Action Analysis of 'Trifles' by Susan Glaspell

This analysis will contain spoilers for the play 'Trifles' by Susan Glaspell. To read the play, please click here.

Review of the Facts

Mrs. Hale – wife of Mr. Hale, friend to Minnie Foster (Wright), neighbor to the Wrights.

Mrs. Peters – wife of the sheriff, new to the town (by sounds of it).

Lewis Hale – husband of Mrs. Hale, neighbor to the Wrights.

Henry Peters (sheriff) – husband of Mrs. Peters, sheriff who is investigating the murder.

Mr. Wright – deceased husband of Minnie Foster (Wright), an asshole.

Mrs. Wright (Minnie Foster) – widow of Mr. Wright, used to sing in choir, no children.

George Henderson (county attorney) – young male who is helping in the investigation of Mr. Wright’s murder.

Winter (below zero).

Isolated farmhouse (couldn’t see the road).

Seed: Gender inequality.

Theme: Women’s roles in a male-dominated society.

Chain of Events

External: Mrs. Peters mentioned that Minnie Wright was worried about the canning jars of fruit exploding when it was cold.

Internal: Mr. Hale said that women wore over unimportant matters (‘trifles’).

External: The men accuse Minnie Wright of being a poor housekeeper.

Internal: Mrs. Hale is very upset by this, and starts to defend Minnie.

External: Mrs. Peters starts to grab Minnie’s clothing to take to her in jail.

Internal: Mrs. Hale starts to realize that Minnie didn’t have much for herself, even her clothing looked “shabby”.

External: The women talk about the way that John Wright was murdered.

Internal: Mrs. Hale doesn’t think that Minnie committed the murder.

External: The men laugh at the women when they find the pieces for a quilt.

Internal: Both women are abashed by the men’s laughter.

External: Mrs. Peters finds the bird-cage.

Internal: Mrs. Hale remembered how beautiful Minnie used to sing.

External: The women find the dead bird.

Internal: Mrs. Hale realizes what Mr. Wright did to his wife, and she feels remorse for not visiting Minnie all those years.

External: Mr. Henderson stated that they needed a motive to get a conviction for Minnie Wright.

Internal: Both women felt regret for what happened to Minnie, so they hid the bird from the men.

Three Major Climaxes

1.Mr. Hale calling the women’s concerns ‘trifles.’

2.The women find the dead bird.

3.The women hide the dead bird.

Super-objective: Mrs. Hale’s desire for equality.

Through-action: A farmer’s wife defends a neighbor from the law while looking for evidence to a murder.

Counter through-action: A farmer belittles what women think as significant matters as mere ‘trifles.’

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Kyleen McHenry

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