The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
General Zaroff Literary Analysis Richard Cornell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game” features General Zaroff, the antagonist. He is a man whom is cunning, intelligent, and has an attractive personality in which lures each unknowing ship wrecker into the ultimate game of survival. General Zaroff creates this game out of his own boredom; he has already hunted any animal that would give him the same extravagant thrill he gets every time he hunts. To this he has lots of character traits, motivations, and reasons why he’s realistic. General Zaroff has many character traits, for he is isolated, he has a big ego, and is also a psychopath.
He created his own isolation after he left Russia during a debacle; he then bought and moved to the island with only Ivan. Ivan cannot hear and is not very smart and he does not speak; he reads lips so Zaroff does not get the chance to talk often unless someone else gets shipwrecked on the island. His ego stems from his life of luxury, wealth, and militarism which inflate his ego and sense of entitlement and impose few limits on his desires. For example, a quote from Zaroff during his reaction to Rainsfords reaction of finding out that Zaroff hunts humans. “Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and if needs to be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here for the strong pleasure.
I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt why should I not?” This quote tells the reader that he looks down on anyone that is not like himself. General Zaroff is also a psychopath, a psychopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse. He has desires to inflict suffering and death for his own amusement. He has literally lost the ability to see the difference from man and beast, distributing them into the same category.
For Rainsford sees this himself, “For I cannot believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke.” Second, General Zaroff has motivations for the things he is doing. He being a psychopath and enjoying it is one thing, but there is also just the wants of things he hopes for. His motivation for hunting humans is quite simple, after all the animals he has hunted he finally got bored and wanted to move onto something bigger, better.
Go big or go home right? Something that could think as well as he could and had the same abilities, so it really was fair game. Frankly though, General Zaroff loses interest in hunting animals because they are no longer an adequate challenge. The biggest dilemma for General Zaroff is that he does not think it is wrong to hunt humans. He has had experience as a soldier under a brutal regime. Zaroff began hunting at an early age when he shot his father’s prized turkeys and continually sought out bigger game in his family’s tract of wilderness in the Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea.
Later on, commanding a division of Cossack cavalrymen in Russia in which familiarized Zaroff with the horrors of warfare. His bloodlust and passion for hunting eventually prompted him to hunt men, the most cunning and challenging prey he could find. One could say it is only natural for him to take this leap. Zaroff believes the world has only one rule “survival if the fittest.” Those who have the power will make it. Above all, General Zaroff is unrealistic.
Especially at the beginning of the story; at the start of the book General Zaroff welcomes in Rainsford with open arms. His hospitality is shocking, for a wealthy man with very high standards to just let this stranger that he does not know into his home. He gives this stranger overwhelming and exquisite shelter, and that goes along with everything else on the island. Soon enough it is dinner time for them and out comes a ravishing dinner and cocktails. It is practically a fairytale, until the part of the dinner where General Zaroff announces that he murders people for his enjoyment. People do not buy islands and live isolated and alone, simply waiting for some unfortunate ship wrecker to come knocking on his door step.
Then giving them the choice of letting them be hunted to the death, or just letting Ivan give that unlucky person to the great white tsar, which is also known as a large fish or shark. To sum it up, this very wealthy man lives on a deserted island with one other person that cannot speak to him and for fun he likes to kill people. His madness is the biggest part of him and it is just his true personality. The character of General Zaroff is idealistic. Sure, this could happen but the chances are way too small to say. In the end, General Zaroff is a very complex character.
His traits are all over the place, his motivations could only be the words of an insane person, and he is completely unrealistic. His character represents how things aren’t always what they seem. Rainsfords first impression of him was to be impressed by his culture and by the way his table was laden with gourmet food. It also shows how even the calmest, most sane people can be able to do twisted things. It’s the topic of his thoughts that signifies his underlying sick mentality.