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Susan Glaspell


  1. Trifles is ostensibly dominated or controlled by the males in the play (even though, on a different level, the women are really calling the shots [or should we say, "are wearing the breeches"?]). Identify the gender assumptions of the male characters in the play and describe their "maleness."
  2. Trace in detail the relationship between the (three) women in the play, beginning with the opening stage description. What inferences can you make about the relationship between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters? How do they relate to one another at the beginning, in the middle, and toward the end? How does Minnie Wright fit into all this?
  3. Discuss the importance of the title of the play? What does "trifles" really mean? Who uses the term, or a similar one, to describe what? In what sense do trifles relate to the "evidence" the men are after?
  4. The symbols in Trifles are particularly suggestive. What symbols can you identify in the play (such as the obvious bird for example)? What might they suggest about the events in the play and about the social expectations of women and men at the time? Why would Glaspell choose these symbols over others?
  5. How does Glaspell establish the frontier setting in Trifles? Why would she locate the play in the West rather than, say, metropolitan New York?

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Weber – The Contemporary West
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Michael Wutz, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor
Editor, Weber - The Contemporary West
Department of English, 1404 University Circle
Weber State University
Ogden, UT 84404-1404 USA