Trifles

Layers of Significance in Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

Layers of Significance in Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

Susan Glaspell's decision to change the title from "Trifles" to "A Jury of Her Peers" when converting it from stage play to short story ironically robs readers of a metaphor that not only mirrors the female characters' use of coded words and symbols (Lanser 414-15), but further highlights the gender mindsets of pre-1920's men and women, the dually interpreted setting, and the role of the canary as both a companion and a symbol. When Mr. Hale accuses women as "used to worrying over trifles," he is referring, literally, to the multi-layered dessert, but a second definition of "trifles" as matters of trivial importance is equally important to the play's interpretation. The multiple layers of a trifle represent the women's dialogue and actions that contain much more information than is recognized by the men, who never look below the surface, while the second definition refers to the insignificance the men associate with the tasks, minds, and needs of their wives.

The women of "Trifles" operate on multi-dimensional levels of thought, observation, and speech. They discover meaning beneath trivial...

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