In “The Most Dangerous Game” the author creates two strikingly similar characters that blur the line of ethics. Rainsford, the protagonist, meets his adversary and leader of an exotic tribe, Zaroff, after falling off of a yacht and swimming to the nearest island. The short story then explores the events that transpires between the strangers – focusing on Zaroff's bloodthirsty hunt against Rainsford. Yet even with the two men on opposite sides of a loaded gun, they both share many common interests and views pertaining to their similar backgrounds, hunting methods, and desired end result.
With Rainsford meeting Zaroff on an exotic location, it is apparent that their experiences have taken them all over the globe and put them into a variety of diverse, yet similar, situations. Upon their first encounter, Rainsford's book on hunting snow leopards is mentioned and the reader can imply that he has hunted in arctic areas that a normal hunter would not dare to go. However, the ...view middle of the document...
From Rainsford's pit filled with spiky sticks to his catapulted knife, he uses an array of lethal techniques to kill his opposition, but Zaroff, too, knows those tactics. Instead of rushing at Rainsford blindly, Zaroff sends dogs and servants to check for traps. After avoiding each death trap. Zaroff calls Rainsford out on the failed attempts. It can be inferred that both men were familiar with the specifications of a multitude of contraptions and used them quite a bit over their hunting careers. Neither man can gain an advantage on the other because their methods on tracking and trapping prey are so similar. Any time one tried to out-smart or out-cheat the other, they intended victim always found to a way to predict his opponent's move and escape – almost like they shared a brain.
What should have been a game of cat-and-mouse, like Zaroff was accustomed to, Rainsford put up a fight. The “prey” went on the offensive, and so the simple hunt became a death-match between rivals.
Despite their disagreement in morals, both men knew the only justifiable resolution would be murder. Zaroff, like a drug addict, is searching for a thrill that parallels the high he got from his first kill. He believes that because he has shown dominance over everything worthy to hunt that real people are his only challenge left, and therefore he attacks Rainsford. On the contrary, Rainsford initially believes that no sane person should kill another human being, but after getting attacked by Zaroff his survival instincts kick in. To justify his actions, Rainsford convinces himself that killing Zaroff would be self defense – yet he goes out of his way to end his attacker's life. Not only did the story end with both men as murderers, but one can guess that Rainsford, after tasting the excitement of killing another person, will usurp Zaroff's role as “General of the Island” and in turn become the monster he fled from. In the end, it can be hypothesized that the two characters' beliefs overlap.
With the conclusion finishing so abruptly, it works as an allusion to show just how similar Rainsford and Zaroff are. So even if the characters had different means to justify the end result, they both shared a similar history, practiced their equal hunting abilities, and learned to sympathize with one another.