If You're a Bird, I'm a Bird...

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Mrs. Hale- She- come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself- real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and fluttery. How- she- did- change. (398)

How would you feel if every means you had for enjoyment and happiness were taken away? I had to ask myself this question as I read Trifles. The play is absolutely stuffed with deeper meanings and almost guarantees analysis. Even before the aforementioned line is stated in the script, I began to come to this conclusion- Mrs. Wright is like a caged bird in her own way.

First, I noticed the double meaning in Wright's name. I do not know if it was intentional on the part of Glaspell, but Mrs. Wright's name immediately brought to mind the fathers of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright, who made the first sustained flight in 1903. Historically, this makes perfect sense- Glaspell, who wrote Trifles in 1916, may have intentionally wanted her readers (or viewers) to associate Mrs. Wright with flight (and later on- the flight of a bird).

Additionally, I found it coincidental that Attorney Mr. Henderson, when examining Mrs. Wright's kitchen, stated that he "shouldn't say she had the homemaking instinct" (395). The "homemaking instinct" is a man-made "instinct," and is had by all women at that time. By stating that Wright lacked this instict, Henderson is suggesting that Wright posessed an opposite instinct, an animal instinct that identifies her more with a bird than with the human housewives with which she associates.

Finally, it was clearly evident that Mrs. Wright attempts to live a creative and unstifled life through the musicality of her canary. When Mr. Wright, whose harsh and unbending nature is detailed in the very beginning of the play ("all he asked was peace and quiet" (393).), kills the canary, it is symbolic of Mr. Wright killing a part of his wife, as well. In order to seek revenge for this cruel act, Mrs. Wright utilizes one of her only remaining means of creativity, a quilting knot. She kills her husband, avenging not only one death, but two. 


Cody Naylor said:

Indeed, Jessica, Mrs. Wright's character is like a caged bird in this play. And so, in keeping with my view of feminism being a major part of the author's intentions of writing this play, I could go on to talk about how Mrs. Wright may represent all the women who feel oppressed during the author's time and how, eventually, their cage doors are going to be unhinged if they can ever band together... but I won't ;)BTW: I like how you pointed out how Mrs. Wright lived vicariously through her canary since she couldn't sing anymore around her husband... what would WE do if we couldn't sing?!

Josie Rush said:

And, following the "Mrs. Wright is the canary" line of thought, we could say that, in regards to the murder of her husband, Mrs. Wright actually "killed him back." She was avenging her own death.

Jessie Krehlik said:

I really liked your connection to the Wright brothers. I would have never made that connection on my own. It really helps tie in the theme, don't you think? She longs for the freedom that those men found in their small planes.

ps. Nice "Notebook" reference with your title :-)

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

(I knew you'd like the reference lol)

I don't know when that occurred to me, but that thought basically introduced the theme to me. Once I realized that Glaspell could have been referring to the Wright brothers, everything else just sorta fell into place.

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

That thought occurred to me, too. She was avenging her own death because she may have been afraid that no one else would notice or care to?

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

So... Cody. You're saying that the unhinging (is that a word?) of the "cage door," or caged domestic life, is any instance that a woman exhibits some sort of freedom?

Cody Naylor said:

Yes? At least in this play and because that is just the sense I got while reading it.

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