The Rat Trap

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The warmth of compassion extends its rays around the world, engraving mankind with its characteristic. Selma Legerlof supports the theory of compassion in her modern day short story "The Rat Trap" which depicts the powerful and positive impacts of such care. In the story, cynicism grips the protagonist rat trap peddler until the old man and the blacksmith's daughter infect the protagonist with their altruism. Thus, the peddler's inner soul experiences a rapid transformation form an ugly duckling to a dazzling swan.

Legerlof's first scene of compassion is from the old man's hospitality. Despite the fact that he did not know the peddler, the old man still opened his arms and acted charitable by providing food and shelter. This action is not typical in the today's world; a majority of us would turn a blind eye. However, although the old man showed a sign of compassion, it was not appreciated—the protagonist stole from the old man. As the peddler ponders on the road of guilt, he soon receives a second action of care from a little girl. Compassion is illustrated when the blacksmith's daughter takes pity on the protagonist. Although she knew the fact that he was not Captain von Stahle, whom he claimed to be, the girl said, " I think he ought to stay with us today. I don't want him to go." The girl's compassionate words cracked the foundation of the protagonist's cynical world. Throughout the story, the protagonist only believed in the dismal side of human nature, survival of the fittest, and viewed the world as a battlefield. His whole belief system was shattered when he received the girl's pity and an opportunity to enjoy his first "true" Christmas.

Lagerlof's "The Rat Trap" strongly validates the concept that compassion revolves around humankind. She provides evidence when the old man and the blacksmith's daughter show compassion towards the protagonist. As a result, the girl acted as the North Star, guiding the protagonist out of the trap of cynicism and into a...
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