Trifles Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What genre does the play Trifles fall into? Why?

Trifles is a one-act play based on actual events that occurred in Iowa at the turn of the century. As such, it falls largely into the genre of crime mysteries. However, based on the play’s themes, it also reflects the genre of feminist drama.

2. Upon what historic murder trial are the events in Trifles based?

The actual events upon which the play is based involve the murder trial of a farmer's wife, Margaret Hossack, in Indianola, Iowa. Hossack was accused of killing her husband, John, by striking him twice in the head with an ax while he slept.

3. What was the outcome of the murder trial upon which the events in Trifles are based?

Initially, it was assumed that burglars had murdered the farmer, but a subsequent investigation turned up evidence suggesting Mrs. Hossack was unhappy in her marriage. Ultimately, she was charged with and found guilty of the crime, but appealed her life sentence and was freed.

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