From Courtroom to Stage: Susan Glaspell's "Trifles"

Susan Glaspell was only twenty-four-years-old when she covered the Hossack murder in Indianola, Iowa as a journalist. It would be many years before Glaspell would write her breakout play Trifles, a play that bears remarkable similarities to the real-life murder of farmer John Hossack. Inside the wooden doors of the Indianola courthouse, young Glaspell had witnessed an event that would influence the rest of her life. To the residents of Warren County, the event that took place inside that courthouse was a trial to determine a woman's innocence; to Glaspell, it was a testament of American injustice towards women in society. When she sat down to write Trifles, there is no doubt that it was modeled on the events that took place during that Hossack trial. The line is drawn as Glaspell the journalist becomes Glaspell the artist, and she makes careful omissions and additions to her work. Trifles is not simply a retelling; instead, to better exaggerate her concern about sexism, Susan Glaspell made several changes for her play. The addition of Mrs. Hale, the dirty roller towel, and the canary emphasizes Glaspell's focus on the injustice of men's feelings toward women and their work.

Glaspell first departs from the real...

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