An analysis of the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell.
The Most Dangerous Game This paper will analyze the short story called “The Most Dangerous Game” by discussing the four main elements of a short story which are, setting, character, conflict, and theme. The story involves two main characters, Rainsford and General Zaroff. Rainsford is a celebrated hunter, who enjoys hunting animals. He does not believe that hunting animals is wrong until he meets a certain General Zaroff. General Zaroff, is also a man that loves to hunt, but over the years has grown dull with it. His constant pursuit for bigger and smarter game has come to an end. General Zaroff is devastated because of this, and especially after growing up his whole life with “rifle in hand” and the target in his sights. He decides to take his hunting to a higher level, the hunt for human life, Rainsfords life! This story takes place in the Caribbean, on a secluded island. The author chose an ideal place for his setting. The story consists of a war between the two main characters, and what better place then an island which has such excellent geographical features to support this struggle. Some examples are the dense trees, trails, and some quicksand. This setting also makes the two characters display all the skills and tricks they have learned over the years, and then wage war against each other. The setting plays a sufficient role in the story’s overall development. Without this setting the story would not reveal the game of “cat and mouse” which is going on. The setting holds the bulk of the action in it, the story has characters hiding in trees, falling in quicksand, and by being led into traps. Not using this setting in the story would make the story miss out on its excitement and suspense. The next few paragraphs will introduce the characters and will provide a psychological profile of them. Some observations will also be made on the relative importance of the element of character in the story’s development. Beginning with the characters which play a lesser role in the story. Whitney is a man who does not believe in hunting and killing animals, he believe’s that animals understand that there being hunted down and killed. Whitney’s main importance in the story is that the author uses him as a “tool”, to help us understand the personality and beliefs Rainsford has. Rainsford is the central character in the story. Rainsford on the other hand, does not have the same beliefs that Whitney has. He loves hunting so much that he does not stop to think whether or not the animals have any feelings or emotions. Bluntly he does not care if the animals feel anything. Rainsford philosophy is that world is made up of two classes -“the hunters and the huntees.” Rainsford has never felt what it is like to be hunted, because he has always been the predator. That is sure to change as the story unfolds and takes a classic twist, where in this case the hunter Rainsford becomes the hunted. Rainsford also proves to be a developing character in the story. Rainsford does this by stating in the latter part of the story that he now understands how the animals feel when they are being hunted. The character General Zaroff is a very complex character, because he has two sides to himself. One side portrays a well educated, polite, hospitable man. On the other side General Zaroff portrays a very cunning cold blooded killer. Killer in the sense that he hunts humans for pleasure, and does not feel any remorse for them. Which is the result, as mentioned before, of his boredom towards hunting just animals. General Zaroff has the same views as Whitney, in the sense that humans and animals are equal. The difference being, General Zaroff believe’s killing an animal is the same as killing a man. The character Ivan, known as General Zaroffs servant, does not play a big part in the story. However, we know Ivan is General Zaroffs right-hand man. Ivan is considered a savage in the story, which would make it easy for someone like General Zaroff to control. Although, Ivan should be considered a main asset to General Zaroff, for he is the General’s alternative for captive’s who choose not to play the General’s lethal game. The major conflicts in the story are: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Environment, and Man vs. Himself. The conflict Man vs. Environment is portrayed when Rainsford is set out into the jungle to fend for himself while being hunted. His only defense is a hunting knife that General Zaroff supplied him with. With minimal fire power, Rainsford uses his environment to help him overcome the obstacle which lays ahead, (General Zaroff). By setting traps in the jungle he is able to show General Zaroff that he is not going to lay over and die. In the second part of conflict there is mant of conflict is man vs. man. It is the most important because Rainsford and General Zaroff battle one another through out the story. It all begins when Rainsford falls off his boat and swam to the nearest island, which was the island where General Zaroff was located. This is were the conflict begins. All of a sudden Rainsford starts to understand what Whitney was trying to get across to him at the beginning, which was to put yourself in the animals shoes before just speculating and guessing how they feel. The friendship which was started when the two men met, slowly evaporates. Rainsford starts to see that General Zaroff is psychotic, and that he plans to send him out as soon as possible. Obviously Rainsford does not want anything to do with Zaroff’s plan. This is when they “bash heads” once again. General Zaroff leaves him no choice but to hit the jungle and survive the three days, without getting killed. His other alternative is too fight big bad Ivan. Don’t think so!! The battle of who is the best hunter is on. General Zaroff believes he is the best hunter, and wants to prove to himself that he can even hunt down and kill the well known Rainsford. He starts getting frustrated when Rainsford slowly kills off his assistant Ivan, one of his top dogs, and injures Zaroff. Right then you get the feeling that General Zaroff is starting to appear a little frightened, and that he is starting to run out of resources to track down Rainsford. After he loses the dog he becomes a coward and yells out into the jungle that he will be back with the rest of his hounds. Zaroff proves that he does not have the guts to take on Rainsford one on one. In the end Rainsford out smarts the General and ends up killing him. After Rainsford had thought that killing humans was crazy, he just does it. It is justified in this case because of the situation that the General put him in. The element of conflict is huge in this story. Without the conflict, Rainford just lands on the Island and then just turns around and goes home. But the conflict restrains Rainsford to stay on the island and suffer like all the animals he has hunted in his lifetime. The theme of the story is essential, in the sense that it portrays many different aspects of human moral. The author shows us this by giving Whitney, Rainsford, and Zaroff totally different views on what is morally correct and incorrect. For example, the innocence of Whitney compared to the extreme madness of General Zaroff. And Rainsford who believes a little bit of both. The writer’s other purpose in the story is to show us that if you do not walk a mile in another man’s shoe’s, you cannot comprehend how they feel, you can only speculate. In conclusion I really enjoyed the story, and how Richard Connell guided us through the different levels of human moral of each character. I also liked how he displayed that if you put yourself in someone else’s shoe’s, it can change your whole outlook on a certain issue. THE N D