ENG 242 Susan Glaspell Trifles.docx - Susan Glaspell...

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Susan Glaspell: Trifles Susan Keating Glaspell (July 1, 1876 – July 28, 1948) was an American playwright, novelist, journalist and actress. With her husband George Cram Cook, she founded the Provincetown Players, the first modern American theatre company. First known for her short stories (fifty were published), Glaspell is known also to have written nine novels, fifteen plays, and a biography. Often set in her native Midwest, these semi-autobiographical tales typically explore contemporary social issues, such as gender, ethics, and dissent, while featuring deep, sympathetic characters who make principled stands. Her 1930 play Alison's House earned her the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Trifles is a one-act play by Susan Glaspell. It was first performed by the Provincetown Players at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on August 8, 1916. In the original performance, Glaspell played the role of Mrs. Hale. The play is frequently anthologized in American literature textbooks. Written at the same time as the first wave of feminism, the play contrasts how women act in public and in private as well as how they perform in front of other women versus how they perform in front of men. The play is loosely based on the murder of John Hossack, which Glaspell reported on while working as a journalist for the Des Moines Daily News. On December 2, 1900, Hossack's wife, Margaret, reported to the police that an unknown person broke into their house and murdered John with an axe while she slept next to him. Margaret was arrested for the murder a few days later at John's funeral. Glaspell followed the story closely and reported on its development, filing a total of twenty-six stories on the case over the course of Hossack's arrest and trial. Initially, Glaspell's reporting painted a rich portrait of Hossack as a formidable, cold-blooded woman, thoroughly capable of "having beaten [her husband's] brains out with an axe." However, after Glaspell visited the Hossack family farmhouse to gather materials for her next column, her tone shifted considerably. Subsequent reports from Glaspell showed Hossack under a much more sympathetic light as a meek woman who missed her children. ****************************************************************************** ******************** CHARACTERS GEORGE HENDERSON, County Attorney HENRY PETERS, Sherif LEWIS HALE, A neighboring farmer MRS. PETERS MRS. HALE 1
[The kitchen in the now abandoned farmhouse of JOHN WRIGHT, a gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order—unwashed pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a dish-towel on the table— other signs of incompleted work. At the rear the outer door opens and the SHERIFF comes in followed by the COUNTY ATTORNEY and HALE. The SHERIFF and HALE are men in middle life, the COUNTY ATTORNEY is a young man; all are much bundled up and go at once to the stove. They are followed by the two women—the SHERIFF's wife first; she is a slight wiry woman, a thin nervous face. MRS HALE is larger and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she is disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women have come in slowly, and stand

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