LITR201-1403B-06 : Literature: A Reflection of Life

Part 1

 Reading Task: Essays: “Reading Drama Responsively,” pp. 599-624
“Drama in Popular Forms,” pp. 624-627
Optional: Seinfeld episode, “The Pitch” by Larry David, p. 627-636 
“Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, p. 601-611
Setting p. 131-133
Point of View p.153-163

At least 600 words Primary Task

Have you ever attended a play or musical? Do you frequently watch television programs or movies? Nowadays, drama is more popular in American culture than ever before. Yet what some forget is that it is a literary art form crafted by playwrights, TV and comedy writers, and Hollywood screenwriters. Drama shares many of the same elements as fiction and poetry; however, this literary genre is designed to be acted out on a stage or “dramatized” in front of screen audiences.

After you read the assigned essays in the textbook (and possibly the optional Seinfeld episode, “The Pitch”), please discuss the following questions:

  1. Why, in your opinion, are dramas known as “plays?”
  2. Talk about a time in which you attended a play, musical or opera—at a school, church or other public venue. Describe the experience: the sights and sounds, the mood of the audience, and the impact of seeing a drama performed on a live stage.
  3. Have you ever acted and/or sung in a dramatic presentation? If so, depict for your classmates what it was like to be up on a stage performing material from a script. If you have never performed dramatic material, have you ever desired to? Why or why not?
  4. Describe a favorite television show or movie in terms of its main characters, setting(s), basic plot, conflicts and themes. What makes it one of your favorites? 

This assignment is asking you to answer a number of questions

·Develop a topic sentence for each of the assignment prompts.

·You must quote from the story is support of your ideas

·Follow this method to quote:

RULE:Add the author, insert the quote in quote marks, and add the page after.CAUTION:Do not quote more than 39 words.

EXAMPLE:According to Gilb (1193) “The fact was that he’d probably have to change his whole style” (p. 219).


MacGowan, S. (1987). Belfast bombsite. In S. L. Fingers (Ed.).An Irish Punk Poetry

Anthology(pp. 117-118). Donegal: Culchie Press.


Review this link on how to interpret plays: Link 1: Instructions:

Note: You must have citations and a references page; lack of these will impact your grade in several key areas in the grading matrix, including “Define Key Course Concepts (Identify and Summarize the Problem, Question or Issue Presented in the Course).”

Part 2

At least 1200 words

For this assignment, you will be reading and analyzing the Susan Glaspell play, Trifles. As you read the play you will notice that its format is quite different from that of a short story or novel. At first, reading the stage directions, characters’ names and dialogue may feel awkward; but rest assured that, as you keep reading you will find your rhythm and be able to follow the story with little difficulty. 

Please write an essay of 1200 words or more discussing the questions below. As always, begin your paper with an engaging introduction and clear thesis statement, develop each point in the body of your paper using examples and quotes from the play, and conclude your paper with a restatement of your thesis and closing remarks. In addition, be sure to maintain your credibility by including in-text citations and a reference list correctly formatted in APA style.

1.  Setting: What is the setting of the play, in terms of the time period, region and weather? Explain the condition of the house. What emotional response does the setting evoke in you?

2.  Characters: Describe the main characters: county attorney George Henderson, sheriff Henry Peters, neighbor Lewis Hale, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Peters. What do you also know about John and Minnie Wright? Who in this story do you feel is/are the protagonist(s) and who is/are the antagonist(s)?

3.  Plot: Summarize the plot of the play in terms of its narrative arc (also known a pyramidal pattern): exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, falling action and resolution/dénouement. What makes the story suspenseful?

4.  Stage Directions: Comment on Glaspell’s stage directions. What information do they reveal that you would have not been able to glean from the dialogue alone?

5.  Symbolism: Elaborate on the symbolic meaning of the birdcage, the dead canary, the noose and the items referred to as “trifles.”

6.  Themes: Remark on the main messages of this play. What is the meaning of the title, Trifles? In your opinion, what is Glaspell saying about gender differences and marriage in this story?

7.  Genre: Because this is a play, most of the story is told in dialogue format. Articulate the differences between reading a drama and reading a short story. Comment, too, on the experience of reading a drama versus watching it performed by actors.

8.  Final Thoughts: Trifles is based on a true crime story that Susan Glaspell reported on as a journalist from 1898-1901. Do some background research on the actual events (one recommended website is and write about the increasing empathy Glaspell felt toward Margaret Hossack, the alleged murderess, as Glaspell covered the case. Do you empathize with Hossack and her fictional counterpart, Minnie Wright? Why or why not? What overall impact has the play had on you?


Please write an essay of 1200 words or more discussing the questions below. As always, begin your paper with an engaging introduction and clear thesis statement, develop each point in the body of your paper using examples and quotes from the play, and conclude your paper with a restatement of your thesis and closing remarks. In addition, be sure to maintain your credibility by including in-text citations and a reference list correctly formatted in APA style.”

Review previous IP listing and note how to develop a literary comparison-contrast essay.

Link 1: How to write an essay on a play:


Link 3: Video on Trifles:


Question: What is this play about?


The THEME of a play is the point or argument the playwright is trying to make. Often it springs from a relatively universal concept, such as the evils of power or the virtues of protecting the weak. Theme is related to but different from the subject: Where the subject of a play is specific to the setting, the plot, and the characters, the theme is the broad-based philosophical issue explored by their story. The subject of A Raisin in the Sun, for example, is racial tensions in Chicago. But the theme argues a point – that those tensions can destroy a family as well as a man’s very manhood, and that the only way to overcome the insidious oppression of even well-meaning people is to take a risk and stand your ground. Sometimes a playwright will express a theme in one or two moments of monologue or dialogue to ensure that the audience gets it.

Sometimes the theme of a play is obvious. It would be difficult to read Trifles and not understand that it argues for women to stand together against men’s tyrannies. But other times, a play’s theme can be almost impossible to pin down. It might be expressed as an observation, a problem, or a recommendation. For example, a reader of Hamlet might articulate the play’s theme as the dangers of seeking revenge (an observation), the conflict between loyalty to others and preservation of self (a problem), or, as Polonius says to Laertes, “to thine own self be true” (a recommendation). Some playwrights deliberately obscure their theme to force the audience to think. In expressing a play’s theme, then, be careful not to oversimplify. A play is not an essay that strives to logically argue a clearly stated thesis. Rather, it is a shared emotional experience designed to leave its audience with a complex understanding of an issue or idea.

Finally, remember that a play can have more than one theme-and a number of possible interpretations. That’s one of the beauties and joys of literature: How you interpret it depends not only on the author’s intentions but on what you bring to the experience.

Source for this information


This list of important quotations from “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Trifles” by Susan Glasspell listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained.  Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. 

“Nothing here but kitchen things.”

“Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her preserves.”

“Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.”

“I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticizing.”

“Said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want, for there isn’t much to get you dirty in jail…. But I suppose just to make her feel more natural.”

“But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law.”

“[L]ook at the sewing! All the rest of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It’s all over the place! Why, it looks as if she didn’t know what she was about.”

“There was a man around last year selling canaries cheap, but I don’t know as she took one; maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty herself.”

“She—come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself—real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and—fluttery.”

Source for the information above:


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