histats Class 11 English: Summary of Trifles by Susan Glaspell | Questions and Answers

Class 11 English: Summary of Trifles by Susan Glaspell | Questions and Answers

Class 11 English: Trifles by Susan Glaspell | Summary | Questions and Answers

Class 11 English: Trifles by Susan Glaspell | Summary Questions and Answers

Background of the Trifles by Susan Glaspell

Susan Glaspell, an American playwright, writer, journalist, and actor, wrote the suspenseful and intriguing one-act drama "Trifles." This play has been performed to depict many facets of women's life and self-priorities.

Isolation, loss of identity, masculine dominance, retribution and violence, feminism, and liberation through rebellion are some of the topics explored in this drama.

The whole drama revolves on an inquiry into Mr. John Wright's death. Mrs. Minnie Wright, his wife, has been charged with his murder and has been arrested. This performance depicted the investigation into this specific murder, as well as many viewpoints from Mrs. Wright's neighbors regarding her and various evidence linked to this crime.

Mrs. Wright, who is off-stage in this play, is the main subject of debate. The inquiry continues, complete with theories, evidence, and Mrs. Wright's discussion.

Main Summary of Trifles by Susan Glaspell

Mr. John Wright's farmhouse is the setting for the drama. All of the characters enter Mr. Wright's kitchen at the beginning of the story. Mr. George Henderson, Mr. Henry Peters, and Mr. Lewis Hale are the first to enter the kitchen. Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are the women that follow these guys. The kitchen is in a terrible state of disarray. When they arrive, they discover everything to be run-down and abandoned. In the kitchen, dishes are strewn about, a loaf of bread is out of the bread box, a dishtowel is on the table, dirty pans are beneath the sink, and so on. It seems to be a symbol of unfinished labor.

The male characters all walk closer to the hearth, while the female ones remain by the entrance. Mr. Henderson, the County Attorney, inspects the items in the kitchen to see whether they have been touched.

He begins his inquiry by asking Mr. Hale about the events of the previous day. [ Mr. Hale was one of the first people to see Mr. Wright's body. Mr. Hale says he went to Mr. Wright's residence to inquire about obtaining a telephone connection. Mrs. Wright was seated in a rocker (a chair) and rocking back and forth when he arrived. While pleating her apron, she seemed odd and uneasy. She acted weirdly around Mr. Hale. With a rope around her husband's neck, she told Mr. Hale of his death upstairs. She said that while she was sleeping, someone murdered her spouse. She also said that she had not heard from her spouse throughout the night. Mr. Hale then told Mr. Henry Peters about Mr. John Wright's death and accompanied him to the location to inspect the corpse. He even went so far as to summon the coroner, a government officer in charge of investigating strange deaths. Mrs. Wright chuckled and was horrified when Mr. Hale mentioned the telephone.

Mr. George Henderson, the County Attorney, starts his inquiry in the kitchen. In the cupboard's closets, he examines several fruits, preservatives, and shattered glass jars. The shattered jars' glasses have wreaked havoc on the cupboard.

Mr. Henderson and Mr. Peters both critique the minor concerns about Mrs. Wright's preservative jars, who has been charged and arrested for her husband's murder.

Mr. Henderson is always critiquing Mrs. Wright's housekeeping abilities and a soiled towel. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, on the other hand, are in favor of Mrs. Wright becoming a woman. Mr. Hale's discourse irritates both ladies. Mr. Hale claims that women are preoccupied with little details. After hearing his discussion, both ladies get more attracted to one other. The guys make their way upstairs to look for proof. Mr. Henderson permits both ladies to collect Mrs. Wright's stuff. Mr. Henderson interrupts Mrs. Hale as she organizes a pan in the kitchen. Mrs. Hale despises Mr. Henderson's job of shaming women. Mrs. Wright's clothing are taken from her wardrobe by both ladies. Later on, both ladies begin to discuss Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Hale tells Mrs. Peters about Mrs. Wright. Mrs. Wright, she claims, was a well-known singer thirty years ago under the name Minnie Foster. She was so lovely and cheery back then. She used to sing well while wearing a lovely outfit. Her pleasure, however, came to an end once she married. Her spouse was a very rigid person. He refused to let her join the women's help organization. She generally wore an apron with a shawl placed behind the door when she married. Mrs. Hale sees Mrs. Wright as a kind lady who is concerned about the preservatives in fruit jars. Mrs. Wright did not kill her husband, according to both ladies.

Mrs. Peters claims that her husband has reservations about Mrs. Wright. He didn't trust Mrs. Wright's claim that she didn't wake up throughout the murder. Mrs. Hale even says her husband discovered a pistol in the home. Using a rope instead of a pistol to commit murder is very suspect. Mrs. Hale is concerned about Mrs. Wright, who is incarcerated in the local jail.

Mrs. Hale discovers a huge sewing basket with a quilt a little later. They discover that the quilt's stitches aren't well-stitched when they check it. They suggest Mrs.anxiety Wright's while she stitched the quilt. Men laugh and make fun of women's trivial duties when they hear them talking about quilts and knots. The guys go to the barn to look for proof.

Both ladies want to finish the quilt that has been left incomplete. Mrs. Peters discovers a birdcage in a cabinet while looking for paper and thread. There is no bird in the cage, and the door is broken. Mrs. Hale recalls a guy selling canaries for singing birds the previous year. They assume Mr. Wright purchased a canary from him. Mrs. Hale speculates that the caged bird was captured by the cat. Mrs. Peters, on the other hand, assures Mrs. Hale that Mrs. Wright does not have a cat. Her cat, she claims, once got into Mrs. Wright's chamber and disturbed her. Mrs. Hale is concerned about not being able to see Mrs. Wright these days. She claims she has never loved this lonely and dismal location, which is hollow and too far from the road. Mr. Wright, Mrs. Hale continues, was a difficult guy to live with. In the home, there were no children. While Mr. Wright was at work, Mrs. Wright had to spend her time alone. Mrs. Hale assumes Mrs. Wright purchased a canary for her business. Mrs. Hale claims that before marriage, she was like a bird, charming and gorgeous, singing brilliantly in a chorus. She is perplexed as to how she has changed.

Mrs. Hale later discovers a lovely red box in the sewing basket when looking for scissors to repair Mrs. Wright's stitches. They're both taken aback when they discover a dead canary wrapped in a silk handkerchief. They are scared when they see the bird's wrung neck. They conceal the red box amid the quilt pieces when they hear the sound of men returning from the barn. Mr. Henderson mocks the ladies for inquiring about the blanket's knotting or quilting. Mrs. Peters responded forcefully, stating that Mrs. Wright wanted to tie it. The guys talk about how they couldn't discover any proof in the barn.

The guys then talk about the rope, which was the house's rope and was used to kill Mr. Wright. They return to the second floor to examine the rope inch by inch.

Both ladies now have a better understanding of Mrs. Wright's position. Mrs. Hale claims Mrs. Wright was attempting to bury her beautiful bird in a nice red box. Mrs. Peters is saddened as she remembers an episode from her past. She claims to have had a lovely kitty when she was a child. However, her cat was mercilessly slaughtered with a hatchet in front of her eyes by a kid. She also claims that if she had been brave enough, she would have injured the youngster. Mrs. Peters' viewpoints convey the notion of vengeance. Both ladies attempt to link the death of a bird to Mr. Wright's murder. Mr. Wright, Mrs. Hale concludes, was a severe guy who disliked his wife singing and even a singing bird-like canary. A bird began singing after many years of silence in the home. Mr. Wright had to have murdered the bird because he was enraged, she believes.

Mrs. Peters describes a time when she was completely motionless (emptiness). She had already lost her first two-year-old child. She got through her difficult period without her kid when the infant died. She does, however, emphasize that the law must punish the offense. Mrs. Hale remembers Mrs. Wright from her time as a signer. She regrets not paying Mrs. Wright a visit and assisting her with her needs during these days.

Mrs. Hale develops sympathy for Mrs. Wright and chooses not to inform her about the broken preservation jars. Mrs. Peters ties a petticoat over a lovely jar of preservatives for Mrs. Wright. They don't want to hurt her feelings. Mrs. Peters is well aware that the men would scoff at their grief over the canary's death.

The guys appear downstairs, claiming that they need concrete proof to identify the perpetrator. Mr. Henderson seems dissatisfied. He wants to remain there for any further clues in order to continue with the investigation. Mrs. Peters requests that Mr. Henderson check Mrs. Wright's possessions that she has stolen. Mr. Henderson validates them at random, claiming that as a sheriff's wife, she is likewise connected to the law. To check for evidence, the sheriff and coroner proceed to the other room's window. Mr. Hale also leaves the house.

Mrs. Wright's evidence is kept hidden by both ladies. Mrs. Peters tries to conceal the box in her bag, but it is too large. She attempts to capture the canary, but she is unable to do so. Mrs. Hale takes the box from Mrs. Peters and stuffs it into the pocket of her great coat as the door in the other room slams shut.

Mr. Henderson and Mrs. Hale had a talk near the conclusion of the play. Mr. Henderson cynically inquires of the women about Mrs. Wright's statement that she would not quilt it. Mrs. Hale, on the other hand, supports Mrs. Wright, claiming that she was planning to tie.

Short Summary Of Susan Glaspell's Trifles

Susan Glaspell, an American writer, wrote this one-act play titled 'Trifles.' This drama is about Mr. John Wright's murder and the inquiry into it. Male dominance, isolation, loss of identity, retribution and violence, and liberation through rebellion are some of the themes explored in this drama. This drama was first performed at Wharf Theatre on August 8, 1916.

In this drama, there are seven characters. Mr. George Henderson is the County Attorney, Mr. Peters is a Sheriff, Mr. Hale is a farmer in the area, Mrs. Peters is Mr. Peters' wife, and Mrs. Hale is Mr. Hale's wife.

On the stage, all of these figures may be seen. Mr. John Wright and Mrs. John Wright are the major characters off-stage. Mr. John Wright has been slain before the play begins, and Mrs. Wright has been accused of his murder and arrested.

All five characters are present at Mr. John Wright's farmhouse as the play begins. When they enter the kitchen, they see that it is in a state of disarray. Everything in the kitchen is dingy and unused. Mr. Hale discusses the happenings of the previous day. He explains why he came to Mr. Wright's place. He describes Mrs. Wright's uneasiness while sitting in a chair, as well as her knowledge concerning Mr. John Wright's death with a rope around his neck. He even notifies Mr. Henderson of his further actions, which include summoning Mr. Peters to see the deceased corpse.

From the kitchen, Mr. George Henderson continues his inquiry. He mocks Mrs. Wright's ability to locate the glass jar preservatives in the cabinet. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, both women, despise men's ridicule of women. Hearing Mr. Hale's discourse makes them feel terrible. Mrs. Wright's housekeeping abilities are backed up by them. Mr. Henderson gives them permission to collect garments for Mrs. Wright. They begin discussing various tidbits about Mrs. Wright, while the guys look for evidence in other locations. Mrs. Hales tells Mrs. Peters that Mrs. Wright used to be known as Minnie Foster and was a famous singer thirty years ago. 

Mrs. Wright has not killed her husband, according to both ladies. Mrs. Hale sees Mrs. Wright as an innocent lady concerned about the preservatives in her jars. While viewing Mrs. Wright's quilt, both ladies become aware of her uneasiness. They give a lot of thought to Mrs. Wright's motivation for utilizing stitch or knot in the quilt. Men chuckle once again as they hear their conversation about trinkets. Mrs. Peters later discovers a shattered birdcage in the cabinet. 

They talk about the missing bird. Mrs. Wright must have purchased a singing bird from the bird trader, they determine. They discover a lovely red box with a dead canary bird inside. They observe the bird's wrung neck. They link Mr. John Wright's assassination to Canary's death. Necks are a problem in both circumstances. (a wrung neck | a rope around the neck) They discover why a rope was used instead of a pistol. Mrs. Peters' childhood experiences demonstrate her rage and desire for vengeance. In before of her eyes, a boy with a hatchet murdered her pet. If she had the courage, she wanted to injure the boy. She also discusses her difficult period after the loss of her first child. Her experiences reflect vengeance and a difficult time during the absence of her child. 

All of this is linked by both ladies to Mrs. Wright's experiences. Finally, males arrive with no information, but women get complete evidence but stay mute. They conceal Mrs. Wright's red box (clue).

Questions And Answers Of Trifles by Susan Glaspell

Before Reading

Answer these questions:

a. In what ways do societal norms affect you?

Ans. Societal norms are the basis of living in society. Everyone is connected with societal norms. Without societal norms, no one can imagine living their lives in society. Societal norms affect me in the following ways:
  •  I have to follow all these norms.
  • These norms have taught me the ways of living.
  • Societal norms prevent me from doing bad deeds in society.
  • Societal norms have provided me with knowledge related to my culture, tradition and rituals.

b. Are women dominated by men in your society?

Ans. No, women aren't dominated by men in my society. Women are very well treated by men. I find the perfect concept of equality among men and women in my society. Women are given respect and preferences in my society.

c. Are there differences between men and women in how they think, act, communicate, behave and relate to others?

Ans. There are many differences between men and women in how they think, act, communicate, behave and relate to others. These differences are as follows:
  • Women think deeply about trifles whereas men don't.
  • They act a bit slower than the men.
  • They communicate being careful about bad words whereas men don't.
  • They behave and relate to others in a very polite way whereas men can be aggressive sometimes.

Understanding The Text

Answer the following questions:

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

Ans. Yes, I believe that Mrs. Wright killed her husband. I believe her as a murderer after reading the whole play. The deep investigation made by Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters over the trifles of Mrs. Wright has disclosed all the clues which are against Mrs. Wright and proved her as a murderer.

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

Ans. No, I don't think Mr. Wright's death would have been uncovered if Mr. Hale hadn't stopped by the Wright's home. If Mr. Hale hadn't stopped by the Wrights' home, nobody would ever know about Mr. Wright's death. The location of the house was quite far from the road. Nobody had visited this lonesome house for a long time. If Mr. Hale hadn't stopped there to ask for a telephone line, Mr. Wright's dead body would have been decayed in that gloomy house.

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

Ans. Mrs. Hale thinks that Mrs. Wright's worries about her preserves indicate her innocence because she doesn't think Mrs. Wright as a murderer who cares about every tiny thing related to her housekeeping skills. According to her the person who is too much careful about her preserves cannot dare to commit murder. Her carefulness towards her trifles related to housekeeping skills shows her innocence.

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

Ans. Mrs. Peters' homesteading experience connects her to Mrs. Wright in the following manners:

1. She lost her kitten while she was a girl. A boy killed it with a hatchet in front of her eyes. She became quite angry with the boy. A sense of revenge was seen within her against the boy. This experience connects her to Mrs. Wright's revenge against the killer of her canary.

2. She lost her first baby of two years old. She had spent her tough time without her lovable baby. This experience connects her to Mrs. Wright's tough time which she spent without her lovable canary.

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

Ans. Here in this play, we find men's arrogance and dominance. They have shown their hierarchy over women. We find them showy and useless. They ridicule women most of the time. During the investigation, women's perspectives are ridiculed all the time by men. Women's acts and discussions aren't taken seriously by all men. Women's perspectives are taken as trifles by men.

Reference To The Context

Read the extracts 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?

Ans. She refers to Mrs. Wright.

ii. What does the word ‘one’ stand for?

Ans. The word 'one' stands for a bird.

iii. What is the full form of “s’pose”?

Ans. The full form of "s'pose" is "suppose."

iv. What do you mean when Mrs. Hale says, “the cat got it”?

Ans. 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”?

Ans. Mrs. Hale refers to Mrs. Wright as "Minnie Foster" because Mrs. Wright was a very beautiful singer before her marriage. She was known as Minnie Foster who used to wear pretty clothes and sing in the choir.

ii. What does her description tell you about Mrs. Wright?

Ans. Her description tells me that Mrs. Wright was a quite beautiful singer before her marriage. She was known as Minnie Foster who used to sing very beautifully and wear pretty clothes thirty years before.

iii. What does Mrs. Hale mean by “that was thirty years ago”?

Ans. By 'that thirty years ago' Mrs. Hale means the past time while Mrs. Wright was an unmarried and quite famous singer known as Minnie Foster.

c. What is the main theme of the play?

Ans. The main theme of the play is the status of women in contemporary American society and males' dominant nature over women. Apart from this, we find various themes within this play as isolation, loss of identity, revenge and violence, freedom by rebellion.

d. Discuss the symbolism used in the text.

Ans. Symbolism is a literary device that refers to the representation of a concept through symbols or underlying meanings of objects or qualities. Here in this play, we find various things that symbolize varieties of hidden meanings. The symbolism used in the play are as follows:

1. The preservative jars:
The preservative jars in the kitchen are broken due to the cold. These jars symbolize the cold and broken marriage relationship between Mrs. Wright and her husband. Due to their weak relationship, nothing is in a good state.

2. Singing Canary bird:
The singing Canary bird symbolizes the freedom of Mrs. Wright before her marriage. She was just like a canary bird known as Minnie Foster, a popular singer thirty years back.

3. The birdcage:
The birdcage here in this play symbolizes the trapped life of Mrs. Wright after her marriage. Her life remained within the boundaries of her house. Its broken state symbolizes the poor condition of the gloomy house.

4. Wrung neck of canary:
Here, the wrung neck of canary symbolizes the concept of revenge in a tit for tat manner. Mr. Wright has also been murdered with a rope around his neck instead of a gun.

5. Knot in a quilt: 
Mrs. Hale's dialogue as the knot in a quit symbolizes the murder with a rope. The stitches in the particular quilt even symbolize the nervousness of Mrs. Wright.

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

Ans. This play has been set on the abandoned farmhouse of Mr. John Wright. It is a lonesome, gloomy and cold place down in the hollow where the road cannot be seen. Yes, it has an impact on the theme of the play. This setting has presented the lives of contemporary American women who used to live under the obligations of their husbands. They used to live within the boundaries of their houses in isolation and restriction. The setting of the house 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.

Ans. Here in this play, we all readers are directed towards off-stage main character Mrs. Wright through on stage characters like Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. Here, these two on-stage characters keep on discussing and informing us about various aspects of Mrs. Wright's life. Their discussion related to Mrs. Wright while investigating has provided us with various hidden aspects of Mrs. Wright's life. Through women's information, we are able to know about Mrs. Wright's life and sufferings. The readers get emotionally attached to find out about her life's story. Both women and their efforts in describing Mrs. Wright are incredible. Their efforts in the play have helped all the readers to feel good about Mrs. Wright. With the help of these two characters, Mrs. Wright has been presented positively in front of all the readers. Mrs. Wright has got the sympathy of all the readers.

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?

Ans. Dramatic irony is a literary device that has been created when the audience or reader comes to know the things at first that are hidden. Here in the play, the leading characters are unaware of the facts but the readers or audiences get the idea about the facts. Here, in this play, the crucial information related to dramatic irony is that Mrs. Wright has murdered her husband. Here, the readers come to know about the facts behind the murder through Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters but the men characters who seem quite busy in finding the clues are unaware of these facts.

How does the playwright use this information to create dramatic irony?

Ans. To create dramatic irony, the playwright uses this information very tactfully creating various twists, suspense, readers' interest and revelation in a very interesting way. The playwright keeps on presenting information related to murder through predictions and proofs which the characters make and get during the time of investigation to find the actual murderer.

What effect does the dramatic irony have on the audience and on the play?

Ans. Dramatic irony is very well managed and presented by the playwright. It has put the audience and readers above the leading male characters of the play. It has managed all the readers' attention, anticipation, hope, fear, curiosity and suspense. Here, the readers have got the actual information before all male characters of the play. Dramatic irony has made this play very interesting and full of twists where facts are disclosed creating curiosity among the readers.

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