A Dilemma by S. Weir Mitchell

A Dilemma by Silas Weir Mitchell is an incredibly interesting and mysteriously written short story. It is a story about a man whose uncle had died and he was left with an iron box containing a wealth of riches. However though, if the box is to be opened with the key, it will activate a plethora of dynamite inside and will explode into bits. The narrator is informed of all of this by a letter which was left by his uncle on his bedside, shortly before his passing. 

The conflict of the story is entirely internal and results in a huge dilemma of anxiety and self-doubt as the protagonist decides and contemplates whether to attempt to open the box or not. In addition, he fears that someone else may try to open the box with the key and be blown to shreds. He confronts a doctor about his dilemma and eventually moves away to a new place, changes his name, and hides the box. 

It's incredibly fascinating to see how a small box and curiosity can drive a human being to so much trouble of anxiety and reluctance. I had to read the story a few times in order to fully understand what the character was feeling in his entirety. 

We root for the character and want him to be safe. We are challenged with this thought as he tries to open the box, "Then [he] sat down, as yet hopeful, and began to exert [his] ingenuity upon ways of opening the box without being killed. There must be a way." (3). As he gains anxiety, the doctor also "warned [him] that [he] was in danger of losing [his] mind with too much thought about [his] rubies (which were inside the box)" (4). 

The protagonist is a pure representation human curiosity and how it can drive us to anxiety and mental instability.