A Comparison of Susan Glaspell's Short Story and Play Trifle

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Susan Glaspell is the writer of A Jury of Her Peers and the play of Trifle, and in both works, she tries to show how women were segregated in early 1900. The setting of both the short story and the play is in a town in the early 20th century and is based on an investigation that seeks to unveil who killed Mr. Wright and for what reason.  Although these two works of Susan have a lot of similarities, they also have some differences between them.

The Trifle and A Jury of Her Peers are similar in almost all aspect as they both focus on the same central problem of the murder of Mr. Wright. The story starts with Mrs. Hale planning to go to Wright’s place with Sheriff Peter and her wife, Mrs. Peter.  In both works, Susan shows her audience how vital the evidence Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peter are withholding is to the process of accusing Mrs. Wright for the murder of her husband.  The two women discover the motive why Minnie killed John Wright, but they decide to withhold the evidence to save her.

In both, the story and the play, the sheriff, John Hale, and the county attorney are actively looking for the clues to whom and why John Wright was murdered. Similarly, the author maintained the same names of the characters while rewriting her play into a narrative. The characters continued to bond on behalf of Mrs. Wright while maintaining a higher level of formality, and this is evident when they call each other using their formal marriage names like Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale. 

During the investigation, the evidence in both the play and the short story reveals that Minnie murdered John Wright. The women characters know that Mrs. Wright has been facing domestic violence in her marriage and this is the reason she committed this murder, and as a result, they decide to conceal the evidence from the investigating officers. The women focus on the fact that Minnie is their friend, a woman and also their neighbor and since they have a feeling that Mr. Wright has been abusing her emotionally, they do not concentrate on the reality that she is indeed a murderer who killed her husband (Curcio). In both works, they make up the jury that is responsible with determining Minnie’s case, and in the end, the reader is left wondering as they struggle to obtain a lenient ruling for the accused by interfering with the evidence.

The readers can see that in both works of Glaspell, every character has maintained his or her issues. Mrs. Hale remembers how Minnie was different before she got into marriage and she is regretting not having visited her in years. Mrs. Peter, on the other hand, suffers from isolation and silence in both works, her troubles began when her only child died at the age of two, and since then she has been facing unbearable loneliness, quietness, and stillness in her house.

Although these two works of Susan Glaspell are similar in so many ways, the audience can as well pinpoint a few differences. The first differences arise from the titles; A Jury of Her Peers for the story tells the readers that the author's focus will be on two women’s characters, Mrs. Peter and Mrs. Hale. The short story is detailed, and it reveals the feelings of the characters, and the audience can get more insights into the thoughts of the characters. Mrs. Hale said when they “met the year before at the county fair” Mrs. Peters  “didn’t seem like a sheriff’s wife”( Glaspell, p 19).  Also in A Jury of Her Peers, the reader can get a feeling of the relationships that exist between Mr. Hale and Mrs. Hale when He “yells at her saying, Martha, Don’t keep folks waiting out here in the cold” (Glaspell, p 11). The author uses the title of the story to convey two essential themes, legalism represented by Jury and feminist community as described by Her Peers.

On the other hand, the title of the play is subtle and it focuses on the small clues that drive the story, these objects act as a point of focus that is used in the judgment of Minnie. In the play Trifle, the readers do not get insights as they do in the short story of A Jury of Her Peer. Also, the character’s feelings are not revealed in the play. 

The women are more segregated from the men in the Trifle than in A Jury of Her Peers, and they stay as a community throughout the play.  On the other hand, the men play a more profound role in the short story because it is more detailed as compared to Trifle where the character interaction is mild. In the story, the author provides the readers the freedom of interpretation whereas in the play there is no room for imagination and the readers are left to fill in the gaps as the author do not give a detailed characterization.

Conclusion

The two works of Susan Glaspell are more similar in the most sense. The author decided to maintain the same characters, the themes, the evidence and the findings that were in the play in her short story. The short story is more detailed and useful in bringing out Glaspell’s themes. Glaspell goes ahead to give the characters feelings as opposed to the play where these feelings are left out.  The story provides room for readers to interpret the character interactions and emotions and these give them an in-depth insight.

Work Cited

Curcio A. A Jury of Her Peers"vs. Trifles. https://prezi.com/quukncspur3i/a-jury-of-her-peers-vs-trifles/. Accessed 18 July, 2015

Glaspell S. TRIFLES a play in one-act.

Glaspell S. A Jury of Her Peers. Annenberg Foundation 2016

November 24, 2023
Category:

Literature

Subcategory:

Literary Genres

Subject area:

Short Story

Number of pages

4

Number of words

971

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47

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