Read Trifles by Susan Glaspell, pp. 1155 – 1177
On the surface, this looks like a murder mystery. But during the course of the play itself, a very different sort of crime is committed, allowing readers to contemplate justice and injustice.
Refer back to the More Practice, Reading a Play assignment page in this module for additional instructions and grading information.
Discussion Prompt (s): Choose only one of the questions below to answer. Choose either #1 or #2 below to answer).
#1. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Peters is more concerned than Mrs. Hale with the legalities of the case, and—at least in the first part of the play—she defends the men from Mrs. Hale’s criticism by observing that what they are doing is “no more than their duty.” Mrs. Hale, the Wrights’ neighbor, appears more sympathetic to Mrs. Wright’s situation and more aggressive in criticizing the men’s behavior. Why might Glaspell make the women different in these ways? How do their differences contribute to the conflict of the play? to its resolution? (200 – 300 words)
#2. How broadly should Mrs. Hale mark her discovery in terms of vocal expression, gesture, facial expression? What should Mrs. Peters be doing at the time of the discovery? Should she be still? Should she be upstage or downstage? How distracting would it be to the audience if Mrs. Peters were moving busily downstage during Mrs. Hale’s discovery? That is, how do you make sure the audience has its eyes on Mrs. Hale when she registers the significance of the half-dirty table and the misplaced bread? [This would be a good point at which to discuss what lighting can do.] (200 – 300 words).