The Rattrap

by

Selma Lagerlöf

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The daughter of the ironmaster, Edla is described as “not at all pretty, but […] modest and quite shy.” She is exceptionally kind, convincing the peddler to come to her house and then convincing her father to let the peddler stay for Christmas Eve, even when he is revealed to not actually be Captain von Stahle. Edla is also wise and perceptive, as she can immediately tell that the peddler is afraid, and has probably committed some crime that he is running from. She is the most positive figure in the story, and her compassion and generosity are the reason for the peddler’s transformation.

Edla Wilmansson Quotes in The Rattrap

The The Rattrap quotes below are all either spoken by Edla Wilmansson or refer to Edla Wilmansson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Human Kindness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the National Council of Education Research and Training edition of The Rattrap published in 2014.
The Rattrap Quotes

She looked at him compassionately, with her heavy eyes, and then she noticed that the man was afraid. “Either he has stolen something or else he has escaped from jail”, she thought, and added quickly, “You may be sure, Captain, that you will be allowed to leave us just as freely as you came. Only please stay with us over Christmas Eve.”

She said this in such a friendly manner that the rattrap peddler must have felt confidence in her.

“It would never have occurred to me that you would bother with me yourself, miss,” he said. “I will come at once.”

Related Characters: The Peddler / The Stranger (speaker), Edla Wilmansson (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rattraps
Explanation and Analysis:

“I am thinking of this stranger here,” said the young girl. “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. Wherever he turns he is chased away. Always he is afraid of being arrested and cross-examined. I should like to have him enjoy a day of peace with us here—just one in the whole year.”

The ironmaster mumbled something in his beard. He could not bring himself to oppose her.

“It was all a mistake, of course,” she continued. “But anyway I don’t think we ought to chase away a human being whom we have asked to come here, and to whom we have promised Christmas cheer.”

Explanation and Analysis:

As soon as they got up from the table he went around to each one present and said thank you and good night, but when he came to the young girl she gave him to understand that it was her father’s intention that the suit which he wore was to be a Christmas present—he did not have to return it; and 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.

The man with the rattraps did not answer anything to this. He only stared at the young girl in boundless amazement.

Related Symbols: Rattraps
Explanation and Analysis:

“Honoured and noble Miss,

“Since you have been so nice to me all day long, as if I was a captain, I want to be nice to you, in return, as if I was a real captain—for I do not want you to be embarrassed at this Christmas season by a thief; but you can give back the money to the old man on the roadside, who has the money pouch hanging on the window frame as a bait for poor wanderers.

“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.

“Written with friendship

And high regard,

“Captain von Stahle.”

Related Symbols: Rattraps
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Rattrap LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Rattrap PDF

Edla Wilmansson Character Timeline in The Rattrap

The timeline below shows where the character Edla Wilmansson appears in The Rattrap. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Rattrap
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...pretty, but […] modest and quite shy,” wakes the sleeping stranger and introduces herself as Edla Willmansson. (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Loneliness and Companionship Theme Icon
Edla speaks kindly to the peddler, saying she is sorry that he has fallen on such... (full context)
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Edla offers the peddler a fur coat, which he puts on over his rags, and he... (full context)
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Eve, the ironmaster comes into the dining room and discusses the peddler with his daughter. Edla says that the peddler doesn’t seem like an educated man, but the ironmaster assures her... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Loneliness and Companionship Theme Icon
...the ironmaster and defuses his anger, but he still tells the peddler to leave immediately. Edla stops him, however, and says that she wants the stranger to stay with them. The... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Loneliness and Companionship Theme Icon
The ironmaster grumbles to himself, and Edla continues, saying she doesn’t think it’s right to “chase away a human […] to whom... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Loneliness and Companionship Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...only waking up for meals, and once to see the lighted Christmas tree. At dinner, Edla tells the peddler that it is her father’s intention that he keep the suit he... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
The next morning, Edla and the ironmaster wake up early and go to the Christmas service at church, leaving... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
When Edla and the ironmaster return to their house, they learn that the peddler has left, but... (full context)
Human Kindness Theme Icon
Trust vs. Cynicism Theme Icon
Loneliness and Companionship Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
The letter is addressed to Edla, written in the peddler’s “large, jagged” handwriting. In it, he thanks her for being so... (full context)