An Arabic translation of Susan Glaspell's play, "Trifles"

Abbas Brashi


This is an Arabic translation of “Trifles”, a famous play by prominent American playwright Susan Glaspell (1876-1948). Glaspell was one of the founders of the Playwright’s Theatre, formerly recognized as the Provincetown Players in the United States of America. She wrote ten novels, twenty plays, and more than forty short stories. “Trifles” is a one-act play written in 1916.2 It is considered to be one of Susan Glaspell’s major works. “Trifles” is a play that is frequently anthologized in American literature textbooks. The play was based on the murder case of the sixty-year-old farmer, John Hossack, which was covered widely by Susan Glaspell while she was working as a journalist with the Des Moines Daily News immediately after her graduation from Drake University. Accordingly, “Trifles” presents the murder of an oppressive husband by his emotionally abused wife. It is an attempt to re-address the John Hossack case from the point of view of women who might not have a similar viewpoint of the nature of marital disagreement and domestic unhappiness.3 The murder happened in a period where women had insufficient protection from domestic abuse, and had not yet obtained the right to vote. The main characters of the play are: 1- The Sheriff, Mr. Henry Peters; 2- Mrs. Peters(wife of the Sheriff); 3- Mr. Lewis Hale (a neighbour of Mr. and Mrs. Wright); 4- Mrs. Hale (wife of Mr. Hale); and 5- The County Attorney, Mr. George Henderson. The off-stage characters are: 1- Mr. John Write (the victim); 2-Mrs. Minnie Write (the victim’s wife); 3- Frank (Deputy Sheriff); 4- Harry (a helper of Mr.Lewis Hale); 5- Dr. Lloyd (the coroner). The play addressed the life of Mrs. Wright who becameenraged and took the life of her abusive and violent husband after he killed her bird. The motivefor murder was the killing of the canary because it represented freedom for her. Mrs. Wright, theprotagonist, lived through a series of emotions, such as rage, shock, lack of feeling, rejection,and deep sadness, mainly because the loss of her bird was sudden, surprising and unforeseen.4 She considered the death of her bird as a great calamity, as she lost something extremely crucialin her life. Susan Glaspell chose the title of the play from a line stated by one of the characters inthe play, Mr. Lewis Hale, when he says: “Well, women are used to worrying about trifles.” The title demonstrates irony when Mrs. Minnie Wright seemed to be more concerned about triflesthan she is about being under arrest for murder. This English play, “Trifles,” was chosen to betranslated into Arabic because of its significance and association to the Arab culture. For thesake of wide readability, it was translated into Modern Standard Arabic (formal Arabic), as it isquite the same in all Arab countries.


Susan Glaspell, Trifles, Drama Translation, Literary Translation, Arabic Translation

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The translator, Abbas Brashi, has obtained sole permission from the Executor of Susan Glaspell's Estate, Ms Valentina A. Cook, to translate Susan Glaspell's play "Trifles" into Arabic and publish it.

Ben-Zvi, L., & Gainor, J. E. (Eds.) (2010). Susan Glaspell: The complete plays. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland & Company.

Hilton, L. (2011). Trifles, by Susan Glaspell. Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, 21(1), 147-149.

Sutton, B. (2008). A different kind of the same thing: Marie de France's Laüstic and Glaspell's Trifles. The Explicator, 66(3), 170-174.



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