The story is about an old disheartened peddler who is taken in and shown generosity by a young woman. Her generosity and kindness change his bitter attitude towards life. The peddler is a man who has fallen upon misfortune and now resorts to selling rattraps, begging, and thievery. He is very pessimistic about the world around him and sees the world as merely a “rat trap”. He believes that society tempts us with riches and fine things, and when we accept, we are caught in the trap and are left with nothing.
The story conveys a universal message that the essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through love, respect, kindness and understanding. It highlights the human predicament. Material benefits are the traps that most human beings are prone to fall into. Human beings do have a tendency to redeem themselves from dishonest ways as does the peddler at the end of the story.
This story is set amidst the mines of Sweden, rich in iron ore which figure large in the history of that country. The story is told somewhat in the manner of a fairy tale.
1. A peddlar with rattraps.
2. An Oldman: A crofter
3. Master Smith in the Ramsjo Iron Mill in Sweden
4. Helpers in the Mill: blacksmiths
5. Iron mill owner
6. Edla Willmansson – daughter of the Iron Mill owner.