Character Sketch of Ironmaster in The Rattrap

In Selma Lagerlöf’s short story “The Rattrap,” the character of the Ironmaster serves as a central figure around whom the narrative revolves. Initially portrayed as a stern and affluent individual, the Ironmaster undergoes a transformative journey that challenges societal expectations and delves into the profound themes of redemption, compassion, and the interconnectedness of humanity.

Introduction to the Ironmaster:

The Ironmaster is introduced as a man of wealth and authority, a figure who adheres to societal norms and expectations associated with his position. His life appears to be defined by material success, but beneath this exterior lies a sense of isolation and loneliness that sets the stage for a profound change.

Overview – Bullet Points:

  1. Affluence and Authority: The Ironmaster embodies wealth and authority in society.
  2. Isolation and Loneliness: Despite material success, he experiences isolation and loneliness.

Transformation through Compassion:

The narrative takes a decisive turn when the Ironmaster encounters a rattrap seller. This seemingly chance encounter becomes the catalyst for the Ironmaster’s transformation, unraveling the complexities of his character.

  1. Unexpected Encounter: The Ironmaster’s encounter with the rattrap seller is unexpected, challenging his preconceived notions.
  2. Acts of Kindness: The Ironmaster’s small acts of kindness, offering food and shelter to the rattrap seller, reveal a shift in his perspective.
  3. Compassion Over Judgment: In choosing compassion over judgment, the Ironmaster transcends societal expectations and demonstrates the potential for change.

Redemption and Empathy:

As the story unfolds, the Ironmaster’s actions reflect themes of redemption and empathy. His journey becomes a testament to the idea that every individual, regardless of societal roles, possesses the capacity for compassion and personal growth.

  1. Redemption through Compassionate Choices: The Ironmaster’s choices represent a form of redemption, suggesting that one’s past does not define the possibilities for change.
  2. Empathy for the Rattrap Seller: The Ironmaster’s empathy for the rattrap seller signifies a deeper understanding of shared human experiences.

Symbolism of the Rattrap:

The rattrap, initially presented as a simple device to catch rodents, takes on symbolic significance in the narrative. It becomes a metaphor for the traps and entanglements that individuals face in life.

  1. Life as a Rattrap: The Ironmaster’s realization that life itself is a rattrap reflects a broader metaphor for the challenges and entanglements inherent in the human experience.
  2. Common Humanity: The rattrap becomes a symbol of common humanity, transcending social and economic divides.


In conclusion, the character of the Ironmaster in “The Rattrap” undergoes a profound transformation that goes beyond the confines of societal expectations. Lagerlöf crafts a narrative that challenges the notion of rigid social roles and explores the universal themes of compassion and redemption.

The Ironmaster’s journey from affluence and isolation to compassion and connection illustrates the malleability of the human spirit. His unexpected encounter with the rattrap seller becomes a turning point, prompting him to reassess his values and choose a path of empathy.

The rattrap itself serves as a powerful symbol, encapsulating the idea that life, like a rattrap, presents challenges and snares. The Ironmaster’s realization of this metaphor underscores the shared experiences and vulnerabilities that connect individuals, regardless of their external circumstances.

In essence, “The Rattrap” is not just a story of an Ironmaster but a universal narrative that invites readers to reflect on their own capacity for change and compassion. Lagerlöf’s storytelling transcends time and societal contexts, offering a timeless exploration of the human condition and the transformative power of unexpected connections. The Ironmaster’s journey resonates as a reminder that, despite the traps and entanglements of life, the possibility for redemption and compassion is ever-present.

Scroll to Top