September 22, 2004

Response to "Trifles"

Unfortunately, the majority of the opening of Trifles was already analyzed in our lecture with Professer K., so I don't know how much I can conjecture without repeating what's already been said. However, in thinking about the play, I keep coming back to my CIS Lit class, where we analyzed pieces of prose very similar to the way we're analyzing plays here. Many of the issues we struggled to grasp then I can see in Trifles - themes such as the importance of storytelling, what is truth, and this recurring idea of community. I think the idea of truth comes up in how each of the genders views the situation. The Sheriff and the County Attorney wish for nothing more than concrete facts, without any thought given to motive or the human emotions behind the crime. This is seen as the two walk in and "go at once to the stove." The men are operating only on the physical level, as they both satisfy their physical desires first (warming themselves by the fire) and search only for physical evidence. Throughout the play it seems as though if the men were confronted with the evidence that the women found, they wouldn't have had enough insight to connect it to the crime. The women, on the other hand, were far less definate in their movements, as they sort of hovered near the door. From reading the stage directions, we can see that these two women are very much affected by what has happened, and this impact has caused them to see the world differently. Their response is somewhat similar to Boal's idea of theatre, and how it should affect people. This makes me think that perhaps Susan Glaspell subscribes to Boal's version of theatre, and encompasses that sort of reaction in the heroines of her play.

The unkempt appearance of the farmhouse adds an unsettling element to the stage before the action begins, and I think that the entrances of the characters also reflect some more about the play. Since the audience doesn't know why the house looks out of order, they will be wanting to solve the mystery when the characters arrive. The men seem not even to notice the room's appearance, but the women observe and react to it, so right from the beginning the audience can identify with the two women as the protagonists. While reading the opening stage directions, I got the impression that the men were intruding, that they were impolitely barging in on someone's incompleted and private work. This feeling consequently sets the men up as antagonists, in a way, and since the half-finished work was most likely Mrs. Wright's doing, they are set up as counters to her character, which becomes much more clear later in the play. The two women show proper respect and anxiety at entering the house, and thus, they later become Mrs. Wright's allies.

Posted by holm0567 at September 22, 2004 9:45 PM