How does "The Rattrap" exemplify the truth that essential goodness of human beings can be awakened through love and understanding?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Honored 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 road-side, who has the money pouch hanging on the window frame as a bait for poor wanderers.

The rat trap is a Christmas present from a rat who would have been caught in this world’s rat trap if he had not been raised to captain, because in that way he got power to clear himself.

Written with friendship and high regard,

In The Rattrap, the homeless rat trap seller shows himself to be mean spirited and mercenary when he takes the crofter's (tenant farmer's) hospitality and friendship then later goes back to take his money too:

He only went up to the window, smashed a pane, stuck in his hand, and got hold of the ... the thirty kronor. ... and thrust it into his own pocket.

The rat trap seller's normal way of life makes him insensible to the immorality of his thefts until the veil is lifted one night when he reluctantly accepts, at the urging of the ironmaster's daughter, freely given hospitality from the ironmaster who, ironically, mistakes the rat trap seller for an old friend:

[The ironmaster] had sent his daughter, apparently hoping that she would have better powers of persuasion than he himself.

It is here that the daughter of the ironmaster shows the rat trap seller so much genuine love, respect, courtesy and understanding that he is prompted to confess all to her in a letter and return the crofter's money through her. Her kindness brought out the inner goodness dwelling silently within the rat trapper when she took up his side and insisted he stay with them for Christmas, even after it had been discivered that he was not the old friend:

That morning she had felt so happy when she thought how homelike and Christmassy she was going to make things for the poor hungry wretch.

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