11.07.2019 in Exploratory

Trifles Silenced Canary Essay

Trifles: Symbolism of a silenced canary

Setting is as instrumental to the significance of a part of publications by substantially influencing its outcomes, as are the individual characteristics, issue of outlook, and plot.  The personal and time minutia of the setting becomes connected with standards, ideals, and mind-set of the characters.   The minutia of the setting of Susan Glaspell’s one-act play Trifles provide signs for explaining the murder.  Glaspell values easy but productive components in the setting to conceive suspense as a try is made to explain the secret killing that has appeared on the John and Minnie Wright farm.  Three men and two women are the only individual characteristics that emerge on an easy kitchen stage in the play.  The three men (county advocate, sheriff, and a neighboring farmer) go in and go out some times while considering and looking for clues and motive of the murder.  Meanwhile, the two women (sheriff’s and farmer’s wives) stay on stage, taking observe of and conversing about Mrs. Wright’s “little things” in the kitchen (Glaspell 461) [Page quotations are to Judith Stanford’s Responding to Literature, 4th ed. NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003].  

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The men make lightweight of the little things that the women notice, in specific as to how Mrs. Wright was considering assembling the quilt.  As the women converse and share knowledge of their own and those of Mrs. Wright, they start to pattern a feminine bond.  Upon finding a scruffy birdcage and finally the dead canary, the women nonverbally mutually acquiesce to conceal the clues of the murderer’s motive.  

Glaspell expresses the setting in three realms:  time (era), local (geographical), and domain (kitchen).  Collectively the three setting components depict the standards, ideals, and mind-set of the individual characteristics giving deeper significance to the play’s outcome. The time span in which a part of publications is cast substantially sways the significance of the writing.  Values, ideals, and mind-set of persons change with time and circumstances.  To realize this component of setting is vital to the understanding of activity in literature.  Trifles was released in 1916 and are set throughout the last cited half of the 19th 100 years (Waterman). During this time, women in the United States had not been allocated the right to ballot and furthermore could not sit on juries. Males overridden all facets of life at this time, except for nurturing of the dwelling and children.  


It is furthermore throughout this time span that the woman’s domain is restricted to the dwelling and mainly the kitchen. It is here where she expends most of her time preparing nourishment, boiling water to do laundry, heating scheme her metal to do ironing, seated to do her stitching, and conversing with family constituents as they arrive and go.  It is in the kitchen where the clues of the motive for the killing is discovered – the one location the men not ever enquire – and it is the women who find the clues (the broken birdcage and dead canary).  Thus, the setting component of time span “sets the stage” for the activity of all characters. Glaspell works the activities of the play in powerful compare to the gender worth and mind-set of the day.    

Another facet of time in Trifles is the time of year.  The play takes location throughout winter.  The sheriff remarks that “it fallen underneath none last night” (456).  It was very cold!  The freezing penetrated into the unheated dwelling to the issue that Mrs. Wright’s “fruit; it did freeze” and blew from their containers (458).  What a befitting feeling for the mind-set of the dwelling!  The scribe very cleverly values this setting component to distinguish mind-set of the persons involved.  Similarly, Mr. Wright is recounted as “cold” and “a raw breeze that gets to the bone” (463).

The broken containers of preserves distinguish Mrs. Wright’s preceding state of mind.  The “cold” of her husband’s occurrence infiltrated the house.  The solitude that this initiated, conceived farthest force on Minnie Wright.   The mental anguish outcomes in her brain “cracking up”, symbolized by the cleft jars.  The crop preserves themselves symbolize Minnie.   Just as they get away from the broken jars, when put under force from the freezing, finally Minnie Wright smashed out of her “shell” of isolation upon the death of the one who initiated it – John Wright. One lone bottle stayed unbroken – symbolizing Minnie Wright herself and the one more possibility Minnie had at life (after the death of John Wright).  The cyclic setting of winter powerfully leverages the significance of feature mind-set and events in the play.   The personal setting of a part of publications is as significant, if not more, than the component of time.  Susan Glaspell values a personal setting that corresponds to the cyclic time setting.  Just as she set the play in the rough and “lifeless” very cold natural environment of winter, she furthermore groups the ranch in a “lifeless” and lonesome hollow.  

Again, the setting expresses significance in characterizing the Wrights.  Mrs. Wright’s life was just as “lifeless” and lonesome on her husband’s farm.  Mr. Wright was no business for her.  Since “there’s a large deal of work to be finished on a farm,” (458) “to be sure;” (458) both Mr. and Mrs. Wright put in long days of work – she in the dwelling, and he “out to work all day” (463) on the farm.  Undoubtedly, Mrs. Wright would gaze ahead to her husband’s come back at the end of the day, but no luck – he was “no business when he did arrive in” (463).  Just as she had dreaded that the “fire’d proceed out and her jars would break,” so too had the blaze “gone out” of their wedding ceremony and she would finally shatter from her “frozen” lonesome life.  The solitude of the depression is farther expressed by the neighbors’ attitudes.  Not only did she not have her husband’s companionship, Minnie Wright did not have the companionship of her neighbors.  Mrs. Hale remarks that, “We reside close simultaneously and we reside far apart” (465).  

Mrs. Hale conspicuously dwelled close sufficient to pay a visit, but didn’t – holding herself divided from Mrs. Wright.  “I might have renowned she required help!  I could’ve come,” said Mrs. Hale (465).  Why didn’t Mrs. Hale visit Minnie Wright, particularly if she supposed that Minnie “might have… required help” (465)?  Again the setting works out the answer.  Mrs. Hale responses by saying, “because it’s down in a depression and you don’t glimpse the road” (463).  Does this sound isolated and lonesome?  Exactly, expressing Mrs. Hale’s extending remarks, “it’s a lonesome location and habitually was” (463).  Cheerful?  “No—it’s not cheerful” (459). Glaspell values the freezing and barren setting to correlate with another solitude that Minnie Wright had and that is the barrenness of the womb.  She had no children.  That too makes for a lonesome and “quiet house” (463).  Why were there no young children in the home?  Did Mr. Wright not desire them?  He had said, “folks conversed too much” (456).  “All he inquired was calm and quiet,” “yet you understand how much he conversed himself” (456).  Did he desire to do all the conversing, thereby being in control?  Mr. Hale said that he “didn’t understand as what his wife liked made much distinction to John” Wright (456).  In such emptiness of human companionship and calm, “I should believe she would liked a bird” (463).  The bird was a “child-substitute for the solitary Minnie; the canary’s voice was to replace the quiet of a frigidly authoritarian married man and restore the noise of the unborn children” (Makowsky 62).  Now that “the bird was still,” “it would be awful—still” (465).

Winter has calm about it that jump does not have.  In jump the woods resonate with vocalizing birds, depicted in Trifles as Minnie Foster when she sang in the place of adoration choir.  Now her life is still – still as winter with its freezing that chills to the bone.  Once more Susan Glaspell has associated setting to the mind-set of her individual characteristics to make deeper the effect of significance in the play. Even more spoke than the time setting and the personal setting of the ranch is the use of a kitchen as a stage setting.  Glaspell values the kitchen setting to accentuate the worth scheme of mind-set in the direction of the genders.  The kitchen is the household domain – the location where women of this time expended most of their time. Mrs. Wright, herself, most expected expended most of her time here as well.  The scribe expresses this gender function by having the two women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, stay on the stage (in the kitchen) through the course of the play.  The kitchen setting actions as a cage for Minnie Wright.  It is here that she is tricked by her commanding married man, John Wright, and isolated from the world.  This is farther symbolized by the canary in its cage. The characteristics granted to the kitchen by Glaspell give farther significance to the play, therefore assisting to explain the killing mystery.  

The kitchen view is characterized as “gloomy” (455).  Doesn’t this sound familiar?  Doesn’t this correlate with the setting of the ranch “down in a hollow” (463) where “it not ever seemed…very cheerful” (459).  The scribe carries the feeling into the kitchen furthermore, thereby imitating the “deadness” to permeate right into Minnie Wright’s world.  The view is furthermore distinguished as being “left without having been put in order” and “other indications of incompleted work”—“unwashed pots under the go under, a loaf of baked bread out-of-doors the baked bread carton, a dish-towel on the table” (455).  What is being expressed by the kitchen setting of “work halted in its tracks?”   Susan Glaspell values the setting of Trifles very artistically in expressing significance to the play. She values easy but productive components in try to explain the killing mystery.  The scribe starts by setting up the general components that in turn set up the standards and ideals of the characters.  As the play progresses, Glaspell discloses more exact components of setting that express more exact mind-set of the characters. Collectively, all of these supply deeper significance to the part of literature. The time span sways the standards of the characters; the cyclic and lonesome ranch setting presents “atmosphere” to the setting and phases the characters’ attitudes; and the stage setting of the kitchen groups the stage for the unraveling of the secret of the murder.  All of these components of setting exactly assist to the significance and conclusion of the play.

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