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Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game

1978 words - 8 pages

“Hunting is not a sport, in a sport both sides should know they’re in the game”(Paul Rodriguez)."The Most Dangerous Game," an adventure tale that pits two notorious hunters against one another in a life and death competition, is the story for which Richard Connell is best remembered. First published in 1924, the story has been frequently drawn together as a classic example of a suspenseful narrative loaded with action. Connell's story raises questions about the nature of violence, cruelty and the ethics of hunting for sport. "The Most Dangerous Game" gained favorable recognition upon its initial publication in 1924, winning the Prestigious O. Henry Memorial Award for short fiction. Its popularity was further established when the first film version of the story was produced in 1932. The story's theme, the hunter becoming the hunted, has become a popular one in other books and films since Connell's version appeared.
The characters in this story, while interesting, are certainly not realistic. Yet, the author creates a likeable character in Sanger Rainsford and a despicable one in General Zaroff. Rainsford is the protagonist of this story. He is portrayed as a round character as he displays multiple traits. Interestingly, one of the ways he shows multiple traits is in his attitude toward whatever he is hunting. In the beginning of the story, Rainsford explains to a sailor, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" (Connell) At this point he has no sympathy for the animal. It is simply an object to be hunted. However, that attitude changes when he, himself, becomes General Zaroff's prey. Once that happens, Rainsford all of a sudden cannot believe Zaroff's attitude toward what is being hunted, in this case, a man. Rainsford exclaims, "Hunting?...what you speak of is murder" (Connell). Rainsford had never seen his hunting as murder up until the point that he is facing the same situation that his prey have faced themselves. By having Rainsford show these conflicting emotions, it demonstrates the irony of the situation. This change in Rainsford makes him a dynamic character. When he first came to the island, he thought that General Zaroff was a good man, someone who was treating him well. Connell even explains that Rainsford found Zaroff to be "...a most thoughtful and affable host, a true cosmopolite." However, once Rainsford has been hunted by Zaroff as a common animal would be, Rainsford hates the man and plans to kill him. At the very end of the story, just before Rainsford does just that, the narration reads, "Rainsford did not smile. 'I am still a beast a bay,' he said, in a low, hoarse voice. 'Get ready, General Zaroff'" (Connell). Rainsford has learned that it is all about survival of the fittest. He makes it his goal to live and not to lose at this most dangerous game, which is actually not a game at all. In fighting for his own survival, he also most certainly did not want General Zaroff to win because it not only is it wrong for a human to kill...

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