Saturday, November 2, 2013

Playwright (Susan Glaspell)

Susan Glaspell (Source:


An award-winning American playwright, actress, novelist and journalist, Susan Glaspell was an Iowan born. Davenport to be precised. She was born on 1h of July 1876. Susan Glaspell was awarded the Pulitzer Award for her drama. Also known for her feminist view, she is one of the most significant figure of the American female playwrights. Her most known feminist work called 'Trifles' is one of the example of her feminist views.

As a child, Susan Glaspell received her early education in the Davenport Public school and surely enough, she was one of the best student there was in her school. She eventually attended Drake University at the age of 21. After her graduation, she work as a full-time reporter for a newspaper company.

Her works mostly influenced by her place of birth and stories told by her grandmother. Susan Glaspell was married to George Cram Cook, a poet, novelist, professor and a farmer, who was also the man responsible for some of her works. She was awarded the Pulitzer Award for Drama for her play 'Alison's House'. She died at the age of 72 on 27th July 1948. Below are some of her well-known and amazing other works: -

- Trifles (A Jury of Her Peers) 1917
- The Outside (1917)
- Alison's House (1930)

- Fidelity (1915)
- The Morning Is Near Us (1939)

Short Stories
- A Jury of Her Peers (1917)
- The Road to the Temple (1926)

 I have chosen 'Trifles' for this blog simply because I found this drama/short story to be rather interesting and shows the feminist side of Susan Glaspell. And to be frank, I am familiar with the text. Below is the summary of the story:-


 Trifles tells the audience about a murder case happened in a house presumably in a rural area as suggested  in the story (barn, few telephone service, etc). The story itself sets in the kitchen of a house where Mr. Wright (the victim) was killed. His wife, Minnie/Mrs Wright was arrested as one of the suspects. The story started when Mr. Hale, neighbor came for a visit to make a phone call. When Mr. Hale got inside the house and asked for Mr. Wright from Mannie, she said he has died. A sheriff and a county attorney were called to solve the case. Along with them, the sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peter and the Mrs Hale the wife of the neighbor.

While the men investigated the house, the women sat in the kitchen. The men often criticized the women whether it is about Minnie or women society as a whole such as the poor homemaking skills of Mannie to the things Mrs Peter and Mrs Hale have picked up and said. The men effort in finding the evidence proved to be fruitless while the ladies have found vital clues and evidence that lead to the case such as the preserves fruits, bread outside the box, the nervously sewn quilt, empty and busted bird cage, etc. The ladies decided not to tell the men about their findings. 


The story is clearly a mock for the men and shows the audience the what women are capable of. This is shown in the efforts of the men solving the case where their search came to nothing whereas the women (Mrs Peter and Mrs Hale) solved the case just by sitting in kitchen. The men (Sheriff and County Attorney) found nothing in the kitchen as shown in this evidence, "Nothing here but kitchen things". This sentence shows that the men are degrading the women as kitchen utensils are synonyms to the women. Just like the men overlooked everything in the kitchen, it can be equalized on how the men see the women in this story.

The birdcage and the bird symbolized both Minnie's freedom and her old self. The birdcage symbolized the life that she is currently living in (her marriage) and the bird is her old self where the text stated that she was once a lively woman with beautiful voice just like the bird. When Mr. Wright killed the bird, he actually 'killed' a part of Minnie. Little that Mr. Wright know, Minnie could have taken his action as the last straw and decided to take his life as well. Although it was never mentioned who was the murderer in the story, the clues/evidence found in the story suggested Minnie had a strong motive to commit the murder.  

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