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What is a play?

What is the
difference between
a play and a short
story?
How does drama
play an important
role in our life or
any-real life
situations?
PERFORMERS
DIALOGUE
CHARACTERS
SETTING
PLOT
THEME
One-Act Play
• a play that has only one act, as distinct from plays that occur over several acts.
• it consists of one or more scenes
• its origin may be traced from the very beginning of drama: in ancient Greece,
Cyclops, a satyr play by Euripides
• CHARACTERS are few in number; quickly introduced; limited character
development
• Takes place in a single location
• It is usually 9-12 pages long.
Elements of One-Act Play
• Theme
• Plot
• Character
• Dialogue
Theme

• What is the play about?


• The central idea or meaning of the play
Plot

• The author’s arrangement of incidents in a play


• In one-act play, there is only time for one significant
event
Character
Types of Character

• Protagonist – hero (e.g. Harry Potter)

• Antagonist – villain (e.g. Voldemort)


Types of Character
• Round Character – a major character in a work of fiction
who encounters conflict and is changed by it. A character
that develops throughout the story and shows many complex
personality traits, just like a real person.
• Major character, main character, or dynamic character
(e.g. Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny
Weasley)
Types of Character
• Dynamic Character – a major character whose personality changes
through the course of the story due to a change in a situation or plot.
The change in character’s personality is permanent. The change may
be from weak to strong, from a strong to weak, from a cheery person
to a person in distress, and the like.
• Also called as a developing character
(e.g. Neville Longbottom)
Types of Character
• Flat Character – minor character who is not fully described and is
often given with only one or two traits.
• Plays supporting role; background character who’s not really part of
the story, but just help to provide a good setting; has few but easily
recognizable traits
• Also referred to as two-dimensional or static character.
(e.g. Mr. Filch/Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwart’s School of
Witchcraft and Wizardy, with his only undying obsession finding
students breaking school rules)
Types of Character
• Static Character – minor character who remain primarily the same
throughout the story.
• Plays a supporting role the main character.
• Events in the story do not alter his or her outlook in life, personality,
perception, or habits; there is not much to learn about him/her
• Also referred to as two-dimensional or flat character.
(e.g. Prof. McGonagall or Bellatrix Lestrange whose personalities are
consistent throughout the series and our knowledge about them does
not increase)
Types of Character
• Confidante Character – someone in whom the main characters
confides; whom the main character can trust on and ultimately helps
develop his/her heroic characteristic or personality.
• The confidante does not need to be a person. Animals, teddy bears,
and other objects have been used as confidantes in literature as well
as in real life.
(e.g. Remus Lupin, Albus Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Sirius Black, as well
as Ron and Hermione)
Types of Character
• Foil Character – a character who enhances the qualities of another
character through contrast.
• The foil is the protagonist's counterpart. While the antagonist is
directly opposed to the protagonist's goals, the foil serves as a
contrast to the protagonist's personality.
• Often, the foil brings out another side of the protagonist, or causes
the protagonist to think about the story's problems in a new way.
(e.g. Draco Malfoy, his nastiness and cowardice contrast with Harry’s
goodness and bravery)
Types of Character
• Stock Character – a flat character who represents stereotypical
personality traits which may stem from his or her appearance, the
situation he or she finds him-/herself in, or the culture of the society.
• They are not the focus of nor are they developed in the story.
• Stock characters are very easy to identify. They are examples of widely
known cultural types with stereotypical characteristics and mannerisms,
and are often used in parody (a work that mocks, comments on, or makes
fun of something).
(e.g. Professor McGonagall – the stereotypical strict, rule-abiding teacher.)
Dialogue

• The verbal exchanges between characters.


Susan
Susan Keating Glaspell
Glaspell
Born on July 1, 1876
Died on July 28, 1948
An American playwright, novelist,
journalist, and actress.
Raised in Davenport, Iowa
Attended Drake University (Doctor in
Philosophy)
Awarded Pulitzer in 1931 for her play
Alison’s House
Other Major
Works
“A Jury of Her Peers” (1917) – short story version of Trifles
Judd Rankin’s Wife (1928) – adapted into a movie
Alison’s House (1930)
The Morning is Near Us (1940) – sold over 100, 000 copies
Trifles
Written in 1916
Based on a true story of the murder of John Hossack
by his wife Margaret in 1900
Historical Context -
Women’s suffrage 1916
Women had not yet achieved the right to vote, and they
cannot sit on juries.
1920 – 19th Amendment grated women the right to vote
Very little protection for women from domestic abuse
Trifles
Description of the farmhouse kitchen.
First to enter is the Sheriff, followed by the County Atty and Hale.
We're told that the Sheriff and the Hale are middle aged, but the
County Attorney is a young buck (Native American).
All three men are bundled up against the cold and go immediately to
the kitchen stove to warm up.
Next to enter is the Sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peters, who's described as wiry
and nervous.
Last to make her appearance is Mrs. Hale, the wife of Hale.
Trifles
Description of the farmhouse kitchen.
First to enter is the Sheriff, followed by the County Atty and Hale.
We're told that the Sheriff and the Hale are middle aged, but the
County Attorney is a young buck (Native American).
All three men are bundled up against the cold and go immediately to
the kitchen stove to warm up.
Next to enter is the Sheriff's wife, Mrs. Peters, who's described as wiry
and nervous.
Last to make her appearance is Mrs. Hale, the wife of Hale.
Trifles
The County Attorney invites the ladies to join the men by the fire.
Mrs. Peters takes a step towards the stove, but then decides she's not
cold.
The County Attorney asks Hale to confirm whether anything has been
moved in the house.
Hale says he just had some dude named Frank come over and make a
fire that morning since it dropped below freezing last night.
The County Attorney scolds the Sheriff, saying that somebody
should've been left at the house yesterday.
Trifles
The County Attorney and asks Hale to tell him everything he saw when he entered
the house the morning before.
He dropped by to see if John Wright wanted to go in with him on a party
telephone.
Hale mentions that he'd tried to get Wright to do this before.
Wright had blown him off, though, saying that people talked too much and all he
wanted was peace and quiet.
Hale starts to say that he hoped Wright might budge on getting the phone if Hale
brought up the subject in front of Mrs. Wright, but then he admits that Wright
never really paid attention to what his wife said anyway.
The County Attorney cuts off Hale, telling him they'll talk about the wife stuff later.
Trifles
He tells us that everything was quiet when he knocked on the door,
and when he came in he found Mrs. Wright rocking in the rocking
chair.
Everybody looks at the rocking chair he's talking about.
According to Hale, Mrs. Wright was just kind of weirdly rocking back
and forth in her chair and pleating her apron.
The County Attorney asks Hale how Mrs. Wright seemed to feel about
Hale being there.
Apparently, she was didn't seem to really care.
Trifles
Hale tried to point out that it was cold, but Mrs. Wright didn't
seem to have noticed.
When Hale asked if he could see John, Mrs. Wright kind of
laughed and said no.
Confused, Hale asked if John was home, and Mrs. Wright says yes.
Even more confused, Hale asks why he can't see John then.
To which Mrs. Wright calmly replies that John was upstairs dead.
Trifles
After some more questioning, the unconcerned widow tells Hale
that her husband died of a rope around the neck.
She said she wasn't sure how it happened.
She was asleep, and she's a really sound sleeper.
Hale got some dude named Harry, and they checked out Wright's
body.
They decided to leave it there, though, and let Mrs. Wright tell her
story to the authorities.
Trifles
While they're waiting for the coroner to come, Hale tries to make
conversation with Mrs. Wright and tells her that he'd come to talk
to her husband about getting a party telephone.
To that, she suddenly laughs and then looked suddenly scared.
Hale says that then Harry, the coroner, and the Sheriff showed up,
so everybody knows what happened after that.
The County Attorney says that they ought to investigate upstairs
first and then the barn.
Trifles
He asks the Sheriff if he's sure there's no evidence in the kitchen.
The Sheriff says, "Nah, there's nothing here but kitchen stuff."
The County Attorney scopes out the kitchen and opens a cabinet,
which turns out to be filled with a bunch of sticky goop.
Mrs. Peters solves the mystery of the goop, saying that Mrs.
Wright's jars of preserves burst over night because it got freezing
cold in the house.
Trifles
Apparently, Mrs. Wright told Mrs. Peters that she was worried
this might happen.
The Sheriff laughs and implies that Mrs. Wright is his idea of a
typical woman—"Held for murder and worrying about her
preserves"
Hale pipes in, pointing out that women only ever worry about
"trifles"
Trifles
The County Attorney tries to sound chivalrous and points out how
men need ladies for all kinds of things.
Next, he tries to wash his hands. He gets freaked out by Mrs. Wright's
dirty towels and accuses her of being a bad housekeeper.
Mrs. Hale comes to Mrs. Wright's defense a bit and says that there's a
lot to do on a farm.
The County Attorney shrugs her off, though, saying that there are
plenty of farmhouses in the county that aren't plagued with dirty
towels.
Trifles
Not having it, Mrs. Hale replies that men's hands are super dirty.
The County Attorney suggests that Mrs. Hale is loyal to Mrs. Wright
because they're both women.
He also says that Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Hale were neighbors and asks if
the two ladies were friends.
Mrs. Hale admits that she hasn't hung out with Mrs. Wright in a while;
in fact, she hasn't been inside this house for a year.
She also adds that this place has always been kind of gloomy.
Trifles
The County Attorney thinks this is because Mrs. Wright is such a sub-
par housekeeper.
Now the men folk decide to investigate the upstairs bedroom and
leave the women folk to gather a few woman things for Mrs. Wright in
jail.
Mrs. Hale gripes to Mrs. Peters that she'd hate to have men nosing
around her kitchen and criticizing things.
Mrs. Peters says the men are just doing their duty.
Trifles
Checking out the dirty towel, Mrs. Hale replies that it was probably
that Harry they sent to start the fire that got the towel so dirty.
Mrs. Hale inspects the sticky goop in the cabinet and says she feels
super bad to see all of Mrs. Wright's work on the preserves go to
waste.
Distracted, she starts to sit in the rocking chair, but then remembers
whose it is and takes a step back.
The chair rocks all creepily from where Mrs. Hale touched it.
Trifles
Mrs. Peters goes to get some clothes for Mrs. Wright, and Mrs.
Hale helps her out.
They reenter the kitchen carrying a dress, skirt, and shoes.
Mrs. Hale talks about how Mrs. Wright didn't really have any
friends.
According to Mrs. Hale, Mrs. Wright used to be the life of the
party back in the day.
Mrs. Wright used to wear lots of pretty clothes and sang in the
choir back when she was Minnie Foster
Trifles
Mrs. Hale asks Mrs. Peters if these clothes were all Mrs. Wright
asked to be brought to her in jail.
Mrs. Peters replies that Mrs. Wright also wanted an apron, and
Peters points out that it's weird that Wright would want an apron
in jail.
All sketchy like, Mrs. Hale suddenly shuts the door to upstairs and
asks Mrs. Peters if she thinks Mrs. Wright did it.
Mrs. Peters isn't sure, but says the menfolk definitely seem to
think Mrs. Wright is guilty.
Trifles
Mr. Henderson thinks the whole thing about Mrs. Wright sleeping
through her husband's strangulation is ridiculous.
Mrs. Hale thinks it's weird that Mr. Wright evidentially slept through
somebody putting a rope around his neck.
Both women agree it was an odd way to kill somebody, especially when
there was a gun in the house.
Mrs. Peters says that the only thing Mr. Henderson is missing is a motive.
He needs some proof that there was some kind of sudden anger or
feeling.
They try to clean the kitchen a bit.
Trifles
Mrs. Peters finds the pieces of a quilt that Mrs. Wright was working on,
and the ladies wonder whether Mrs. Wright was going to quilt it or knot
it.
Just then, the Sheriff walks in and laughs at the women for worrying
about woman stuff like quilts.
After their brief sexist interlude, the men head out to investigate the
barn.
Mrs. Hale is annoyed that the Sheriff made fun of them, but Mrs. Peters
apologetically points out that her husband and the other men have
important things on their minds.
Trifles
So turning her mind to woman stuff, Mrs. Hale checks out the pieces of
the quilt.
One piece catches her eye because it's sewn terribly while all the others
are totally fine.
The ladies figure that Mrs. Wright must've been really upset or nervous
about something.
This clicks with them both, and they give each other a look that says, "Uh
oh, does this show that whole "sudden feeling" thing the Attorney is
looking for?“ They don't say this out loud though, and Mrs. Hale starts to
fix Mrs. Wright's nervous sewing.
Trifles
Mrs. Peters reminds Mrs. Hale that they probably shouldn't change
anything, but Mrs. Hale makes the excuse that she just can't stand to see
sloppy sewing.
We get our next clue, when Mrs. Peters finds an empty birdcage in the
cupboard.
Neither woman is sure if Mrs. Wright had a bird, though there is a
birdcage and all.
Also, some dude came around selling canaries super cheap last year, so it
seems likely that Mrs. Wright might've bought one, especially since she
used to sing a lot herself.
Trifles
The ladies wonder what happened to the bird. Was it a cat?
Nope, she didn't have a cat; in fact, Mrs. Wright was afraid of cats.
Mrs. Peters notices that the door to cage seems to have been ripped off.
Mrs. Hale says she feels bad that she never came to visit Mrs. Wright,
a.k.a. Minnie Foster.
She admits that she didn't come around because the Wright house was
super depressing.
Mrs. Hale knows that Mrs. Wright was probably really lonely here,
especially with no kids around.
Mrs. Hale starts filling in the details on how Mr. Wright was kind of a jerk.
Trifles
He didn't drink and was honest, but he was hard-hearted.
It's pretty easy to see why Mrs. Wright would want a bird to keep her
company.
She wonders again what might've happened to it. Mrs. Peters suggests
that maybe it got sick and croaked.
Mrs. Hale gets all nostalgic for good old Minnie Foster again and recalls
how she was kind of like a bird—pretty, shy, fluttery.
After Minnie got married, though, she totally changed.
The ladies get the bright idea that Mrs. Wright might like to finish her
quilt in jail.
Trifles
Mrs. Hale finds a pretty box in the closet and opens it, thinking it might
be Mrs. Wright's scissors.
It's not though. It's the bird. And it's dead. With it's neck wrung.
The two ladies look at each other in horror.
They hear the men coming in from outside, and Mrs. Hale hides the box
under the quilt scraps.
Probably not knowing exactly how arrogant he sounds, the County
Attorney asks the ladies if they've figured out whether Mrs. Wright was
going to quilt or knot the quilt.
Trifles
Trying her best not to seem sketchy, Mrs. Peters replies that they think
Mrs. Wright was going to knot it.
The Attorney asks what's up with the empty birdcage.
Piling more scraps on top of the bird's mini-coffin, Mrs. Hale claims that
they think the cat ate it.
Hardly paying attention to the ladies, Mr. Henderson asks if there is a cat.
Mrs. Hale then delivers the funniest line in the play when she says that
cats are superstitious and leave when somebody dies.
Luckily for her, the County Attorney isn't really listening anyway.
Trifles
He just continues a conversation with the men, talking about how the
rope belonged to the Wright household.
Whoever did it must've known the house well, he says, as he and the
other menfolk head upstairs to go over the evidence again.
Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters sit in awkward silence for a moment.
Mrs. Hale tensely observes that Mrs. Wright must've really loved the bird
to want to bury it in such a pretty box.
Whispering, Mrs. Peters recalls how when she was a girl she wanted to
kill a boy who killed her kitten with a hatchet.
Trifles
Looking around the empty kitchen, Mrs. Hale reiterates how lonely it
must've been for Mrs. Wright with no kids around.
She adds that Mr. Wright would've hated the bird because it sang.
Totally empathizing with Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Hale thinks about what it
must've been like to have years of nothing and then to have the one thing
that gave you any kind of joy killed.
Mrs. Hale remembers how pretty Minnie Foster was when she sang in
the choir. She exclaims that it was a crime that she never came to visit her
old friend.
Trifles
Mrs. Hale says she should've known what Minnie was going through
since all women are going through the same kinds of things... well, a
different kind of the same kind of thing.
Holding back tears, Mrs. Hale picks up an unbroken jar of preserves, and
suggests they use it to convince Mrs. Wright that none of her jars burst.
Mrs. Peters gets all fake, and comments that the men would laugh at
them getting so upset about a dead bird.
Under her breath, Mrs. Hale comments that she's not so sure the men
would care about it.
Trifles
The men folk went back into the kitchen.
The County Attorney is saying everything is clear except for the
motive.
When it comes to women, juries need everything to be totally clear.
To convict Mrs. Wright, he has to have something to explain the weird
way her husband was killed.
Mr. Henderson says he's going to stay and hunt for evidence some
more; he's not quite satisfied.
Trifles
The Sheriff asks if the County Attorney wants to see what Mrs. Peters
is bringing to Mrs. Wright.
The Attorney laughs at the apron and messes with the quilt pieces
covering the box.
He says that all the stuff seems harmless and points out that since Mr.
Peters is the Sheriff's wife she's "married to the law“.
The men go to check some windows, and the women leap into action.
Trifles
Mrs. Peters rips the box from the quilt pieces and tries to shove it into
her coat. But it's too big!
She opens the box and starts to grab the dead bird.
They hear the men coming back, and Mrs. Hale grabs the makeshift
canary coffin and puts it in the pocket of her big coat.
The County Attorney and the Sheriff reenter, and the Attorney
facetiously says that at least the women figured out that Mrs. Wright
wasn't going to quilt the quilt.
Trifles
He asks the ladies to remind him how Mrs. Wright was going
to finish the quilt.
With her hand resting on her pocket, Mrs. Hale says that Mrs.
Wright was going to knot it.
Themes
Gender differences
Role of Homemaker
Isolation
The elusive nature of truth
Justice
Trifles
• Trifles is a murder mystery that explores gender relationships,
power relationship between the sexes, and the nature of truth.
• In the play, Mr. and Mrs Wright never appear; instead, the story
focuses on the prosecutor, George Henderson, who has been
called in to investigate the murder; Henry Peters, the local
sheriff; Lewis Hale, a neighboring farmer who discovered
Wright's body; and Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, wives to the two
local men.
Summary
•The sheriff Henry Peters and the county attorney
George Henderson arrive with the witness Lewis
Hale, Mrs. Peters, and Mrs. Hale at John Wright's
farmhouse.
•The police are investigating Wright's murder.
• Lewis Hale mentions how he discovered Mrs.
Wright acting strangely, as she told him that her
husband was murdered while she was sleeping.
•Although a gun had been in the house, Wright was
gruesomely strangled with a rope.
• Men accuse women for worrying about trifles
instead of about the case.
• But Henderson allows the women to collect
some items for Mrs. Wright.
• He agrees that the objects are irrelevant to the
case though.
• Women mention how happy Mrs. Wright had
been before her marriage.
• They suspect the unhappiness she had suffered
as John Wright's wife.
• After looking around the room, the women
discover a quilt and decide to bring it with
them.
• Men tease them for pondering about the quilt
as they briefly enter the room before going to
inspect the barn.
• Meanwhile, the women discover an empty
birdcage.
• They also find the dead bird in a box in Mrs.
Wright's sewing basket while they are
searching for materials for the quilt.
• The bird has been strangled in the same
manner as John Wright.
• Although Mrs. Peters is hesitant to tell the
men, who are only following the law, she and
Mrs. Hale decide to hide the evidence.
• The men are unable to find any evidence that
will prevent her from being acquitted by a
future jury.
• The play is sympathetic to women.
The play
• In simple terms, Trifles suggests that men tend to be aggressive,
brash, rough, analytical and self-centered;
• In contrast, women are more cautious , thoughtful, intuitive,
and sensitive to the needs of others.
• It is these differences that allows Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale to
find the clues needed to solve the crime, while their husbands
miss the same clues.
Conflict

• Trifles represents the struggles of women with constructed views of


them in the society.
Man VS Man
Man VS Society
there is another ethical conflict
MAN vs ethics
Questions to Ponder
1. How do you explain the play’s title? What is the meaning behind it?
2. How does the setting of the play contribute to our understanding of Minnie
Wright’s position?
3. How does the entrance of the characters distinguish between men and the
women?
4. How should we interpret the behaviour of Mr. Henderson, the county attorney?
Why is Mrs. Hale so annoyed by him?
5. What are the main differences between Minnie Foster and Minnie Wright?
6. In what ways can Mrs. Peters be said to be a foil to Mrs. Hale?
7. Is Mr. Wright so very different from the other men we witness in this play?
Explain.
8. Why do men miss all the real evidence, and why do the women cover it up?
9. Why do we never see either of the Wrights directly?
10.Is Mr. Wright really so wrong? Was the act of Minnie to strangle her husband a
crime or simple justice?
Questions to Ponder
1. How do you explain the play’s title? What is the meaning behind it?
2. How does the setting of the play contribute to our understanding of Minnie
Wright’s position?
3. How does the entrance of the characters distinguish between men and the
women?
4. How should we interpret the behaviour of Mr. Henderson, the county attorney?
Why is Mrs. Hale so annoyed by him?
5. What are the main differences between Minnie Foster and Minnie Wright?
6. In what ways can Mrs. Peters be said to be a foil to Mrs. Hale?
7. Is Mr. Wright so very different from the other men we witness in this play?
Explain.
8. Why do men miss all the real evidence, and why do the women cover it up?
9. Why do we never see either of the Wrights directly?
10.Is Mr. Wright really so wrong? Was the act of Minnie to strangle her husband a
crime or simple justice?
Symbols