Drama Paper Assignment

For your drama paper, you can write about either of the short plays, No Crime or Trifles, or about both of the plays. Just as you did for

the short story paper, you have your choice of writing a traditional analysis or a more creative paper. Here are three general approaches

to writing about the plays, with specific topics under each approach that can be developed into an essay:

1. Write a character analysis.
Choose one of the important characters in the play, for instance, Mrs. Peters or Mrs. Hale in Trifles, or Cal or Jim in No Crime. Or you

could write about one of the important characters NOT in the play, such as Mr. Wright or Minnie Wright in Trifles. Focus your analysis on

the character’s most important traits. Besides analyzing the character, you should also explain how the character’s personality or actions

influence other characters or contribute to the drama. An alternative to analyzing one character would be to analyze two characters, such

as comparing Cal to Jim or Mr. Hale to Mrs. Hale, considering how the differences between these characters contribute to the drama.

Advice: See pages 437-440 in Literature for Composition for an explanation of how to write a character analysis. The text includes two good

sample introductions with effective thesis statements. See also the questions about “Character” under “Getting Ideas for Writing About

Drama” on pages 440-441 to start analyzing a character.
2. Write a creative paper responding to Trifles or to No Crime.
Possible creative topics include:
• Interview one (or more) of the characters to explain something important about the play. For instance,

you might interview the women in Trifles to understand how they figure out the clues and why they cover up for Minnie. You might interview

Cal to understand why he is willing to defend a guilty man.
• Assume that the canary has been found, thereby revealing a possible motive, and that Minnie Wright is indicted for murder. You are the

defense attorney (you might even imagine you are Cal from No Crime!)—set forth your defense. Take any position you wish. For instance,

you may want to argue that she committed justifiable homicide or that—on the basis of her behavior as reported by Mr. Hale—she is innocent

by reason of insanity.
• Assume that the canary has been found and Minnie Wright convicted. Compose the speech you think she might have delivered before the

sentence was given.
You can read one student’s creative approach to writing about Trifles. Although written for Women’s Literature class, the student

effectively writes a letter to Susan Glaspell explaining the central theme of the story and how the women are able to figure out the clues

(when the men cannot): SampleTriflesCreativePaper.pdf
3. Chose one of the specific prompts to develop into an essay:
• The title of the play is ironic, since the “trifles” in the story are important. Explain the irony of the title and how it is important

to the theme of the play. (An alternative would be to write about the title of the play No Crime–What does this title mean? Why is it

• How is it that the women are able to piece together the clues to the crime, but the men are not? What does this tell us about the

attitude of the men toward the women and of the women toward Mrs. Wright?
• We never see Mrs. Wright on stage. Nevertheless, by the end of Trifles we know a great deal about her. Explain both what we know about

her—physical characteristics, habits, interests, personality, life before her marriage and after—and how we know these things. Also,

consider why Mrs. Wright is not present in the drama: how does this add to the play?
• In order to be convicted of murder, one must have a motive and a method for killing. Explain how Minnie Wright’s motive for killing her

husband and her method of killing him (strangling him with a rope) are connected.
• Both No Crime and Trifles deal with the issue of defending a guilty murderer. Do you think that murder is ever justified? Do you think

that murder is justified either in the case of Minnie Wright (in Trifles) or in the case of the man who confessed to bashing in a woman’s

head with a baseball bat (in No Crime)?
You can read one student’s essay in response to the questions: How is it that the women are able to piece together the clues to the crime,

but the men are not? What does this tell us about the attitude of the men toward the women and of the women toward Mrs. Wright?

Drama Essay Criteria
In this paper, I will be looking for:
• a clear thesis that makes an interesting assertion about the play
• consistency in your interpretation
• supporting evidence from the text, such as quotes or summarized examples
• explanation of how the textual evidence supports your interpretation
• effective organization with logical development of ideas
• in-depth, thoughtful analysis of the story
• clear, correct, and coherent writing
Other Requirements:
• Prepare your paper following the guidelines in Appendix A for the basic manuscript form, quotations, parenthetical citations, and

list of Works Cited. Basically this means use MLA style. The sample student papers in Literature for Composition are excellent examples of

how to format the essay.
Write about 750-1250 words, or about 3-5 pages.

Book info:
Barnet, Sylvan, et al. “Trifles.” Literature for Composition: An Introduction to Literature, 10th ed., Pearson, 2017, pp. 443-452.