Department of English
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
(July 1, 1876 – July 27, 1948)
Study Guide for Susan Glaspell's Trifles
Topics to think about:
Laughter: Who laughs? at whom? When? When is laughter mentioned? What does laughter mean in each instance?
In what ways do characters communicate with each other? How do messages
get across from one party to another? Do women communicate differently
from men? Do the women communicate differently from each other?
ironies do you find in the play?
Dialog: Notice how dialog is interrupted or becomes choppy at different points in the play. What words are choked off or said, what actions are checked or completed, what ideas are withheld or communicated and when? Despite so much that is interrupted or incomplete in Trifles (ex. unwashed hand towels, bread dropped beside its box, spoken sentences left unfinished) how is discovery or disclosure achieved?
Setting: What actions take place where? How are different characters allotted space on the stage? How do the characters associate themselves with particular spaces in the setting and with each other throughout the play?
Character: How does the ending of the play reveal character through discovery? What information do you discover about the characters? How is that information given?
Absence: Examine how the play characterizes characters who are not there. Pick an absent character and consider the techniques used to present them to us and how that presentation affects our understanding of other characters and of the story.
Explore conflict in the play. Choose a conflict that interests you and
consider who is involved and in what way. How is the conflict resolved, or
Hale, Mrs. Hale –
Mrs. Peters –
Foster, Mrs. John Wright –
Peters, Sheriff Peters –
George Henderson – young Henderson, county attorney
Lewis Hale – a neighboring farmer
Harry – "Mrs. Hale's oldest boy"
Sample Student Reading Responses to Susan Glaspell's Trifles
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May 31, 2012