Susan Glaspell was a novelist and playwright during the “first wave” of the feminist movement. Although the movement was initially concerned with Suffrage, later waves dealt with “inequality of laws, as well as cultural inequalities” (Wikipedia). In her one-act play, “Trifles”, Glaspell planted the seeds of the modern feminist movement with regards to domestic violence.
In order to better understand the author’s purpose and the argument she was trying to make with this story we can look at it from the psychological critical perspective. This will give us an understanding of the motives and behaviors of the author and her literary characters.
Susan Keating Glaspell (1882-1948), as cofounder of an influential theatrical company, had a great outlet to explore and promote controversial socialist and feminist issues. Residing in Greenwich Village, she was surrounded by activists, and was herself a founding member of a radical feminist group. When Glaspell married George Cook, she was ironically thrust into traditional gender roles. Cook was often hard to live with because of his excessive drinking and numerous affairs. It is possible that Glaspell projected her anger over her husband into her characters. Combined with this environment, the specific idea for “Trifles” came from a real murder trial that she was assigned to cover as a newspaper reporter in Iowa. (Evans)
The protagonist of this story, although not present in the action of the play, seems in part to be Minnie Wright, a farmer’s wife, who is accused of murdering him with a rope around his neck while he slept. This one-act play takes place in the kitchen of the Wrights’ home during the murder investigation. The initial setting, which is described as “gloomy” (Glaspell 1858) and very cold, is perhaps representative of the Wright’s marriage. It is quickly apparent that Mrs. Wright is the primary suspect having already been taken to the jail. The plot turns to discovering a motive for the...