Susan Glaspell was part of a group of artists and thinkers devoted to a broad range of progressive causes, such as feminism, socialism, Darwinism, and legal reform. She and her husband, George Cram Cook, founded the Provincetown Players, a theater group committed to transforming American theater from mere entertainment into an artistic medium in which serious social issues could be treated realistically. The group was crucial in establishing American drama. In addition to Glaspell’s work, the Players produced work by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Eugene O’Neill. Glaspell wrote several plays for the company, but Trifles is the best known and helped introduce the use of expressionist technique to the American stage.
Trifles is also important for its place in Glaspell’s individual career and for its place in American theater history. While writing for newspapers in her native Iowa, Susan Glaspell covered a murder trial in which a wife killed her husband. This trial became the basis not only of Trifles, but also of A Jury of Her Peers (1927), the story version of the play. Clearly, this story haunted Glaspell, and understanding this play is central to understanding Glaspell’s career as a dramatist. Her deep involvement in the play’s topic led her to play Mrs. Hale (her husband played Mr. Hale) in the original production.
Trifles demonstrated that the emerging popular genre of detective fiction could be used for higher artistic aims. Glaspell achieved this in part by the technical perfection of the play: Trifles is one of the classics of the one-act form. It is economically written, something not always true of Glaspell’s later work, even of Alison’s House (pr., pb. 1930), the play that earned for Glaspell the 1931 Pulitzer Prize. Trifles also introduces a technique that Glaspell reuses in other plays: The pivotal character never appears onstage. Trifles is the first major work of feminist theater written by an American playwright. It was well known when it was first performed, playing successfully throughout the United States and Europe, but was not performed as often during the middle of the twentieth century. Some critics argue that this absence indicates the way that women have traditionally been eclipsed on the American stage. However, with the emergence of a feminist consciousness late in the twentieth century, Trifles once again received the attention it so richly deserves.
Irony of Small Trifles Essay
1190 Words5 Pages
Irony of Small Trifles
In the drama Trifles, Glaspell shows two main view points. That is how the men have the role of being the head of everything and how the women do not get as fairly treated and are only house maids to the men. She characterizes the men as not giving the women the credit they deserve for their hard labors each and everyday. The sheriff, attorney, and neighboring farmer help prove how in the past men were completely superior to women. By showing these two points it makes us feel more sympathetic for the women because of how they are treated. The women always have to go along with what the men tell them, even if they disagree. Since the men are distinguished from the women, the women form their own…show more content…
As he says this all the men laugh. Later on as the men come back from getting the fire wood, the attorney also says “Well, ladies, have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?” (1255) So the men must think the women are insignificant because they still think they are really discussing this subject. The only male in this story that does not seem to feel any hierarchy over the women is the neighboring farmer. He keeps to himself most of the time and does not really take part in putting down the women with their own ways. He does state one remark though that shows he still thinks a little more of himself than of the women. When the women said how Mrs. Wright was worried about her preserves. The sheriff states, “Well, you can beat a women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves.” (1251) And Mr. Hale follows saying “Well, women are use to worrying about trifles.” (1251) Meaning how women worry to much about unimportant things. This making the women seem even more insignificant and useless in dealing with the case.
The other view that Glaspell shows in this play is a sympathy that the reader grows for the women. How they are forced to follow the men. Like when they are asked to get close to the fire, they do it even though Mrs. Peters