Trifles, an intriguing play authored by Susan Glaspell is an embodiment of various societal ills that people commit against those close to them. On the larger picture, it goes beyond a simple family setup, to encompass an entire fabric of the manner in which people co-exist in a community. As is clearly manifested in the grotesque murder of Mr. Wright, this play tends to shed light even to the simplest trivia of life, and introduces a wider picture that calls for a more practical embrace. This paper proceeds to analyze the theme of revenge as is vividly depicted in the various instances of the play, using the murder of Mr. Wright as a foundation.
In the play, Mr. Wright is depicted as having been a very mean man, who does not about his family; and who obviously manifested his chauvinistic traits. As the play opens, it introduces us to the sorry state of Mr. Wright’s house, “…a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order—unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel on the table…” (Glaspell 1). This state of affairs at the farmhouse clearly shows that Mrs. Wright had no interest of attending to her domestic chores, since her husband is made to appear as equally careless, and non-appreciative.
On very significant act by Mr. Wright forms the centerpiece of the theme of revenge in this play. Earlier, the man had wrung the neck of a canary that his wife had inherited and kept closely at a cage. This bird had deep sentimental meaning to Mrs. Wright, who had wanted to use it to brighten her rather dreary life (11). When her husband, in unexplainable act, takes this away from her, she develops deep sorrow and loathing towards him. Moreover, the fact that she had sought solace from a bird signifies that her husband had totally no effect and place in her life, thus, it is clear as to what she gives priority. As a result of this, Mrs. Wright holds the justification to seek revenge, and later brings this bizarre desire to reality when she wrings her husband in the neck. The cruelty of this act is further exemplified when the opinion of Mrs. Wright is sought regarding the murder of her husband by the sheriff. She answers, “he died of a rope round his neck” (Glaspell 2). This response is a confirmation that Millie was never forced into committing the heinous act, rather, she succumbed to her patronizing spirit to satisfy her spirit of revenge. Logically, one could argue that the acts of Mr. Wright against her family might have attracted the end he suffered, but, ethically, no ill could ever be justified by perpetrating another ill.
Lastly, Mrs. Wright, as well as other women in the play, are in support of the deserved end of Mr. Wright, terming it a payoff for all the injustices to which the womenfolk are subjected. The title itself, Trifles, could be interpreted to mean that women have been treated as lesser people in the society, as trifles. Moreover, they, as Mrs. Wright, do not feel appreciated, loved, and cared for (3). Thus, this begets an overarching hatred against the entire menfolk, and she decides to use her husband as the sacrificial lamb to avenge all these ills.
From the arguments advanced herein, it suffices to conclude that Trifles is a play that ably manifests the theme of revenge. This is particularly evidenced in the heinous act committed by Mrs. Wright against her husband.
Glaspell Susan. Trifles. New York: Pearson Publishers, 1916. Print
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles: A Play in One Act. Charlottesville, Va: University of Virginia Library, 1996. Internet resource.