way she can get away from this is by taking the life of her husband. Perhaps the most distinct symbols in the play comes from the dead canary Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale later find in Mrs.
Wright's sewing box. The canary is one of the things that had keeps Mrs. Wright sane. It remains one of the few precious things in her life. The bird represents Mrs. Wright's happiness.
When the two ladies had found the cage, they think maybe "the cat got it." Indeed, the cat does get the bird- in this case, the cat is Mr. Wright himself. The innocent bird is Mrs. Wright who is strangled by Mr. Wright.
His presence enslaves her and "kills" her. When Mr. Wright finally kills the canary, Mrs. Wright loses her contentment of life and has no choice but to avenge her canary's death.
Mrs. Wright is clearly the victim of mental and domestic abuse and finally "breaks" when her husband took her bird's life away. Glaspell's usage of symbolism illustrates how John Wright's self-contemplation and actions have beset the passion of his wife. Mrs Minnie Wright took matters into her own hands and did what she had to do. The symbolism depicts the life of Minnie Wright and also describes the lives of exploited and demoralized women who lived under man's rule. Works Cited◙ Glaspell, Susan.
"Trifles." Literature for Composition: Essays, Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed. Sylvan Barnet, William Bur to and William E. Cain. 7 th ed. New York: Pearson & Longman, 2005.