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Freedom and Confinement in Trifles by Susan Glaspell

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Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. It is a fundamental need of a human being after survival necessities. Without freedom, humans have no meaning in life than to eat, sleep, reproduce and then die. Life without freedom would barely be a life. Life without freedom is confinement. With confinement, there is no choice to be made. Every thought, every decision, is already made by another entity. In the short story, Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, there are many symbols of freedom and confinement and how those led Mrs. Wright to kill her husband. Those symbols being the house, Mrs. Wright’s bird, and song.

What is the most known form of confinement? A Prison. In the short story, although the house is not a prison, it can be considered one. For example, in the short story, the character, Mrs. Hale said, “I’ve never liked this place. Maybe because it’s down in a hollow and you don’t see the road”. Mrs. Wright must’ve gotten crazy in a place like this. It (the house) is completely isolated because of how hollow it is location is. She doesn’t have any friends, she can’t even see the people in their cars because of how far the road is. The only person she does see is someone that has abused her for years. The man that controls her every thought and every decision she makes. The man that took everything from her. Her liveliness, her song. It is sad. Sad that the only person she can turn to is the one that abused her. The one that took everything from her. The one that sucked the life out of her. The one that put her behind bars.

The bird is a symbol of Minnie Foster before she turned to Minnie Wright. There are two quotes from the short story from Mrs. Hale that prove this. “She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that — oh, that was thirty years ago” and “She – come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself”. It is undeniable that Minnie Foster was like the caged bird by her being in a figurative cage to her being compared to a bird as well. The bird symbolizes Minnie Foster’s sweet, excited and friendly character before the changes caused by her marriage. Because of her marriage to John Wright, Minnie Foster, the sweet and excited girl, transformed into Mrs. Wright, a lonely, isolated, depressed woman.

Throughout literature, song is a symbol of freedom. It is the case in Trifles too. In the short story, Mrs. Hale said, “she used to wear pretty clothes and be lively when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir”. Back when Minnie Wright was Minnie Foster, she sang a lot. She was free. Her late husband did not enjoy the singing though. As a matter of fact, he killed his wife’s bird presumably because it sang. Him killing the bird was like how he killed Minnie Foster by taking her singing, her liveliness and most importantly her freedom.

For many years, Mrs. Wright sustained emotional abuse and neglect from her husband. He took everything away from her. He took her singing, her liveliness, and her freedom away from her. He kept her confined in a gloomy, hollow place with no one, no friends, no relatives and no children. She couldn’t even wave at the people on the road because it was too far. The only thing that kept her happy was a canary she bought. But he took that away from her too. Tore the birdcage down and strangled the defenseless canary. The canary was the only thing Minnie Wright ever loved. John Wright not only stripped Minnie Foster of her freedom and humanity but also her love. In such a confined living, she now had nothing to live for.

Life without freedom is barely a life. Other than to eat, sleep, and reproduce, what did she have to live for? Nothing. Unless if she got out of her confinement. Then, she would have something to live for, which is her freedom. For years, John Wright emotionally abused Mrs. Wright. He isolated her, took everything from her that she had to offer. For years, John Wright confined Mrs. Wright. All she did was pay him back with the ultimate confinement. That being death.

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Freedom And Confinement In Trifles By Susan Glaspell. (2021, January 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from
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