ESSAY #3 ON “TRIFLES”

TOPIC AND DIRECTIONS

Congratulations! Your outstanding work on earlier projects this summer has earned you the job of your dreams: Superior Court Judge of the Southern Tier of the State of New York.

Your delight is tempered, though, by the first assignment that you take up. It is the strange and puzzling case of two women who chose to hide the evidence that a neighbor woman murdered her husband. Your job is to decide whether the two women should be prosecuted and the case brought to court.

Of course Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters have their reasons for deciding not to “snitch” on Minnie Wright, but it is very serious to hide evidence and prevent the authorities from doing their duty to protect society. Do you think that the case should be tried in court and they should be prosecuted for their actions?

The essay you write is the statement of your decision. Your audience is your fellow judges on the Superior Court and your goal is to convince them that your decision is best for society under the circumstances. Your primary source of evidence is Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles.” Also use evidence from the Power and Control Wheel and the film “A Jury of Her Peers” to support and develop your points. Do not look for ideas or evidence from any other source.

HOW TO ORGANIZE THE ESSAY

INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH

Introduce to your fellow judges:

·         The situation you are dealing with

·         The play you draw your primary evidence from

·         A powerful statement of the most important and overall reason for your decision

Remember that an introduction is best when it is brief but at the same time focused and direct. It shouldn’t have lots of details; save these for the body paragraphs where we can develop them effectively. Also aim to get your audience interested in your topic so they will want to listen to the full presentation to find out in depth the reasons for your decision.

PARAGRAPH #2

Take your audience on a tour of Minnie Wright’s home. Show them the events that take place during the play before Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters discover the birdcage and dead bird. Make it clear how this evidence supports your decision regarding the two women. Use either the Power and Control Wheel or the film “A Jury of Her Peers” to support your points.

PARAGRAPH #3

Focus on the women’s decision-making process in deciding to hide the evidence and save Minnie from a trial. Look closely at the evidence and its symbolism. Were the women thinking clearly as they came to the conclusion to shield Minnie from the law? Make it clear how this evidence supports your decision regarding the two women. Use either the Power and Control Wheel or the film “A Jury of Her Peers” to support your points.

PARAGRAPH #4

Use the counter-argument technique to support your decision. There is no doubt that some of your colleagues will disagree with your decision. Think of the most important reason they will have for disagreeing:

·         Begin the paragraph by explaining their concerns. Be thorough and respectful in explaining this reason they disagree. Show you have already thought it through and you’re on top of this.

·         Use a “turn” like “However, …,” “I have considered this objection carefully and concluded that….” etc. Be creative!

·         Reply fully and thoughtfully to your colleagues. Don’t make it personal by saying “I disagree…” It’s not about you and them. It’s about careful evaluation of the evidence and reasons. Therefore, treat your colleagues and their concerns respectfully by showing that your reasoning is more appropriate in this case.

·         Use evidence from the play to show them that your reasons weigh more heavily in this case and so your decision is best. Use either the Power and Control Wheel or the film “A Jury of Her Peers” to support your points.

CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH

Describe how the issues the play deals with still apply in the modern world and our own lives (or don’t apply). Use this opportunity to end the document on a powerful statement of your overall position.

KEY POINTS

·         Plan your essay before you begin writing. Follow the directions in organizing it.

·         Plan on using evidence from the play regularly and effectively. Then put the text away while you write your essay. If you write with the text open in front of you, you will copy from it.

·         Also use evidence from the Power and Control Wheel and the film “A Jury of Her Peers” to support your points. The film can be accessed on YouTube.

·         Remember that your audience is your fellow judges on the Superior Court.

·         Do not repeat the prompt word for word in your introduction. Create a way to introduce the topic that will interest a reader.

·         When composing paragraphs #2 & 3, begin with your reason or point. Explain it carefully. Then develop it and support it with specific details from the play. Build on these details and work with them.

·         Use the format we practiced in the quoting exercises to use quotes in body paragraphs for evidence and cite them.

·         Do not summarize the plot. Your reader needs reasons and explanations, not plot summary, to understand your point of view. Stay focused on supporting your thesis with reasons and supporting points.

·         Double space so readers can appreciate your reasoning and observations.

·         Proofread after you finish writing. Check carefully for obvious mistakes that slipped your attention. Ask yourself if each sentence expresses your meaning clearly and use a dictionary.