“The Rat Trap” Literary Analysis
Plot Summary: “The Rat Trap” by Selma Lagerlöf describes the life of a man who sells rat traps. The-rat trap peddler realizes that the whole world is a rat-trap. He falls into life’s rat-trap, starting when he stays at an old man’s house and succumbs to the temptation of stealing the man’s money. He avoids the town and wanders through the woods to escape being caught by the police. The rat-trap peddler stays at a furnace, where the ironmaster talks to him, thinking he is an old friend. The rat-trap peddler goes along with the ironmaster in hopes of getting money. His plan backfires, and instead, the ironmaster invites the peddler to his house. Although the rat-trap peddler refuses to go, he is eventually persuaded by the ironmaster’s daughter, Elda Wilmansson. At the ironmaster’s house, the rat-trap peddler bathes and shaves. The ironmaster then realizes that he has been deceived; he doesn’t know the man that he thought was an old friend. Instead of informing the police, the ironmaster orders him to leave. His daughter, Elda, intervenes, pointing out that it would not be right to chase someone away whom they have invited to their house for Christmas. The peddler is amazed and inspired by Elda’s compassion. The next morning, Elda and her father learn at church that the peddler stole 30 kronor from an old crofter. Assuming that their belongings were stolen, Elda and her father returned home. To their surprise, the valet says that nothing was taken. The peddler left a Christmas present for Elda. Inside the package was a letter, along with the money he had stolen from the old crofter. The letter explained that Elda honored the peddler, allowing him to have the power to clear himself of his wrongdoing. Characterization: The characters in the story are the rat trap peddler, the old crofter man, the ironmaster, and Elda Wilmansson (the ironmaster’s daughter.) Rat-Trap Peddler
| The rat trap peddler is a sad, lonely man who sells rat...
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