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Róisín O.

County Cork, Ireland



The Rat Trap

Step 1 - Selecting my text:

From the Spoon River Anthology, I chose the story of Robert Fulton Tanner for its grim and underlyingly droll humour. The focus of my central storyline is the below excerpt, with my screenplay outlining how a "death by rat" event unfolded:

As I was bitten by a rat

While demonstrating my patent trap,

In my hardware store that day.

Although Tanner's story is full of symbols connected with Life and Death (eg: a rat trap), I will place less focus on trap metaphors and instead my screenplay will portray the rat itself as an ancillary character representing "Life". Specifically, it will illustrate how Life has supreme control over a human being's fate and mortality (as inferred by the original text). Ultimately, revenge against Life/the rat is futile.

Step 2 - Drafting my screenplay

Screenplay available upon request.

Step 3 - Logline:

Robert Fulton Tanner, a scheming storeowner, attempts to trick his customers with a dark rat trap ruse, but his deception ultimately leads to his own demise.

Supplementary Note:

The Rat Trap is not a musical!

Original text:

If a man could bite the giant hand

That catches and destroys him,

As I was bitten by a rat

While demonstrating my patent trap,

In my hardware store that day.

But a man can never avenge himself

On the monstrous ogre Life.

You enter the room that's being born;

And then you must live work out your soul,

Of the cross-current in life

Which Bring honor to the dead, who lived in shame.

Robert Fulton Tanner

Cover photo:

I chose a cropped version of Jack Black, Her Majesty's Ratcatcher, 1851 (via The Perseus Digital Library)


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