The most obvious theme of "The Most Dangerous Game" is that which arises from the relationship of the hunter and the hunted. At the very beginning of story, Rainsford and Zaroff are presented as equals. Both characters are well-accomplished big-game hunters. As the story unfolds, however, their roles change. Rainsford is thrust into the position of the hunted. However, he tries to undermine the game by setting traps for the hunter. Rainsford's form of hunting is passive whereas Zaroff's is active.
The fragility of this relationship between the hunted and the hunter is not only displayed in the resolution of the story but also through various passages. For example, Zaroff describes several interactions with animals that resulted in injury on his part.
The central moral theme of the story involves the distinction between murder and hunting. Rainsford sees a clear difference between the two, hence his disgust at Zaroff's hunting of men. Zaroff, on the other hand, sees his pastime as similar to a war.
This particular theme remains a source of tension throughout the story. As Rainsford is hunted, he does his best to try to destroy Zaroff through a series of traps. In the end, it is implied that Rainsford has proven to be the greater hunter. Rainsford's last line of the story indicates that he slept in Zaroff's bed. Such an action can be read as a metaphor for his unwilling conversion into a hunter of men.
The darkness presented in the first scene of the story continues through the hunt and the eventual demise of Zaroff. In addition, there are many references to the color black. Ivan is described as having a long, black beard. Zaroff has black eyebrows and a black beard. The eyes of many of the characters are described as black pools. The thematic use of darkness and the color black adds to the suspenseful, dramatic timbre of the story.
The theme of war as a hunt resonates through the back story of "The Most Dangerous Game." Zaroff explicitly compares his game to warfare, as a form of justification. He also mentions the plight of the Cossacks, an ethnic group pushed out of Russia after the fall of the Czar. The manner in which they were hunted is similar to the way Zaroff hunts his current prey as the Cossacks were known as fierce warriors.
Zaroff has a rather demented way of viewing the world, one that Rainsford has a difficult time understanding. Zaroff points out numerous times that the hunting of men is not much unlike the hunting of wild animals. Moreover, men have long participated in socially sanctioned activities, such as wars, that result in the death of the opposing party. Zaroff's comparisons and the subsequent hunt constantly raise the question of the validity of any type of hunting or war.
Zaroff is a man of contradictions. While being an extremely "civilized" man in the sense that he is knowledgeable about aspects of high culture, he also presents himself as barbaric. The entire island is a contradiction. The lavish house stands starkly against the dark jungle where the hunt occurs. In some ways, Zaroff can be seen as a stand-in for humanity. The same irony that Zaroff presents in "The Most Dangerous Game" is also present at the pinnacle of civilization today - highly advanced and educated civilizations still murdering each other over land and resources.
Throughout the story there are a series of role inversions. For example, the hunter becomes the hunted twice. The first time, Rainsford is forced into the position of prey by Zaroff; the second, it is Rainsford that hunts Zaroff. The inversion of roles continues until the end of the story, at which point Rainsford metaphorically takes on the role of Zaroff by sleeping in his bed. Rainsford has ultimately been transformed by Zaroff's game.
Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game Essay examples
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Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game
In Richard Connell's short story, "The Most Dangerous Game';, the use of literary devices, found blended with other literary devices, gives the story an inner meaning. The blending of literary devices effectively expresses the intentions of Connell to present contrast between the antagonist and protagonist points of view. As a result, the reader can gain insight on the good and evil sides of the story to enhance the purpose of his interpretation. "The Most Dangerous Game'; by Richard Connell presents literary devices such as foreshadowing, setting, and irony which reveal the underlying meaning of the story.
Connell's use of foreshadowing creates an atmosphere of mystery and a hesitant…show more content…
Connell utilizes the strength of the story by combining the setting with mood to observe the reaction of the characters when the environment around them changes. For example, as the "poisonous [air]'; engulfs the yacht, it gives Whitney "a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread'; as Rainsford and him sail precariously towards the island (62). Whitney, frightened by the grim nature around him, feels like a wounded bird fighting for its life among the hungry predators hiding in the unknown. The shroud of darkness completely surrounds not only Whitney, but the entire yacht which leaves him in a state of anxiety because of what lies in cover amid the dreadful island. Furthermore, as the eyes of Zaroff scatter over the island, searching for Rainsford, "Rainsford froze there, every muscle tensed'; afraid that the eyes will see (73). With shelter high above in the trees, away from Zaroff, Rainsford awaits for the perfect moment where he will jump down from among the sky and pounce on Zaroff like a leopard killing its prey. Consequently, while Rainsford keeps repeating the moment of victory inside his mind; the self-confidence, overflowing out of his veins, develops into uncertainty. Since Zaroff possesses the island and with his military expertise, scouts the island for any advantages in hunt; Rainsford fears that Zaroff will counter the surprise attack and kill him, making the hunter become the prey. When Connell interweaves setting into mood, the method he uses touches