The “Real” Murder••Early in the morning of Dec. 2, 1900, JohnHossack was killed in his bed by two blows to thehead from an axe. His wife, Margaret, claimed tohave slept through it. She was arrested formurder on the day of the funeral, tried, convicted,and sentenced to life in prison. However, the IowaSupreme Court overturned the life sentence, anda second trial resulted in a hung jury, so she wentfree. Susan Glaspell, who wrote "Triﬂes" was oneof the only female reporters who covered the trial,and she used the Hossack murder as a looseinspiration for the play.There is a book called Midnight Assassin thatdiscusses the real case, and if you are interested,it’s a fascinating read.
The Hossack Family, 1892John (the man who was murdered) and Margaret (his wife, accused of the murder)are seated. The others are their children. This photograph was taken eight yearsbefore the murder.
Susan Glaspell’s Article onthe Hossack CaseAs a reporter for The Des MoinesNews, our “Triﬂes”author was oneof the first to report on the crime,as well as one of the only femalejournalists covering the crime.The Hossack murder wasextremely sensationalized. Itgained national attention, andevery major newspaper in thecountry was paying attention to it.What do you think it was aboutthis murder that grabbed thecountry’s attention?
Triﬂes - Title of the play••What are the connotations of the word “triﬂes”?What are the “triﬂes” to which the title refers?How do these “triﬂes” advance the play’s plot?
Triﬂes••Triﬂesis a murder mystery that explores genderrelationships, power relationship between thesexes, 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 toinvestigate the murder; Henry Peters, the localsheriff; Lewis Hale, a neighboring farmer whodiscovered Wright's body; and Mrs. Peters and Mrs.Hale, wives to the two local men.
Summary••••The sheriff Henry Peters and the county attorneyGeorge Henderson arrive with the witness LewisHale, Mrs. Peters, and Mrs. Hale at John Wright'sfarmhouse.The police are investigating Wright's murder.Lewis Hale mentions how he discovered Mrs.Wright acting strangely, as she told him that herhusband was murdered while she was sleeping.Although a gun had been in the house, Wrightwas gruesomely strangled with a rope.
•••••Men accuse women for worrying abouttriﬂes instead of about the case.But Henderson allows the women tocollect some items for Mrs. Wright.