Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” is a play about a real life murder case that uses symbolism to help bring it to a close. It is easy to see that Mr. and Mrs. Wright live in a society that is cut off from the outside world and also strongly separated by gender.
Three of the key symbols in Glaspell’s play are a simple bird cage, a quilt, and isolationism. Anna Uong of Virginia Tech and Karen Shelton of JSR CC share these same ideas on symbolism. These three symbols are the main clues that help the reader decide who killed Mr. Wright.
The bird cage that was found is one of the most profound symbols in the story. Mrs. Hale describes Minnie as, “kind of like a bird herself, real sweet and pretty but kind of timid and fluttery” (841).
The bird and Minnie are similar because they are both caged in. When Mrs. Hale and Mrs.
Peters find the broken birdcage, they think nothing of it until they discover the bird. He was found wrapped in a cloth inside of a small box, with his neck wrung. “Mrs. Wright wrapped the dead bird in a silk cloth and placed it inside a fancy box; this symbolizes her cherishing of her past life.” (Uong, 1) When John strangles the life out of Minnie’s bird, he also strangles the life out of Minnie.
The broken birdcage that was found represents Minnie’s liberation from John. Just like the bird, Minnie has now freed herself from John by killing him. The second symbol that ties the story together is the quilt, which was symbolic of Minnie’s life. The quilt that Minnie was working on at the time of her husbands death is almost perfect, except for the most recently sewn block. It is said to be “All over the place as if she didn’t know what she was about,” states Mrs. Hale” (840).
"Whistling of Birds" by David Herbert Lawrence is a depiction of the vividness of his writings and his own artistic vision and thought. In this essay he has elucidated the change of seasons- change from winter to spring- in an impressive way by the use of images, similes and metaphors... Winter, as he narrates, brings woe and causes wreck. The intense frost that sustained for several weeks caused ...
This is another clue into how enraged and flustered Minnie was. Minnie’s last straw was when John killed her bird. When the bird died, so did Minnie’s personality. After that murder, Minnie was enraged, confused, and didn’t know what to do. Mrs. Hale wondered “if she was go in’ to quilt it or knot it” (840).
By quilting the blanket, she would have chosen to endure the pain that John was putting her through, but by knotting the quilt she chose to eliminate it. Just as a knot represents a finishing or a completion of a project, it also was an end to John. The weaving of the quilt also symbolizes the building up of the marriage and then the end of it. “The quilt started out as a beautiful piece of art and was brought to a close by a couple of sloppy stitches and knots” (Uong).
Just like the Wright’s marriage, the quilt was beautiful until the end where everything was simply a mess. Isolationism also plays a very important role in the story. The Wright’s farmhouse is located in a hallow, in the woods. This sets her in a secluded place away from most civilisation. The Wright’s didn’t even have a phone in their house to be able to call anyone.
Mr. Hale came to talk to Mr. Wright about a phone a few times but, “he put me off, saying folks talked too much anyway… .” (Glaspell, p. 835).
This is an example of how Mr.
Wright did not want him or his wife to have regular contact with anyone in town, which is another part of John sheltering Minnie and not letting her live her life. This is why Minnie’s bird was so important to her. “It was the only normality to the outside world she had, and Mr. Wright had taken that away from her” (Shelton).
When John finally killed the bird, he also killed a part of Minnie. Symbolism plays a big role in Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles.” Symbolism is what helps the reader decipher who killed Mr.
Minnie Wright represents the focal point in the short story, and the image that best reveals her character is that of a bird in a cage. By comparing Minnie to a bird locked in a cage, the author manages to convey to the reader her feelings of hopelessness, dispair, and a longing to be free again. Before she married John Wright, she was Minnie Foster, a cheerful, beautiful and carefree young lady ...
Wright. Glaspell uses a dead bird with it ” stage, a quilt, and isolationism to create a motive in the mind of the reader. The Minnie herself and how she was suppressed and literally murdered. The quilt symbolized Minnie’s life and her choices about her husband; and finally the isolationism of Minnie gives her a good motive and reason to want to be free from her husband.
Glaspell’s use of symbolism gets the reader involved in the play and requires the reader to piece together this puzzle of a murder. This play has lots of symbolism in it which allows the reader to imagine the story in any way that they would like to. This story would be wonderful to teach in any classroom because it ” sa good story and has some good meanings to it.