The Rattrap

Topics: Selma Lagerlöf, Human, Empathy Pages: 2 (762 words) Published: February 27, 2013
"The Rat Trap" written by Selma Lagerlof is a short story about a dispirited vagrant and thief who is taken in and displayed generosity and kindness by a young woman. Her kindness succeeds in altering his embittered and cynical approach towards life. The tramp is a hapless man who has fallen upon misfortune and now resorts to selling rattraps, mendicancy, and larceny. He is extremely pessimistic and indignant in his attitude towards the world around him and regards it as merely a "rat trap". He deems that society lures and entices us with riches and fair things, and on yielding to such temptations, we are caught forebodingly in the trap and with the passage of time abandoned to materialistic, moral and spiritual destruction. The warmth of compassion or tenderness protracts its rays around the world, engraving mankind with its characteristic. Selma Lagerlof patronizes the theme of “compassion” and “empathy” in her modern day short story "The Rat Trap" which adroitly limns the potent 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 and philanthropy. Thus, the peddler's inner soul experiences an elaborate metamorphosis from an ugly duckling to a pristine swan.

Lagerlof’s first scene of compassion triggers from the old man's copiousness of hospitality and warmth in the reception of his guest, the rattrap seller. Despite the fact that he did not know the peddler, the old man still threw open his arms and behaved charitably by providing food and shelter to the homeless wanderer. This action is not typical in today's world; a majority of us would turn a blind eye or one of suspicion, distrust or derision. However, although the old man showed a sign of concern, it was not appreciated—the protagonist stole money from the old man. As the peddler ponders on the road of guilt, he soon receives a second action of care from...
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