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The Image of the Bird

Central image

Ashley Riddick

Professor MacDonald

GEEN 111

The Bird as an Image

            The image of the bird plays a major role in Susan Glaspell’s play, Trifles.  The bird represents family and companionship for Mrs. Wright.  It also represents Minnie Foster before she became Minnie Wright.  The death of the bird symbolizes the death of Mr. Wright.  Throughout my paper, I will explain how the bird plays the many roles in the play.

            Mr. and Mrs. Wright never had any children.  The image of the bird represents the children they didn’t have for Mrs. Wright.  It also represents companionship for Mrs. Wright because Mr. Wright showed her no attention.

            MRS. HALE: Not having children makes less work---but it makes a quiet house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in (557).

The bird kept her company when she was home, which was almost always.  She had no friends because no one wanted to be around Mr. Wright. 

            MRS. HALE: It never seemed a very cheerful place… But I don’t think a place’d be any cheerfuller for John Wright’s being in it (553).  But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters.  Just to pass the time of day with him--. Like a raw wind that gets to the bone (557).

Without the bird, Mrs. Wright would have no companionship.

            When Mrs. Wright married Mr. Wright her whole lifestyle changed. He basically took away everything she had.  The image of the bird also represents who Mrs. Wright was before she married Mr. Wright.  Before she was Minnie Wright, she was Minnie Foster.  Minnie Foster was totally different from Minnie Wright.

            MRS. HALE: 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 (554).

The bird reminds Mrs. Hale of Minnie Foster.

            MRS. HALE: She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery.  How—she—did change (558).

            The play suggests Mrs. Wright killed Mr. Wright. It also suggests Mr. Wright killed the bird.

            MRS. HALE: No, Wright wouldn’t like the bird—a thing that sing.  She used to sing.  He killed that, too.

The death of the bird symbolizes the death of Mr. Wright.  They both died the same way.  The bird was found in a box with its neck wrung.  Mr. Wright was found strangled with a rope around his neck.  Throughout the play, evidence suggest that Mrs. Wright killed Mr. Wright the same way Mr. Wright killed her bird.

            The bird is one of the main objects in the play. The image of the bird leads to many different conclusions about who killed Mr. Wright.  Although most of the evidence points to Mrs. Wright, I don’t think she will be convicted for his murder.  The only evidence they might have against her is the bird and they don’t even have that.  Without the bird there is basically no case.  Without the bird there may not have been a murder.  It’s sad that a bird had to symbolize family and companionship for a woman who couldn’t get it from her husband.  Who knew a bird could mean so much to someone?