Susan Glaspell was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, and co-founder of the Provincetown Players, America’s first modern American theater company. A powerful woman of time she has a lasting effect into today’s literary world. In her writing, she looked at the inequality of how society treated sexes differently and the difficulties of women faced if they tried to live independently by trying to live their own lives without relying on men and how they circumvented the attempts at social repression. .
The Provincetown Players provided a stage for her to mature as a writer. The Provincetown Players were as the first modern theater group they were a major artistic influence at that time, and influenced Glaspell’s life as well as the lives of others. They did this by providing a forum for innovative ideas and a gathering center for other creative people with new thoughts. When not in Provincetown she lived in New York’s Greenwich Village with her husband George Cook. Then as now, Greenwich Village was an established colony of artists and writers. This provided her with a supportive community that actively advocated expression, and feminism. Trifles or A Jury of Her Peers is one of the creative results of that environment.
A Birds Eye View of Trifles
Some people say that birds do not have souls. They are wrong. In truth, we are little but spirit: that and a few feathers, hollow bones and throats full of song. Ah but what a difference we can make in the lives of humans. Fluttering, keeping our wings strong for the day when we soar freely. I am free now while the woman who loved me is living in a true cage, behind bars in a jail.
I saw it all of course; I had what is known as “a bird’s eye view.” Lacking the power of speech people had no hesitation in saying what they thought around me. Even greater though was my power of observation and what I saw. "There was a man round last year selling canaries cheap--but I don't know as she took one. Maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty herself."
The first time I saw her Minnie Wright was a sad lady, kind looking, not hard the way some people get, just warn out. If she were a bird, her wings would have been drooping and her feathers puffed out. Lacking those attributes her clothes and her shoulders showed the effects of what seemed to be years of discontent. Her shoulders drooped as if she was more accustomed to burdens than freedom and her clothes puffed and sagged in all the wrong places. Still, as I said before she was not unkind and hard, the way some people get and when I sang for her, it was as if the weight lifted and her spirit soared along with my voice. So, I in my cage with the bars come to live with her and her husband in their cage, with its open windows and sagging door.
I said before she was not unkind and hard, the way some people get, I cannot say the same about her husband. "Like a raw wind that gets to the bone." . In my opinion, Mr. Wright was Mr. Wrong, especially for Minnie. He was hard and cruel, lacing the power of flight and song he would deny it to others. I tried to keep quiet around him and save my songs for Minnie alone but it was not easy. Before he would enter the house he would lurk around outside, searching for evidence of the betrayal he knew he so richly deserved.
Minnie was not like that though; she was as loyal as a wren. She was as happy as one too, when HE was not at home, “she was kind of like a bird herself. Real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and--fluttery.” However, after he walked through that door “How--she--did--change.” . I remember her on the summer days she would shut the windows and doors to let me out of my cage, and together we would sing while the house filled with the sweet smell of fruit and the sweeter sound of joyous song. You would not have known it to see her on the street, but she could sing. She must have learned it as a young girl. That was something she would not have taught from Mr. Wro Er Wright.
She loved setting to rights the small details in life. A place for everything and everything in its place. Bread in the breadbox never left out on the counter to turn dry or attract vermin, sugar in a bucket on the low shelf. How she loved to scrub and dust. She really had the nesting instinct it is a shame she never had children. Perhaps it is for the best though; John Wright would not have made a loving father.
He was the kind that always found fault, it did not matter how hard Minnie tried he would look and search until he found something. After a while, she stopped trying so hard, it just did not matter. She always was dusting and setting out fresh towels. Mrs. Wright had not done that in a while. The fresh towels did not last for five minutes after John Wright walked through the door. The water to the sink did not flow so Minnie used to haul it in by the bucket from the well. She kept a pitcher by the sink for washing but that was not good enough for Wright. He used to plunge his arms in to the elbows into that bucket that she needed for cooking and everything else, they without a glance at the soap wipe his filth off on her nice clean towels.
As much as he complained about her, he never did much around the house to make life better or easier. The sink was out for months, the stove was bad stove its lining broken making it almost impossible to cook anything evenly. That did not matter to him, oh no, her cooking was just one more thing he could berate her about. I hated watching, There would be a gleam in his eye and a tear in hers.
She was piecing a quilt. That did not stop even after she lost interest in her nest. She would sit in her rocking chair like a sad little bird on a branch sewing stitch after delicate stitch. She was wiping down the table when he came in that last night. Something must have gone wrong that day because he was furious. He demanded a cup of hot tea. Minnie dropped the dishtowel in the middle of the kitchen table with one half of it was wiped clean, the other half messy. For his part, he went to the roller towel and soiled every last inch.
With the water on for the tea she took the bread out and started to make him a sandwich Things moved quickly from then on like the blur of a snake striking. One moment everything hangs motionless the next everything is over. The whistle on the teapot blew wretched open the cabinet door so hard it swung limply on its hinge. Minnie left the bread and made the tea. Then it was the sugar. The wooden bucket was not full enough, so she went to fill it she took the cover off the wooden bucket, to fill it from a paper bag it was half-full.
I must have made some noise because then it was my turn. Wright ripped the door off my cage and wrung my neck. They say the spirit leaves the body, and it did but although I could hear the echoes of the music of the spheres, I stayed for just a little while, for Minnie’s sake. So I saw something made him stop. He looked at Minnie and stormed off upstairs. She wrapped me in a piece of silk and put me in a pretty box that she had from a long time ago, when she was a girl. She sat and sewed for a while, her stitches no longer precise. When she heard John Wright snoring, she went upstairs, the snoring stopped. When she came back down I brushed her with my spirit wing, I do not know it she felt it. She just sat in the rocker and waited. The neighbor came over later, then the sheriff who took her away to the peoples’ cage. I left then. There was nothing in that house for me.
Before I ended up as the merchandise of the man who sold birds like me door to door, I was in a shop with many other birds. There was a parrot on a perch there. All my life the only thing I ever knew was one cage or another. The parrot was far older than I was; those birds live a long time. He remembered the jungle from when he was a nestling and longed for it. At night and in the early morning he would beat his wings furiously, keeping them strong. All day he would speak softly of his jungle, the fruits and flower, the soft scented air. I asked him why he did not just fly back home since he was on a perch and not in a cage? Then he showed me how they clipped his wing feathers so that he could not fly. However, they grow back; he nodded, twice a year they have to clip them again. Each year they get more careless as long as they do not see flap and me stretch they think I have given up, but I have not. The time is going to come if not this year it will be the next, or the one after that when I can choose my moment and lift off to freedom. Just before I left, he started to be able to barely life himself off the perch. “Soon,” he said to me, “Soon.” Those were the last words I heard him speak, I hope he made it
Minnie reminded me of that parrot, and John Wright was constantly keeping her wings clipped. She would sit there rocking and sewing until that night when he pushed her too far. Perhaps she had been gathering strength to fly free. I hope she make it too. He hated me and killed me because I was "a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that too."
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Bradford, Wade. "'Trifles' by Susan Glaspell - Plot and Character Analysi." 2014. About.Com. <http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/trifles.htm>.
Glaspel, Susan. "TRIFLES - a play in one act." 1915. One Act Plays. <http://www.one-act-plays.com/dramas/trifles.html>.
Smith, Nicole. "Analysis of the Play “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell." 2014. Article Myriad. <http://www.articlemyriad.com/analysis-play-trifles-susan-glaspell/>.