Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Trifles” the short story by Susan Glaspell that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Trifles” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent paper. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints abouthow to use PaperStarter.comin the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell •
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Irony of the Title “Trifles”
The title of the play, “Trifles," is an important indication of the dynamic conflict that provides the tension of a serious situation that is anything but trifling. A man has been murdered by his wife, but the men of the town who are in charge of investigating the crime are unable to solve the murder mystery through logic and standard criminal justice procedures. Instead, a small group of women who visit the home where the crime occurred are unable, albeit unintentionally, to “read" a series of clues that the men cannot see because all of the clues are embedded in domestic items that are specific to women. Using this information and citing textual evidence, explain the irony of the title that Glaspell chose to name her work. Be sure to incorporate an analysis of “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell in terms of the ways that the men dismiss the women’s trifling concerns.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Notions of Gendered Space
All of the action in this play takes place in a single setting: the home of the murdered man and his wife, who the reader learns is his killer. The men and women who enter the home after the crime see totally different scenes in this same setting, though. What each set of characters sees is limited by his or her gender. The women notice certain items—preserved fruit, a sewing box, an empty bird cage—that the men completely overlook because they consider the domestic space of the woman of the house to be worthless in terms of offering clues about the crime. Write an essay in which you define and explain the two gendered spaces and their significance in the development of the plot and the play’s outcome.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Symbol of the Bird
The women who visit the Wright home after the murder of Mr. Wright notice an empty bird cage and recall that Mrs. Wright had owned a song bird. The women observe that the door of the cage is broken and the hinge has been pulled off; Mrs. Hale observes that someone was “rough with it," which suggests the motive of the crime. When the women discover the dead bird wrapped up in a piece of fine silk in Mrs. Wright’s sewing box, they piece these clues together and discover the reason why Mrs. Wright killed Mr. Wright. Considering the discussion that the women have about the bird, consider its symbolism and what it might have meant to Mrs. Wright. Explain why Mrs. Wright would have killed her husband over a small bird.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Moral Dilemma in “Trifles"
Once the women have pieced together the clues and solved the mystery of Mr. Wright’s death, they quickly come to an agreement to suppress the information from the men who are investigating Mr. Wright’s murder. Explain the process by which the women come to this agreement. Identify whether any of the women resist colluding in the suppression of this evidence. Then, construct an argument in which you identify whether the women were right to withhold their discovery from the investigators. Identify the different experiences that the women themselves had which made them empathic to Mrs. Wright’s situation and helped them to justify their actions.
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: The Concept of Crime
After the women have discovered the true story of the crime and have distracted the investigators from discovering the same truth, they have a brief exchange amongst themselves about the relationships among women. Mrs. Hale declares that never visiting Mrs. Wright was “a crime" and asks, “Who’s going to punish that?" What Mrs. Hale describes is a different kind of crime, of course, than the murder which Mrs. Wright has committed. Yet it seems that Glaspell wants to make a commentary about other kinds of crime and their impact on individuals. Write anin which you explain what Mrs. Hale means by the crime of not visiting Mrs. Wright, and explain the distinctions between this kind of crime and legal concepts of crime.
• To Refresh : Here is a Full Plot Summary of “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell •
Click here to go to a full critical analysis of “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell
This list of important quotations from “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Trifles” by Susan Glasspell listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“Nothing here but kitchen things." (1896)
“Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves." (1896)
“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles." (1896)
“I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing." (1897)
“Said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want, for there isn’t much to get you dirty in jail…. But I suppose just to make her feel more natural." (1898)
“But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law." (1899)
“[L]ook at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It’s all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn’t know what she was about." (1899)
“There was a man around last year selling canaries cheap, but I don’t know as she took one; maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty herself." (1900)
“She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery." (1901)
“If there’d been years and years of nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful—still, after the bird was still." (1902)
Reference: Glaspell, Susan. “Trifles." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. 1893-1903.
The title of the play is oozing with irony. The title comes from this gem of a line from Hale: "Well, women are used to worrying about trifles" (132). He says this in response to the fact that Mrs. Wright seems to be more worried about her preserves bursting than she is about the fact that she's being held for murder.
After this line, all the guys yuck it up about how women never worry about important stuff, and then the guys head off to go do important man stuff like looking through the bedroom for evidence.
The title's irony rears its head when Mrs. Hale's and Mrs. Peters' concern with trifling women stuff ends up solving the mystery. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters would never have figured out what happened if they hadn't stayed in the kitchen (a.k.a. the woman's place) and been looking through Mrs. Wright's quilt scraps. So it seems like all this unimportant woman stuff weren't just trifles after all. The title also works on a larger level: it also represents how women as a whole are treated like unimportant trifles.