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January 31, 2006

A trifle difficult to believe.

Glaspell, ''Trifles'' (1916) -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)

"Like a raw wind that gets to the bone."
(Mrs. Hale: lines 103)

That image, perhaps more than any other description of Mr. Wright really puts into focus the absolute abrasiveness he must have embodied.

I guess one could also point out that over time, Wright wrung the life out of his wife as he did with the canary she cherished. So she ended his life in a similar manner.

The damaged bird cage, while a piece of evidence, was perhaps symbolic of the fact Mrs. Wright was now free of the cage in which her husband had placed her.

On the other hand, my first reaction after reading the play was:

How could two women, uninvolved in this crime, find themselves sympathizing with a person they knew committed murder and then tampered with evidence and hindered an investigation? And one of them was the sheriff's wife!

Were I watching this performed on a stage, I'm sure I would enjoy it, but at the expense of making a pun, the turn of events left too many loose ends to tie up.

I liked the way Gladspell left the ending to chance, but to me, there were just too many unrealistic events for me to believe this could actually take place.

If Mrs. Wright ever gives a confession, then the trail of compromised evidence would seemingly lead back to Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters.

Posted by MattHampton at January 31, 2006 10:18 PM


The evidence the women found supported Mrs. Wright's motive to kill her husband, but I'm not sure the men would have been convinced of this. A dead bird and funny stitching on her quilt don't exactly point to murder. For the women, these things pointed to Mrs. Wright's state of mind, but they had to pull meaning from them to come to this conclusion. They assumed Mr. Wright killed the bird and that he was not the most loving husband, but Gaspell leaves us wondering if this in fact was the case.

Posted by: Jennifer DiFulvio at January 31, 2006 10:29 PM

I know -- it was the bird that killed him!

It held the rope in its cheerful little beak, and... uh... nevermind.

Seriously, you've found a line that indicates the level of suffering in Minnie's life, which is dull and aching, at least up to the point where Wright apparently killed the bird, when it suddenly becomes sharp and focused.

The women act pretty decisively on the assumption that Wright did kill the bird. There's really no evidence in the play that points to an alternative explanation of the bird's death.

But there is plenty of room for discussion. Does the play itself seem to pass judgment on the women's decision to conceal the evidence? Do you think they were morally justified in doing so?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 31, 2006 11:05 PM

That's true. There is no evidence that Wright actually killed the bird. It is Mrs. Hale who is convinced:

Mrs. Hale: ... No, Wright wouldn't like the bird-a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.
Mrs. Peters: We don't know who killed the bird.
Mrs. Hale: I knew John Wright.

A play on words perhaps: I knew John (Right).

Another interesting bit of dialogue though I haven't lit upon a meaning:

Attorney: Well, that's interesting, I'm sure. Has the bird flown?
Mrs. Hale: We think the - cat got it.
Attorney: Is there a cat?
Mrs. Peters: Well, not now. They're superstitious, you know. They leave.

Posted by: MattHampton at January 31, 2006 11:59 PM

Regarding names -- Certainly "Minnie" == "mini" emphasizing the lessening of this particular woman. But would you take it further? Is it true that Minnie "Fosters" something or other? Is Mrs. Hale hale and hearty? Is it true that the resolve of Mrs. Peters peters out?

If Minnie's name had been "Birdie" "Tweetie" that would have been way too obvious!

I've got an idea about the cat, but I think I'd rather hear what other folks say.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 1, 2006 12:32 AM

I think the cat is definately Wright, because I think there is evidence that he killed the bird. There are only two people living in the house and Mrs. Wright wouldn't have killed the bird. Or possibly she may have been an extremely, brillant criminal mind and killed the bird in practice of killing Mr. Wright. The world will never know.

Posted by: Sean Runt at February 1, 2006 11:09 AM

I think the ladies justified themselves for covering up the evidence because they believed that Mrs. Wright murdered Mr. Wright...They justify not revealing the evidence because one she is a lady and two the women have seemes to be annoyed and angered by the men's comments of their wondering over the quilt...It is almost like If they hide the evidence, they are in the superior position and the men do not know it...that is something for the women to laugh about back at the men.

I too also thought that Mr. Wright could have killed the bird...but the birds neck was wrung like the Mr.'s. Was the Mrs.'s practicing? Or did she use the same method that her husband did to kill the bird on him creating irony? What comes around goes around.

Posted by: TerraStumpf at February 1, 2006 03:58 PM

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