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English II (ENC 1102) Trifles Symbolism

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Sandra Watson
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Seminole State College of Florida

English II (ENC 1102)

Trifles: What are the different symbols in Trifles and what do they mean?

The play, “Trifles”, takes place in a farmhouse on a cold winter day in the 1910s.
Differing from a traditional murder story, there is not much focus on who committed the crime.
It is made clear Mrs. Wright is the one who killed John Wright. The story focuses on why the
crime was committed. Two men investigate the house for clues, but, it ends up being the two
women present who solve the crime. They find all sorts of clues the men consider “trifle” but,
the last one allows them to put all the pieces together. The women discover Mrs. Wright’s dead
pet canary and conclude Mr. Wright must have killed it and that this was the last straw for Mrs.
Wright. She could not endure the emotional abuse and neglectfulness of Mr. Wright any longer
and so she killed him. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters decide to protect Mrs. Wright and hide the
evidence, knowing the men would use the dead bird to convict Mrs. Wright. The main theme of
this play is the difference between men and women. The women discover the whole picture of
the murder because they pay attention to things the men consider to be “trifle”. The symbols in
“Trifles” of the dead canary in the broken birdcage, the poorly sewn quilt, and the broken fruit
jars all relate to Minnie Wright and her emotional state.

 

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English II (ENC 1102) Trifles Symbolism

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