Justice is served, a three word sentence that holds to be true and false at the same time. The true definition of justice can be hidden behind the eye of the beholder. In Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles Mr. John Wright is strangled in the middle of the night. His wife seems to know nothing of the murder, nor does she seem concerned about the death of her husband. She is considered the prime suspect from the beginning. The Sheriff, his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Hale, and the county attorney are dissecting the crime scene to determine what happened on that dreadful night.
The men and women in Glaspell’s play have vital roles in solving the mystery of John Wright’s death. In the beginning of the play the men gathered to search for evidence around the Wright home. With the sheriff controlling the crime scene, they work as a cohesive unit trying to solve the murder. The county attorney asks questions to Mr. Hale throughout the play since he was the first to see Mr. Wright dead. Mr. Hale willingly cooperates and obliges to the attorney’s questions.
Then men in the play seem to have the same agenda while diligently working to figure out what happened at the Wright house. While conducting their search, the men didn’t find much evidence to incriminate Mrs. Wright. Now on the other hand, the women in the play seemed to be a step ahead. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters were supposed to be gathering items for Mrs. Wright while she was in jail. They were definitely sympathetic for Mrs. Wright. The ladies felt the men were invading Mrs. Wright’s home and personal belongings.
Instead of taking heed to the sheriff not to touch anything, they were content in putting their hands all over the crime scene. At first, the women seemed more interested in the welfare of the Wright home than the actual crime. After finding an undone quilt, the two women seemed to put together a secret investigation of their own. The women were noticing small things that the men had overlooked. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters noticed that in the last square of the quilt the stitching began to look “fidgety. ” To the two ladies this was a telltale sign of nervousness.
Why was Mrs. Wright nervous? What was she hiding? The women also noticed a broken door hinge, which may have indicated some forceful action. Last, but not least, was the birdcage the women discovered, along with the dead bird. The women speculated that Mr. Wright had strangled the bird since the neck was twisted and mangled. Since Mrs. Wright had no children of her own, the bird may have been her last bit of sanity. Mrs. Wright was going to bury the bird in a beautiful box which also indicated her love for the canary.
The women stated that her home wasn’t “cheerful. ” Mrs. Hale was her neighbor and never even visited. With all this being said the women came to the conclusion that Mrs. Wright may have killed her husband. In retaliation for the death of her lovely bird, she strangled her husband just as he had killed her canary. The women did not form a cohesive team to make a believable story because their evidence was based on speculation and opinion. At the end of the play the county attorney concluded that there wasn’t much evidence at the crime scene. Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters didn’t share their new found information with the men. The attorney questioned the quilt and birdcage, but the two women downplayed it as if they were just some items found while gathering the necessities for Mrs. Wright. They told the men that a cat probably killed the bird, and that the quilt just needed to be “knotted. ” If the men would have heard the deposition of the women in Glaspell’s play they would have evaluated the crime scene much differently. Mrs. Wright may have been charged with the murder of her husband.
Because the women with held their information, Mr. Wright’s murder has no clear picture. So has justice been served? Susan Glaspell must feel as if the husband’s death is justifiable since he killed his wife’s bird; the only thing that gave her peace of mind on those long and lonely days. In her play she lets the reader live off the speculation of the women. No one really knows the truth about Mr. John Wright or what will happen to his wife. The reader does not know that each character has a different impact on the outcome of the story. Justice is served.