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? Doyou frequently watch television programs or movies? Nowadays, drama is morepopular in American culture than ever before. Yet what some forget is that itis a literary art form crafted by playwrights, TV and comedy writers, andHollywood screenwriters. Drama shares many of the same elements as fiction andpoetry; however, this literary genre is designed to be acted out on astage or “dramatized” in front of screen audiences.

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

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

This assignment is asking you to answer a number ofquestions

·Develop a topic sentence for each of the assignmentprompts.

·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RULE:Add the author, insert the quote in quote marks, and addthe page after.CAUTION:Do not quote morethan 39 words.

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


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

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


Review this link on how tointerpret plays: Link 1: Instructions:

Note: You must have citations and areferences page; lack of these will impact your grade in several key areas inthe grading matrix, including “Define Key Course Concepts (Identify andSummarize 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 fromthat 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 readingyou will find your rhythm and be able to follow the story with littledifficulty. 

Please write anessay 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 theplay, and conclude your paper with a restatement of your thesis and closingremarks. In addition, be sure to maintain your credibility by including in-textcitations and a reference list correctly formatted in APA style.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Final Thoughts: Trifles isbased on a true crime story that Susan Glaspell reported on as a journalistfrom 1898-1901. Do some background research on the actual events (onerecommended website is and write aboutthe increasing empathy Glaspell felt toward Margaret Hossack, the allegedmurderess, as Glaspell covered the case. Do you empathize with Hossack and herfictional counterpart, Minnie Wright? Why or why not? What overall impact hasthe play had on you?


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

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

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


Link 3: Video on Trifles:


Question: Whatis this play about?


The THEME of a play is the point or argument theplaywright is trying to make. Often it springs from a relatively universalconcept, 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 playis specific to the setting, the plot, and the characters, the theme is thebroad-based philosophical issue explored by their story. The subject of ARaisin in the Sun, for example, is racial tensions in Chicago. But thetheme argues a point – that those tensions can destroy a family as well as aman’s very manhood, and that the only way to overcome the insidious oppressionof even well-meaning people is to take a risk and stand your ground. Sometimesa playwright will express a theme in one or two moments of monologue ordialogue to ensure that the audience gets it.

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

Finally, remember that a play can have more thanone theme-and a number of possible interpretations. That’s one of the beautiesand joys of literature: How you interpret it depends not only on the author’sintentions 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 thesisstatements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the importantquotes from “Trifles” by Susan Glasspell listed here correspond, at least insome way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideasfor an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols,imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained.  Aside fromthe thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions orstudy 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 andworryin’ 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 herfeel more natural.”

“But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law.”

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

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

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

Source for the information above:

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