Class 12- “The Rattrap” MCQ and Complete Analysis

The Rattrap,The Crofter,The Ironmaster,The Rattrap Peddler,Selma Lagerlöf

“The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf- MCQs, Summary, Character Sketches, Theme, Important Lines, Textbook Question/ Answers.

Chapter 4- The Rattrap by Selma Lagerlöf:

Next on Flamingo: Chapter 5- “Indigo” by Louis Fischer, Chapter 6- Poets And Pancakes” by Asokamitan


Bait: Something used to lure or attract someone into a trap.
*Barge: A flat-bottomed boat used for transporting goods.
*Bellows: A device for producing a strong current of air used to stoke a fire.
*Bossy: A colloquial term for a cow.
*Christmas fish and porridge: Traditional Swedish Christmas dishes, often served during the holiday season.
*Charcoal: A black substance made by burning wood slowly in a closed space.
Compassionately: With sympathy and concern for others’ suffering.
Confidences: Secrets or private matters shared with someone else.
Condescend: To show feelings of superiority; to patronise.
*Crofter: (Scotland)A person who rents and works a small farm or croft.
Dejectedly: In a depressed or disheartened manner.
Dissimulate: To conceal one’s true feelings or intentions.
*Forge: A workshop where metal is heated and shaped.
Haughty: Arrogantly superior and disdainful.
Indifferently: Without interest or concern.
Intercede: To intervene or mediate on behalf of someone.
*Ironmaster: The owner or manager of an ironworks.
*Maw: The opening or mouth of a furnace.
Meditations: Deep thoughts or contemplations.
Monotonous: Dull, repetitive, lacking in variety.
*Mjolis: A card game mentioned in the story, likely a local or regional card game.
*Parson: A member of the clergy, especially a Protestant minister.
*Pig iron: Crude iron was first obtained from a smelting furnace.
Puckered: Wrinkled or creased, often due to frowning or contraction.
Regiment: A military unit typically consisting of several battalions.
*Scow: A flat-bottomed boat with a square or sloping bow and stern used to transport goods.
*Sheriff: A law enforcement officer with varying duties and powers in different jurisdictions.
Smelter: A person or device that melts ore to extract metal.
*Stjernstrom: is the surname of one of the characters in the story, a Swedish surname.
*Valet: A man’s male attendant.
Vagabond: A person wanders from place to place without a home or job.

* Region-specific words or Vocabulary specific to a particular field.
** Important Phrases

**Eased his way: This expression suggests moving smoothly or effortlessly. In the story, it indicates the man’s ability to gain access to the crofter’s cottage without encountering resistance.
**Fallen into a line of thought: This phrase suggests becoming absorbed or engrossed in a particular train of thought or idea. The story indicates the man’s immersion in his reflections about the world being a rattrap.
**Hunger gleamed in his eyes: This phrase suggests that the man’s eyes showed signs of intense hunger, indicating his desperate need for food and sustenance.
**Impenetrable prison: This phrase describes the feeling of being trapped or confined, unable to escape. The story reflects the man’s realisation that he has fallen into his mental trap, feeling hopeless and confined within his thoughts.
**Keep body and soul together: This expression implies struggling to survive to maintain one’s physical and spiritual well-being despite hardships. The story suggests the man’s effort to sustain himself physically and spiritually, likely through begging and petty thievery.
**Nodded a haughty consent: This indicates giving a proud or arrogant agreement. In the story, it suggests the crofter’s condescending approval of the man’s request for shelter.
**Plods along the road: This expression implies walking wearily or slowly, perhaps with monotony or fatigue. The story’s context conveys the man’s dreary and tiresome journey along the road as he contemplates his thoughts.
**Unwonted joy: “Unwonted” means unusual or not customary. Here, the phrase suggests that the man experiences an unexpected or rare joy as he contemplates his thoughts about the world being a big rattrap.
**Things have gone downhill: This expression means that circumstances or situations have worsened or deteriorated over time. The story implies that the man’s life has declined, likely due to poverty and hardship.

Summary “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf:

The story revolves around a vagabond who sells rattraps made of wire to make a living. He sees the world as a big rattrap, where people are lured by bait and then trapped. One evening, he seeks shelter at a kind older man’s cottage, steals money from him, and gets lost in a forest. Eventually, he finds himself at Ramsjo Ironworks, where he is mistaken for an old acquaintance by the Ironmaster.

The Ironmaster invites him to his home for Christmas despite the vagabond’s reluctance. His daughter, Edla, shows compassion for him and insists he stay. Throughout the day, the vagabond sleeps peacefully and is treated kindly. He is gifted a new suit by the Ironmaster and invited to return next Christmas.

After the family attends church on Christmas Day, they discover that the vagabond is a thief who had robbed a crofter. However, he leaves behind a rattrap with money and a letter to Edla. In the letter, he explains his actions and expresses gratitude for the kindness shown to him. The story ends with Edla feeling touched by the vagabond’s gesture.

Theme “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf:

The story ‘The Rattrap’ by Selma Lagerlof explores themes of deception, redemption, and the trap of materialism that ensnares many individuals. 

The Trap of Material Benefit:

The story’s central theme revolves around the idea that the world is akin to a rattrap, enticing individuals with material wealth and comfort only to ensnare them in its traps. The rattrap symbolises the allure of worldly possessions and desires that often lead people astray.

Throughout the narrative, characters such as the tramp and the ironmaster are depicted as being lured by the promise of riches and comfort, only to realise the emptiness and deceitfulness of these pursuits. The tramp, in particular, falls victim to the temptation of stolen money, which ultimately leads him into a forest where he feels trapped and hopeless.


Human Tendency to Redeem Oneself

Amidst deception and materialism, a sub-theme explores the human tendency to seek redemption and atone for past wrongs. This theme is exemplified through the actions of the tramp, who, despite his initial dishonesty, ultimately chooses to return the stolen money and express gratitude to those who showed him kindness.

The character of the Ironmaster’s daughter, Edla Willmansson, also embodies this sub-theme through her compassionate and forgiving nature. Despite being deceived by the tramp, she chooses to extend grace and hospitality, believing in the possibility of his redemption.

To conclude, ‘The Rattrap’ delves into the complexities of human nature, illustrating how individuals can become trapped by the pursuit of material gain and deceit, yet also highlighting the potential for redemption and forgiveness amidst life’s traps and challenges.

Important Lines “The Rattrap”:

  • “The world about him — the whole world with its lands and seas, its cities and villages — was nothing but a big rattrap.”: The protagonist sees the world as a trap, where people are lured by material comforts and then trapped by circumstances.
  • “He did not try to get in, however. He only went up to the window, smashed a pane, stuck in his hand, and got hold of the pouch with the thirty kronor.”: The protagonist resorts to theft to survive, showcasing his desperation and lack of ethical boundaries.
  • “Now his own turn had come. He had let himself be fooled by a bait and had been caught.”: The protagonist realises that he has fallen into the trap he likened to the world, highlighting the irony of his situation.
  • “I am thinking of this stranger here. He walks and walks the whole year long, and there is probably not a single place in the whole country where he is welcome and can feel at home.”: Edla empathises with the stranger’s plight, recognising his perpetual homelessness and lack of social acceptance.
  • “If he wanted to spend next Christmas Eve in a place where he could rest in peace, and be sure that no evil would befall him, he would be welcomed back again.”: Edla’s invitation to the stranger reflects her compassion and willingness to offer him a sense of belonging and security despite his past actions.
  • “It was not quite honest, either. You must admit that, and I should not be surprised if the sheriff would like to have something to say in the matter.”: This line reflects the ironmaster’s recognition of the dishonesty in the stranger’s actions. It hints at the potential consequences the stranger might face for deception and theft, indicating the presence of societal norms and legal repercussions.
  • “It looks as though Captain von Stahle preferred to stay with you tonight, Stjernstrom,” This statement highlights the ironmaster’s attempt to save face and avoid directly confronting the stranger’s deceit. It also emphasizes the irony of the situation, as the stranger assumes the identity of Captain von Stahle to gain acceptance and hospitality.
  • “But just as the man was opening the door, the daughter said, ‘I think he ought to stay with us today. I don’t want him to go.’ And with that she went and closed the door.”: This moment illustrates Edla’s empathy and compassion towards the stranger. Despite societal expectations and her father’s reservations, she extends kindness and hospitality to someone in need, challenging the norms of judgment and exclusion.
  • Yes, that was a fine fellow you let into the house,” said her father. “I only wonder how many silver spoons are left in the cupboard by this time.”: The ironmaster’s comment highlights the prevailing scepticism and distrust towards individuals perceived as outsiders or vagabonds. It reflects the societal tendency to assume the worst about those who do not conform to societal standards or expectations.
  • “The rattrap is a Christmas present from a rat who would have been caught in this world’s rattrap if he had not been raised to captain, because in that way he got power to clear himself.”: The letter’s closing line symbolises the stranger’s transformation and redemption. Acknowledging Edla’s kindness and returning the stolen money, he demonstrates a newfound sense of honour and integrity. The metaphor of the “rattrap” represents the traps and temptations of the world, suggesting that redemption is possible through acts of genuine kindness and compassion.
  • “The world had, of course, never been very kind to him, so it gave him unwonted joy to think ill of it in this way.”: This line encapsulates the protagonist’s cynical worldview, shaped by his experiences of hardship and rejection. It highlights his inclination to view the world as inherently deceptive and hostile, reflecting his alienation and disillusionment.
  • “No one can imagine how sad and monotonous life can appear to such a vagabond, who plods along the road, left to his own meditations.”: This line offers insight into the loneliness and despair experienced by the protagonist. It emphasises the isolating nature of his existence and the emotional toll of his marginalised status in society.
  • “The man with the rattraps said not a word; he only sat down and helped himself to the food.”: This moment highlights the protagonist’s guarded nature and reluctance to trust others. Despite being offered kindness and hospitality, he remains aloof and reserved, reflecting his deep-seated wariness and sense of self-preservation.
  • “But while he was riding up to the manor house he had evil forebodings.”: This line foreshadows the protagonist’s apprehension and sense of impending trouble. It hints at his awareness of the precariousness of his situation and the potential consequences of his actions, underscoring the theme of fate and destiny.
  • “It seems as though for many years he had not been able to sleep as quietly and safely as here at Ramsjo.” This line marks a pivotal moment of respite and tranquillity for the protagonist. It symbolises his brief reprieve from the hardships and uncertainties of his nomadic existence, highlighting the transformative power of compassion and acceptance.
  • “The next day both men got up in good season. The crofter was in a hurry to milk his cow, and the other man probably thought he should not stay in bed when the head of the house had gotten up.”: This line juxtaposes the crofter’s industriousness with the protagonist’s opportunism. It emphasises the contrast between their lifestyles and the theme of socioeconomic disparity.
  • “He did not try to get in, however. He only went up to the window, smashed a pane, stuck in his hand, and got hold of the pouch with the thirty kronor.”: This line depicts the protagonist’s resort to theft to survive. It emphasises the desperation and moral ambiguity of his actions, highlighting the harsh realities faced by marginalised individuals.

Character Sketches “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf

1. The Protagonist (Rattrap Peddler): 

The protagonist, the Rattrap Peddler, is a complex character whose journey forms the central narrative arc of “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf.

  • Desperation and Poverty: The Rattrap Peddler is a vagabond living on the margins of society. He is destitute, surviving through begging, petty theft, and the sale of homemade rattraps. His impoverished circumstances contribute to his cynical outlook on life.
  • Cynical Outlook: The protagonist views the world as a “big rattrap” designed to trap unsuspecting individuals with false promises of wealth and happiness. His experiences of hardship and betrayal have fostered a deep-seated distrust of society and its institutions.
  • Loneliness and Alienation: The Rattrap Peddler leads a solitary existence, wandering from place to place. He lacks meaningful connections and struggles to accept and belong in a world that has largely rejected him. His isolation exacerbates his feelings of disillusionment and despair.
  • Opportunism and Survival Instincts: Despite his moral ambiguity, the protagonist exhibits resourcefulness and adaptability in his quest for survival. He resorts to theft and deception to meet his basic needs, reflecting the harsh realities of those living on society’s fringes.
  • Redemption and Transformation: Through his encounter with the crofter and Edla Willmansson, the protagonist experiences a gradual transformation. Their acts of kindness and compassion challenge his pessimistic worldview and awaken within him a glimmer of hope for redemption. He ultimately chooses to return the stolen money and embrace the possibility of a new beginning.
  • Symbolism: The Rattrap Peddler serves as a symbolic representation of humanity’s capacity for both deception and redemption. His journey from cynicism to empathy highlights the transformative power of compassion and the inherent goodness that lies dormant within every individual.

The Rattrap Peddler’s character embodies themes of poverty, loneliness, redemption, and the search for meaning in a world fraught with deception and hardship. His evolution throughout the story highlights the enduring human quest for connection, understanding, and forgiveness.

2. Edla Willmansson:

Edla Willmansson is a crucial character in “The Rattrap,” her role is significant in shaping the narrative and exploring themes of kindness, compassion, and societal expectations. 

  • Compassionate and Empathetic: Edla stands out for her human nature. The protagonist’s plight moves her despite societal norms that typically encourage her to dismiss or fear him. Her empathy becomes a driving force in the story.
  • Defies Social Expectations: Edla challenges societal expectations and norms by extending kindness to the vagabond. Instead of conforming to the prejudices against a wandering peddler, she sees beyond his appearance and offers him shelter and acceptance.
  • Resilient and Assertive: Edla shows resilience in her decision to stand by her choice of helping the stranger, even when met with scepticism from her father and potential risks associated with the vagabond’s presence. She asserts her values of compassion and hospitality.

Role in the Story:

  • Catalyst for Redemption: Edla’s kindness catalyses the vagabond’s redemption. Her genuine concern and acceptance create a transformative experience for him, challenging his cynical view of the world.
  • Symbol of Hope: Edla symbolises hope and the potential for positive change in the face of societal prejudices. Her actions represent a counter-narrative to the prevailing mistrust and suspicion.
  • Contrast to Father’s Views: Edla’s character highlights the contrast between generations and perspectives. While her father represents societal scepticism, Edla embodies a more compassionate and open-minded worldview.

Character Development:

  • Edla undergoes a subtle but impactful transformation in the story. Her interactions with the vagabond challenge her initial perceptions, leading to a deeper understanding of humanity and the capacity for redemption.

3. Captain von Stahle:

Captain von Stahle is a fictional character created by the protagonist in “The Rattrap.” While Captain von Stahle does not physically appear in the story, his presence significantly shapes the narrative and the protagonist’s actions. 

  • Imaginary Persona: Captain von Stahle is a fictional character fabricated by the protagonist, the rattrap peddler, as part of his deception to gain acceptance and hospitality from others. He adopts this persona to present himself as someone of higher social standing and respectability.
  • Symbol of Respectability: Captain von Stahle represents the protagonist’s desire for dignity and recognition in a society that has marginalised him. By assuming this identity, the protagonist seeks to transcend his circumstances and gain validation from those around him.
  • Source of Hope: The concept of Captain von Stahle serves as a source of hope and aspiration for the protagonist. It allows him to temporarily escape the harsh realities of his life and envision a better future where he is treated with respect and kindness.
  • Reflection of the Protagonist’s Longing: The creation of Captain von Stahle reflects the protagonist’s longing for belonging and acceptance. It emphasises his yearning for connection and his belief that adopting a different identity will lead to a more fulfilling existence.
  • Irony and Deception: The use of Captain von Stahle as a guise highlights the irony and deception inherent in the protagonist’s actions. While the fictional persona initially serves as a means of survival and self-preservation, it ultimately complicates the protagonist’s relationships and highlights the complexities of truth and authenticity.

4. The Crofter:

The Crofter in “The Rattrap” is a pivotal character who embodies kindness, generosity, and compassion. 

  • Kindness and Hospitality: The Crofter is characterised by his innate kindness and generosity towards others. Despite his modest means, he readily offers shelter, food, and companionship to the protagonist, a wandering rattrap peddler who needs assistance.
  • Loneliness and Isolation: Living alone in his small cottage, the Crofter experiences a sense of loneliness and isolation. His willingness to welcome strangers into his home reflects a desire for human connection and companionship.
  • Humility and Contentment: The Crofter exudes a sense of contentment and satisfaction with his life despite his humble circumstances. He enjoys simple pleasures like sharing a meal and conversing with his unexpected guest.
  • Empathy and Understanding: The Crofter demonstrates empathy and understanding towards the protagonist’s plight, recognising the struggles those marginalised in society face. His willingness to extend kindness without judgment highlights his compassionate nature.
  • Resilience and Resourcefulness: As a former crofter, the character likely possesses a strong work ethic and a sense of resourcefulness in navigating life’s challenges. While his days of physical labour may be behind him, he remains resilient in spirit, finding fulfilment in offering assistance to others.

5. The Ironmaster:

The Ironmaster in “The Rattrap” represents wealth, power, and societal privilege. 

  • Status and Wealth: The Ironmaster is depicted as a person of considerable wealth and influence within the community. He owns Ramsjo Ironworks, a significant industrial establishment, which signifies his economic prosperity and social standing.
  • Authoritative and Commanding: As the owner of Ramsjo Ironworks, the Ironmaster exudes authority and commands respect from those around him. His presence is felt not only within his household but also within the broader community.
  • Traditional Values: The Ironmaster upholds traditional values associated with his social class. He maintains a certain level of decorum and expects others to adhere to societal norms and expectations.
  • Scepticism and Distrust: The Ironmaster harbours scepticism and distrust towards those outside his social circle despite his wealth and status. He views individuals like the protagonist with suspicion and is quick to pass judgment based on societal stereotypes.
  • Protective Instincts: The Ironmaster exhibits protective instincts towards his family and property. He is concerned about the safety and well-being of his household, particularly his daughter, Edla Willmansson.
  • Limited Perspective: While the Ironmaster embodies privilege and authority, his social status limits his perspective. He struggles to empathise with individuals from marginalised backgrounds, often viewing them through a lens of suspicion and contempt.
  • Transformation and Growth: The Ironmaster experiences transformation and growth throughout the story. His interactions with the protagonist and his daughter challenge his preconceived notions and encourage him to reassess his attitudes towards others.
  • Symbol of Class Divide: The Ironmaster symbolises of the class divide prevalent in society. His interactions with the protagonist highlight the disparities between the wealthy elite and the marginalised underclass, shedding light on social inequality and injustice issues.

Video Explanation: Chapter 4 “The Rattrap”:

Time Duration: 10 Minutes

Textbook Question/ Answers “The Rattrap”:

Think As You Read: 

Q1: From where did the peddler get the idea of the world being a rattrap? 

A1: The peddler got the idea of the world being a rattrap from his reflections and experiences as a vagabond. He saw the world as offering baits and traps to lure people into trouble, just like a rattrap offers bait to catch rats.

Q2: Why was he amused by this idea?

A2: He was amused by the idea because it provided him with a way to make sense of his own experiences and the hardships he faced. It gave him a perspective through which he could understand the world and his place in it, even if it was cynical.

Q3: Did the peddler expect the kind of hospitality that he received from the crofter? 

A3: No, the peddler did not expect the kind of hospitality he received from the crofter. He was used to being met with sour faces and rejection, but the crofter welcomed him warmly, fed him, played cards, and shared his life story. This unexpected kindness surprised the peddler.

Q4: Why was the crofter so talkative and friendly with the peddler? 

A4: The crofter was talkative and friendly with the peddler because he was lonely and welcomed the opportunity to have someone to talk to. His lack of family and companionship made him appreciate the company of the peddler despite the latter’s vagabond status.

Q5: Why did he show the thirty kroner to the peddler? 

A5: The crofter showed the thirty kroner to the peddler as a gesture of trust and perhaps also to boast about his good fortune. He wanted to share his happiness and success with someone, even if it was a passing acquaintance like the peddler.

Q6: Did the peddler respect the confidence reposed in him by the crofter?

A6: No, the peddler did not respect the trust reposed in him by the crofter. He took advantage of the crofter’s kindness and stole the thirty kroner from him when he returned to the cottage after initially leaving. This action demonstrated the peddler’s lack of integrity and gratitude. 

Q7: What made the peddler think that he had indeed fallen into a rattrap? 

A7: The peddler thought he had fallen into a rattrap because he found himself trapped in the forest, unable to find his way out despite his efforts. This situation reminded him of his philosophy that the world is like a rattrap, luring people with promises of riches and joys only to trap them in trouble and despair.

Q8: Why did the Ironmaster speak kindly to the peddler and invite him home? 

A8: The ironmaster spoke kindly to the peddler and invited him home initially because he mistook him for an old acquaintance named Nils Olof. The ironmaster remembered him fondly and wanted to offer him hospitality, believing him in need.

Q9: Why did the peddler decline the invitation?

A9: The peddler declined the invitation because he feared being recognised as an impostor. He had stolen thirty kronor from the old crofter, and he worried that if he went to the ironmaster’s home, he might be discovered and arrested. He preferred to stay in the forge, where he felt he could remain inconspicuous.

Q10: What made the peddler accept Edla Willmansson’s invitation? 

A10: The peddler accepted Edla Willmansson’s invitation because she showed him kindness and compassion. Despite his initial reluctance, her genuine concern for his well-being and her invitation to spend Christmas with them touched him.

Q11: What doubts did Edla have about the peddler? 

A11: Edla had concerns about the peddler’s background and intentions. She suspected he might have stolen something or escaped from jail, as indicated by her observation that “Either he has stolen something or else he has escaped from jail” when she saw his frightened reaction upon being awakened.

Q12: When did the ironmaster realise his mistake? 

A12: The ironmaster realised his mistake when he saw the peddler in broad daylight, well-groomed and dressed in his clothes. He recognised that he had been deceived by the stranger’s appearance in the dim light of the forge and acknowledged that it was not entirely honest of the peddler to pretend to be someone he was not.

Q13: What did the peddler say in his defence when it was clear that he was not the person the ironmaster had thought he was? 

A13: When it became clear that he was not the person the ironmaster thought he was, the peddler defended himself by acknowledging that he never pretended to be anything but a poor trader. He admitted that he had begged to stay in the forge and claimed that no harm had been done. He also mentioned that he could put on his rags again and leave if necessary.

Q14: Why did Edla still entertain the peddler even after she knew the truth about him?

A14: Edla still entertained the peddler even after she knew the truth about him because she felt empathy and compassion for him. She believed everyone deserved kindness and a chance to feel welcomed and at peace, especially during Christmas. Despite his deception, she focused on his humanity and extended his forgiveness and hospitality.

Q15: Why was Edla happy to see the gift left by the peddler? 

A15: Edla was pleased to see the gift left by the peddler because it contained three ten kronor notes and a letter. The peddler, who referred to himself as Captain von Stahle in the letter, expressed gratitude for Edla’s kindness throughout the day. 

He returned the money he had taken from the older man’s pouch, indicating that he did not want Edla embarrassed by unwittingly harbouring stolen goods. The gift and the letter showed that despite his initial deception, the peddler had a sense of honour and gratitude towards Edla, which touched her deeply.

Q16: Why did the peddler sign himself as Captain von Stahle?

A16: The peddler signed himself as Captain von Stahle as part of his ruse to gain sympathy and hospitality. He likely chose the title of captain to create an impression of respectability and dignity, which he hoped would lead to a more favourable reception by the ironmaster and his daughter. 

This persona allowed him to temporarily escape his identity as a rattrap peddler and present himself in a more respectable light, facilitating his entry into the household and his eventual redemption through Edla’s kindness.

Understanding The Text: 

Q1: How does the peddler interpret the acts of kindness and hospitality shown by the crofter, the ironmaster and his daughter?

A1: The peddler interprets the acts of kindness and hospitality directed by the crofter, the ironmaster, and his daughter, initially with suspicion and opportunism. He sees the crofter’s generosity as an opportunity to steal, the ironmaster’s invitation as a chance to escape trouble, and the daughter’s kindness as a gesture of pity or charity. 

However, as the story progresses, especially after his encounter with the daughter, he begins to see genuine goodness and compassion in their actions, eventually leading to a change of heart.

Q2: What are the instances in the story that show that the character of the ironmaster is different from that of his daughter in many ways?

A2: In Selma Lagerlöf’s “The Rattrap,” the differences between the Ironmaster and his daughter’s characters include their contrasting reactions to the peddler and their attitudes towards social status.

  1. The Ironmaster treats the peddler with suspicion and quickly judges him based on his appearance and social standing. In contrast, his daughter displays empathy and kindness towards the peddler, seeing beyond his outward appearance to his humanity.
  1. The Ironmaster’s focus is primarily on social status and appearances. He is concerned about how the peddler’s presence reflects their household and reputation. Conversely, his daughter prioritises compassion and hospitality, regardless of the peddler’s background or circumstances.
  1. While the ironmaster hesitates to extend hospitality to the peddler and is more concerned about potential theft or trouble, his daughter insists on offering kindness and support without judgment or reservation.

These instances illustrate the fundamental differences in values and priorities between the ironmaster, bound by societal expectations and status, and his daughter, who values compassion and human connection above appearances and social norms.

Q3: The story has many instances of unexpected reactions from the characters to others’ behaviour. Pick out instances of these surprises.

A3: Several cases of unexpected reactions from characters to others’ behaviour occur in Selma Lagerlöf’s “The Rattrap”:

  1. The Crofter’s Hospitality: The peddler is surprised by the crofter’s unexpected generosity and kindness when he offers him shelter, food, and companionship for the night without any apparent ulterior motive. This contrasts with the peddler’s usual experiences of rejection and suspicion from others.
  1. The Ironmaster’s Invitation: The Ironmaster’s decision to invite the peddler to his home for Christmas Eve initially surprises both the peddler and the reader, given the Ironmaster’s initial suspicion of the stranger. This unexpected invitation challenges the peddler’s cynical view of human nature and sets the stage for further surprises.
  1. The Daughter’s Compassion: The daughter’s genuine compassion and empathy towards the peddler, despite his rough appearance and dubious background, surprise her and her father. Her insistence on offering hospitality and kindness to a stranger challenges societal norms and expectations, demonstrating her capacity for understanding and acceptance.
  1. The Peddler’s Act of Redemption: The peddler’s unexpected act of returning the stolen money and leaving a gift for the daughter surprises both the ironmaster and his daughter, demonstrating a transformation in his character. This unexpected gesture highlights the peddler’s capacity for redemption and gratitude, challenging assumptions about his motives and character.

Q4: What made the peddler finally change his ways?

A4: The peddler finally changes his ways by experiencing genuine kindness and compassion from others, particularly the ironmaster’s daughter. Despite his past actions and appearance, her empathy and generosity towards him make him reconsider his cynical view of the world and inspire him to act with honesty and gratitude.

Q5: How does the metaphor of the rattrap serve to highlight the human predicament?

A5: The metaphor of the rattrap highlights the human predicament by illustrating how people can become ensnared by the temptations and traps of life. Just as the rattrap baits rats with the promise of food, the world tempts people with material comforts and desires. 

The peddler sees himself and others as rats caught in this metaphorical rattrap, constantly chasing after illusory rewards and risking getting caught in the traps of greed and dishonesty.

Q6: The peddler comes out as a person with a subtle sense of humour. How does this serve in lightening the seriousness of the theme of the story and also endear him to us?

A6: The peddler’s subtle sense of humour highlights the story’s theme’s seriousness by adding fun and ironic moments. His wry observations about the world being a rattrap and his acknowledgement of his predicament inject a certain playfulness into the narrative. 

This humour endears him to the readers and makes his transformation more relatable and human. It also helps to balance the story’s darker aspects with moments of lightness and hope.

Talking About The Text: 


1. The reader’s sympathy is with the peddler right from the

beginning of the story. Why is this so? Is the sympathy justified?

The reader’s sympathy is likely with the peddler from the story’s start because of the portrayal of his plight. The peddler is depicted as an oppressed and impoverished individual who resorts to petty thievery to survive. 

His reflective thoughts about the world being akin to a rattrap, where individuals are lured in by false promises and then ensnared, evoke empathy. Additionally, his interactions with the old man and later with Edla Willmansson showcase moments of kindness and understanding amidst his struggles. 

While sympathy for the peddler is understandable given his circumstances, whether it is justified ultimately depends on individual interpretations of morality and empathy.

2. The story also focuses on human loneliness and the need to bond with others.

The story delves into themes of human loneliness and the need for connection. The peddler’s isolation and transient lifestyle highlight the loneliness experienced by individuals on the fringes of society. 

However, his brief interactions with others, particularly with Edla Willmansson, illustrate the potential for human connection and compassion to alleviate loneliness. 

Through her kindness and hospitality, Edla offers the peddler a sense of belonging and acceptance, even temporarily.

3. Have you known/heard of an episode where a good deed or an act of kindness has changed a person’s view of the world?

Yes, there are countless real-life instances where acts of kindness or good deeds have profoundly impacted individuals’ perspectives on the world. Small gestures of compassion and understanding can have ripple effects, fostering hope, gratitude, and trust. 

Whether it’s a stranger offering assistance during a time of need or a friend providing emotional support during challenging times, such acts often leave lasting impressions and reshape one’s outlook on humanity and the world.

4. The story is both entertaining and philosophical.

Indeed, “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlof is entertaining and philosophical.


The story is structured like a traditional fairy tale, with elements of adventure, suspense, and unexpected twists. The peddler’s journey, from his initial struggles to encounters with different characters, creates a narrative that captivates the reader’s interest. 

Lagerlof’s vivid descriptions of the setting, characters, and events contribute to the story’s entertainment value, drawing readers into the world of the peddler and his experiences. 

The narrative unfolds in a manner that keeps readers engaged, with moments of tension, humour, and intrigue throughout.


Beneath the surface of its entertaining plot, “The Rattrap” explores deeper philosophical themes and ideas. Through the peddler’s musings about the world being a rattrap, Lagerlof introduces philosophical questions about human nature, the pursuit of happiness, and the concept of traps and illusions in life. 

The story prompts readers to reflect on empathy, compassion, redemption, and the transformative power of kindness. The peddler’s journey serves as a metaphor for the human condition, highlighting the struggles, temptations, and opportunities for growth that individuals encounter on their paths through life. 

Ultimately, “The Rattrap” invites readers to ponder existential questions and consider the complexities of human existence.

Working with words: 

1. The man selling rattraps is referred to by many terms such as “peddler, stranger,” etc. Pick out all such references to him. What does each of these labels indicate of the context or the attitude of the people around him? 

  • Rattrap peddler” and “stranger” indicate his occupation and unfamiliarity.
  • Vagabond,” “tramp,” “ragamuffin,” and “fellow” suggest his perceived social status and appearance.
  • Poor trader” reflects his financial situation.
  • Thief” is an accusation based on suspicion.
  • Captain von Stahle” is a title he gave himself, indicating his desire to elevate his status, albeit falsely, in the eyes of others.

2. You came across the words, plod, trudge, and stagger in the story. These words indicate movement accompanied by weariness. Find five other such words with a similar meaning.

Words indicating movement accompanied by weariness:

  1. Shuffle
  2. Limp
  3. Drag
  4. Lurch
  5. Totter
  6. Stumbled

Extra Questions “The Rattrap” by Selma Lagerlöf:

Short-Answer Type Questions:

Q1: What is Selma Lagerlof’s “The Rattrap” central theme?

A1: The central theme of “The Rattrap” revolves around the concept of redemption and the inherent goodness in human beings. Selma Lagerlof illustrates how kindness, marginalisation, and love can transform even marginalised individuals. 

Through the character of the tramp, who sees the world as a giant rattrap, Lagerlof explores the idea that people can break free from their past mistakes and find redemption through genuine human connections and acts of compassion.

Q2: How does the tramp’s perception of the world as a rattrap influence the story’s narrative?

A2: The tramp’s perception of the world as a rattrap is a metaphor for his experiences and worldview. He sees life as a series of traps and temptations, where individuals are lured by false promises only to be trapped by their desires or circumstances. 

This perception influences his interactions with others and shapes his belief that everyone is susceptible to falling into life’s traps. However, his encounter with kindness and generosity challenges his cynical worldview, ultimately leading to his transformation and redemption.

Q3: How does Edla Willmansson’s kindness impact the tramp’s character development?

A3: Edla Willmansson’s kindness profoundly affects the tramp’s character development by challenging his cynical worldview and fostering a sense of empathy and connection within him. Her compassionate gesture of inviting him into her home on Christmas Eve and treating him with dignity and respect despite his appearance and past mistakes gradually erodes his defences. 

It opens his heart to the possibility of redemption. Through Edla’s kindness, the tramp experiences genuine human connection and recognises his capacity for goodness and generosity.

Q4: What role does the rattrap symbolise in the story?

A4: The rattrap symbolises the traps and temptations that ensnare individuals in the web of worldly desires and circumstances. It represents the allure of material wealth, the pursuit of immediate gratification, and the consequences of succumbing to greed and dishonesty. 

Just as the tramp sees the world as a giant rattrap, the actual rattrap he receives as a gift reminds him of his past mistakes and the opportunity for redemption. It symbolises the transformative power of empathy, forgiveness, and genuine human connection in breaking free from life’s traps.

Q5: How does the ironmaster’s initial reaction to the tramp contradict Edla Willmansson’s response?

A5: The ironmaster initially regards the tramp with suspicion and disdain, viewing him as an unwelcome intruder and potentially threatening his household. His reaction reflects societal attitudes towards individuals perceived as outsiders or vagabonds. 

In contrast, Edla Willmansson demonstrates empathy and compassion towards the tramp, seeing beyond his ragged appearance and troubled past. She extends kindness and hospitality, challenging societal norms and highlighting the transformative power of empathy and human connection.

Q6: Discuss the significance of the tramp’s Christmas gift to Edla Willmansson.

A6: The tramp’s Christmas gift to Edla Willmansson symbolises his gratitude and acknowledgement of her kindness and compassion towards him. By presenting her with the rattrap containing money and a heartfelt letter, the tramp expresses his appreciation and desire for redemption. 

The gift also serves as a gesture of reciprocity, as he returns the stolen money and offers insight into his journey towards self-discovery and transformation. Ultimately, the gift reinforces the theme of redemption and emphasises the profound impact of empathy and forgiveness in fostering human connection and understanding.

Q7: How does the tramp’s journey reflect the broader themes of societal marginalisation and redemption?

A7: The tramp’s journey reflects the broader themes of societal marginalisation and redemption by depicting individuals’ struggles and challenges on society’s fringes. Through his experiences, the story explores poverty, loneliness, and the search for belonging. 

The tramp’s transformation from a cynical wanderer to a recipient of kindness and compassion illustrates the potential for redemption and personal growth, even in adversity. His journey serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, forgiveness, and second chances in overcoming societal barriers and finding redemption.

Q8: How does the story’s setting contribute to its themes and narrative?

A8: The story’s setting, amidst the mines of Sweden and the rural countryside, contributes to its themes and narrative by highlighting the stark contrasts between wealth and poverty, isolation and connection. The desolate landscape reflects the tramp’s sense of alienation and despair, while the warmth and hospitality of Edla Willmansson’s home offer a beacon of hope and redemption. 

The rural setting also highlights the timeless nature of the story’s themes, emphasising the universal human experiences of longing, forgiveness, and the search for meaning amidst life’s challenges.

Q9: How does the tramp’s past and experiences as a rattrap peddler shape his perception of the world?

A9: The tramp’s past and experiences as a rattrap peddler shape his perception of the world by fostering a deep cynicism and distrust towards society. Having lived a life marked by poverty, desperation, and marginalisation, he views the world through a lens of suspicion, seeing traps and pitfalls at every turn. His livelihood as a rattrap peddler reflects his belief that life is akin to a giant rattrap, where false promises and material temptations ensnare individuals. His experiences reinforce his sense of alienation and support the notion that human connections are fleeting and conditional.

Q10: How does the tramp’s interaction with the ironmaster and Edla Willmansson challenge societal stereotypes and expectations?

A10: The tramp’s interaction with the ironmaster and Edla Willmansson challenges societal stereotypes and expectations by defying conventional notions of class and social status. Despite his ragged appearance and troubled past, the tramp receives unexpected kindness and hospitality from Edla Willmansson, an upper-class member. 

This interaction disrupts traditional power dynamics and highlights the transformative power of empathy and compassion. Similarly, the ironmaster’s initial suspicion gives way to grudging acceptance, highlighting the complexity of human relationships and the potential for redemption and understanding across social divides.

Q11: Discuss the symbolism of Christmas Eve in the story and its significance to the tramp’s journey.

A11: Christmas Eve is a symbolic backdrop for the tramp’s journey towards redemption and self-discovery. Christmas Eve represents a time of hope and reconciliation traditionally associated with renewal, forgiveness, and goodwill. For the tramp, it marks a pivotal moment of acceptance and forgiveness as he is welcomed into Edla. 

Willmansson’s home and offered a chance for redemption. The warmth and generosity of the holiday season contrast sharply with the tramp’s experiences of loneliness and despair, underscoring the transformative power of human kindness and the possibility of renewal even in the darkest circumstances.

Q12: How does the tramp’s decision to return the stolen money reflect his internal transformation?

A12: The tramp’s decision to return the stolen cash reflects his inner transformation and newfound sense of integrity and morality. Despite his initial cynicism and self-interest, the tramp ultimately chooses to rectify his past wrongdoings and make amends for his actions. 

His gesture of returning the money symbolises a break from his past life of deceit and desperation and signals his commitment to redemption and self-discovery. By relinquishing the stolen goods and offering a sincere apology, the tramp demonstrates his capacity for growth and empathy, paving the way for reconciliation and forgiveness.

Long-Answer Type Questions:

Q13: How does the tramp initially perceive the world as a “big rattrap” and evolve throughout the story?

A13: At the outset, the tramp views the world as a vast trap, where individuals are enticed by false promises and material temptations only to be ensnared and abandoned. This perception reflects his experiences of poverty, rejection, and disillusionment, reinforcing his cynicism and distrust towards society. 

However, as the story unfolds, the tramp’s encounter with kindness and compassion challenges his bleak worldview. Through Edla Willmansson’s hospitality and the ironmaster’s unexpected generosity, he questions his assumptions about human nature and the possibility of genuine connection amidst life’s struggles. The tramp’s journey towards redemption is marked by moments of self-reflection and growth as he confronts his vulnerabilities and shortcomings. 

Ultimately, his transformation from a cynical wanderer to a recipient of grace emphasises the transformative power of empathy and forgiveness in transcending societal barriers and fostering genuine human solidarity. In the end, the tramp emerges with a renewed sense of hope and possibility, recognising the inherent goodness within himself and others.

Q14: How does Edla Willmansson defy societal expectations through her interactions with the tramp?

A14: Edla Willmansson defies societal expectations through her compassionate and empathetic treatment of the tramp, challenging prevailing class and social status stereotypes. Despite the tramp’s ragged appearance and troubled past, Edla extends genuine kindness and hospitality, seeing beyond his external circumstances to recognise his inherent worth and dignity as a human being. 

Her willingness to engage with the tramp on a personal level defies the rigid social hierarchies that often govern interactions between individuals of different backgrounds. Instead of succumbing to fear or prejudice, Edla approaches the tramp with openness and understanding, recognising his humanity and offering him a chance for redemption and reconciliation.

By extending grace and forgiveness, Edla exemplifies the transformative power of empathy in bridging divides and fostering genuine human connection. Her actions serve as a powerful reminder of the universal capacity for compassion and solidarity, transcending societal barriers to affirm the inherent value of every individual, regardless of their circumstances.

Q15: In what ways does the tramp’s journey symbolise a search for redemption and belonging?

A15: The tramp’s journey represents a profound search for redemption and belonging amidst life’s uncertainties and challenges. His experiences as a rattrap peddler reflect a sense of alienation and despair as he navigates a world marked by poverty, rejection, and disillusionment. However, through his encounter with Edla Willmansson and the ironmaster, the tramp finds unexpected kindness and compassion, sparking a transformative journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation. 

As he grapples with his vulnerabilities and past mistakes, the tramp confronts the complexities of human relationships and the possibility of forgiveness and renewal. His decision to return the stolen money symbolises a break from his life of deceit and desperation, signalling a commitment to integrity and moral redemption. 

Through moments of grace and acceptance, the tramp begins to find a sense of belonging and acceptance, recognising the inherent worth and dignity within himself and others. His journey highlights the universal longing for connection and understanding, transcending individual differences to affirm the shared humanity that binds us.

MCQ “The Rattrap”:

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