What Was the Major Conflict in "Trifles"?

The women saw the unfinished quilt as evidence of Mrs. Wright’s mental state.
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"Trifles" is a one-act play by Susan Glaspell that centers on a murder investigation. The play was first performed in 1916, and it highlights the conflict between men and women at the time, particularly male dominance in women’s lives. What the men see as unimportant "trifles" are seen by the woman as important evidence of Mrs. Minnie Wright’s motive and guilt in Mr. Wright’s murder.

1 Men vs. Women

The major conflict in this play is external -- the men versus the women. The male sheriff, country attorney and neighbor look for evidence, while Mrs. Hale, the neighbor’s wife, and Mrs. Peters, the sheriff’s wife, gather clothing to take to Mrs. Wright in jail. The men belittle the women’s tasks, saying, "Well, women are used to worrying over trifles," making the women feel resentful. But the women’s concern with the little things, the so-called "trifles," is what leads to the truth in the murder case. The conflict climaxes when the women question whether to tell the men about the key evidence they found, a strangled canary, and they decide to lie.

Melissa McDonald has been writing about education since 2006. Her work has appeared in “AdjunctNation,” “JCW” and “Honor Cord” e-zine. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and currently works in higher education as a writing consultant. Beyond her work as educator and writer, McDonald volunteers as a judge in both local and national writing competitions for high school and college students.

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