Short Stories Compared

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The Most Dangerous Game
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 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. The Cask of Amontillado

The contrast between freedom and confinement is extreme in “The Cask of Amontillado.” For one character...
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