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

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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

This assignment is asking you to answer a number of

·Develop a topic sentence for each of the assignment

·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the page after.CAUTION:Do not quote more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).


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

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

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.

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

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)?

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?

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?

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

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?

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.

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
 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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