The Most Dangerous Game Literary Analysis
The Most Dangerous Game, a short story by Richard Connell, follows the suspenseful events as the hunter becomes the hunted. Set in the 1920’s The Most Dangerous Game concerns the expert hunter and main character, Rainsford, whenever he falls overboard at sea and swims to the nearest body of land, known as “Ship Trap Island”. It is on this mysterious island that Rainsford stumbles upon the magnificent home of General Zaroff, a fellow hunting enthusiast, although of a different sort.
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell features conflict, style, nd imagery.
Upon meeting General Zaroff, a tall older man with white hair and a dark mustache, Rainsford also meets his large assistant, a deaf and dumb Cossack, named Ivan. General Zaroffs appearance and language parallel the fineries of the lavish home, which Ivan’s appearance and lack of language parallel the enormous size and chaos of the Jungle surrounding the home. Rainsford is given a well-tailored suit to wear and invited to an exquisite dinner in Zaroffs lavish dining hall, the walls adorned with animal heads. During dinner General Zaroff and Rainsford rush into a detailed conversation bout their mutual fondness for hunting.
Rainsford points out that he believes the Cape Buffalo, an animal upon Zaroffs wall, is the most dangerous of animals to hunt.
Zaroff presents foreshadowing, by disagreeing with Rainsford and saying the Cape Buffalo is not the most dangerous animal. Zaroff then invites Rainsford to hunt on the island with him, and then begins to tell the story of his past and how he came to the island. It is during this conversation that the climax of the story is reached as Zaroff admits to having to “invent” a new animal to hunt. Although it takes some time
Rainsford slowly realizes that Zaroff is referring to hunting humans. This is an ironic situation as Rainsford is sitting before the most gracious of hosts, who has Just admitted to a “sport” which Rainsford equates as cold-blooded murder. Zaroff continues to explain the rules of the game; the men are given a head start under the cover of night, and if Zaroff has not caught them within three days’ time than they have won.
If the men refuse to be a part of the game then they must suffer at the hands of Ivan. Zaroff asks Rainsford to hunt men with him, and Rainsford refuses damantly.
As Rainsford tries to sleep that night he stares out the window and remarks that he feels “enveloped” by the darkness of the night, an example of Connell’s imagery to the color black. The next day at lunchtime Rainsford announces to Zaroff that he would like to leave the island. Zaroff leaves him two choices, to face Ivan or partake as the hunted.
Rainsford chooses to play Zaroffs twisted game, and is given a two hour head start, as well as hunting clothes, food, and a knife. Rainsford dashes into the island Jungle madly, running without cause.
Eventually Rainsford chooses to get a handle on his emotions, and begins to use his own hunting skills to evade Zaroff. Over the next forty-eight hours Rainsford rigs two separate traps in attempts to outsmart Zaroff, although both times he comes close it is not enough to conquer the General. The tollowing day Rainstord, who is sleeping atop a tree, is woken by the tast approaching Zaroff, Ivan, and a pack of hunting dogs.
Rainsford is able to think quickly, and uses a trick he learned in Uganda to attach a knife to the end of a young apling and aim it towards his pursuers, only managing to take down Ivan.
Rainsford rushes to the nearest cliffs edge, and leaps into the dark ocean water below. Zaroff comes shortly after, and unable to find Rainsford he returns home and mourns the loss of his faithful servant, Ivan. As he walks into his bedroom and turns on the light Zaroff finds Rainsford behind the curtains, and congratulates him on his victory. The two men agree that the game is still ongoing, and the winner will sleep in the bed, as the loser will be fed to the dogs. Connell’s short story is concluded with Rainsford remarking on how comfortable the bed was that evening.
Connell has written an intriguing story which features several different types of conflicts. There is the physical man versus man conflict, which refers to Zaroff and Ivan versus Rainsford. A man versus nature conflict is also present as Rainsford faces the Jungle in his attempt to escape from Zaroff. A man versus self conflict is also featured in this short story, as Rainsford wrestles with himself internally over Zaroffs madness as well as fighting his own bubbling emotions in a time of panic. Connell’s major style throughout the story is no doubt irony.
There is irony busting out at the seams of this short story, for the fact that Rainsford is acclaimed hunter who states that animals which are hunted have no feelings, and then Rainsford himself ends up being hunted and is able to experience firsthand the fear and desolation. Richard Connell uses conflict, style, and colorful imagery to convey this suspenseful story to his readers. It is no doubt that The Most Dangerous Game will continue to impact audiences with its’ thought provoking plot line for years to come.