For this essay, you will compare two versions of the same story. Susan Glaspell wrote the play Trifles about the discovery of a woman’s motive for killing her husband in 1916, which she followed with a retelling of the plot in the form of a short story a year later. The dialogue of both works is nearly identical, although the short story is approximately 3,000 words longer than the play—this means the short story offers readers information that is not included in the written text of the play.
As you read take note of the differences and similarities between the two works. In particular, pay attention to the stage directions of the play and what they indicate about where and how characters move (or don’t move), as well as to the relationship between the stage directions and the dialogue and what the combination of the two reveal about where and how characters move (or not). How is the information presented in the stage directions of the play–in combination with the dialogue–communicated in the short story? Where is it the same and where does it diverge or include information that was not at all present in the written text of the play?
For this assignment, your task is to compose an organized, focused, and clearly argued comparative literary analysis essay that examines the subtle thematic difference between Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” based on your analysis of the language used to indicate where and how the characters do or do not move. What conflict is revealed by examining the movement of the characters (or lack of) and how is the conflict revealed in the play different from the conflict revealed in the short story? (You may focus on one or more characters in the play; just make sure your thesis is sufficiently focused if you focus on multiple characters.)
Quoted and paraphrased material from both the play (including stage directions) and the short story must be smoothly integrated into the essay. Correct in-text MLA citations and a Work Cited list are required.
For this essay, our focus will be on the following:
audience awareness titles & introductory paragraphs thesis statements analytical paragraphs quoting & citing drama and fiction identifying themes argument structure concluding paragraphs Word count: 1250-1500 words
Read both the short story and the play by Susan Glaspell, which you will compare for the second essay. As you read take note of the differences and similarities between the two works. In particular, pay attention to the stage directions of the play (which was written first) and how the information about the setting and where and how the characters move is or isn’t communicated in the short story.
Glaspell, Susan. “A Jury of Her Peers.” The Best Short Stories of 1917, edited by Edward J. O’Brien, Small, Maynard & Company, 1918, pp. 256-282, Project Gutenberg,
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20872/20872-h/20872-h.htm#A_JURY_OF_HER_PEERS11 (Links to an external site.).
Additional formatting options for reading the short story: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20872 (Links to an external site.)
–. Trifles. Plays. Small, Maynard & Company, 1920, pp. 1-30, Project Gutenberg, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59432/59432-h/59432-h.htm#Page_1 (Links to an external site.).
Additional formatting options for reading the play: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/59432 (Links to an external site.)
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