Symbolism in Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

Essay by captainoats17College, UndergraduateA, October 2007

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In Susan Glaspell's play "Trifles," a tragic story concerning the investigation of a husband's mysterious death, symbolism can be found within the context of the play. The play presents factors that obtain more meaning than meets the eye. Items such as the canary who lives in a cage, the dilapidated rocking chair, and the cherry preserves are devices, which have a significant importance in supporting the idea conveyed through the play. Although Mrs. Wright is not witnessed in the play, "Trifles" presents an array of contextual symbolism, which characterizes her but also portray her reality, the life she lives, and the story itself.

The canary and its cage are symbolic of both Mrs. Wright and her life. The bird directly represents Mrs. Wright in the way that she has been forced to live. The cage symbolizes her life in the way that it restricts canary held captive inside.

This connection is evident when Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the canary. Upon this finding Mrs. Hale relates the bird to Mrs. Wright by stating, "She-come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself-real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and-fluttery" (1:1:107). It can be seen here that apparently Minnie Foster was a different woman once she was married to John Wright. Before their marriage, she was a girl who sang in the choir and wore attractive clothing. The canary, like Minnie Foster, sang beautifully and was incredibly lively. However, following her marriage to John Wright, she was forced to live a life comparable to that of the caged bird. Her freedom of the outside world was revoked and she had to live a life of seclusion.

Similarly, the cherry preserves can be found as a symbol of Mrs. Wright and her...