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The Most Dangerous Game

By melimolina Dec 17, 2013 1416 Words
 “It’s a Dog Eat Dog World”
“Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong” (Connell 27). Rainsford did play the “game” in Richard Connell’s short story, proving that only the strongest survive. Who knew one fall could lead to so much misfortune. From the minute he fell off his yacht, Rainsford found himself in the biggest challenge of his life. In this short story, you learn that humans are not the only ones who have feelings, but that animals have feelings too. What most readers get out of this story is to be ready for anything that comes your way. At first he was on a yacht smoking a cigar to running for his life on an island. Richard Connell shows us a different perspective we have not thought of. He was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and “when his father died in 1912, Connell moved back East to attend Harvard University” (Wilson). While there he began to write for various magazines like the Daily Crimson and National Lampoon. Afterwards throughout his career he wrote screenplays for Hollywood movies (Wilson). Writing screenplays encouraged him to write novels such as “The Most Dangerous Game”. The story is about a hunter named Rainsford who falls off a ship and swims to an island. He finds living there General Zaroff, who hunts humans as a sport. After three days of fighting for his life in the jungle while Zaroff, with seemingly every advantage, hunts him, Rainsford manages to defeat Zaroff, who discovers that man really is “the most dangerous game” (“Themes and Construction”). The story demonstrates the major theme only the strongest survive. Also, to be the strongest you must be cunning as well. Rainsford shows this by making his own traps from his previous hunting adventures and hiding in unlikely places. Richard Connell develops his theme that only the strongest survive in his short story “The Most Dangerous Game” through the use of setting, irony, and imagery.

The setting in this story helps the reader visualize everything that happens. The jungle that Rainsford has to maneuver through is very chaotic and voluminous. He did not realize “what perils that tangle of trees and underbrush might hold for him” (Connell 22). The author is hinting at the struggle he will soon come face with. Through the description of the jungle, Connell shows the obstacles he will have to overcome. This is one of the tests to see if he would be the strongest to survive. In the story, “the jungle signifies confinement and Rainsford’s lack of discipline because it interferes with his effort to return to civilization” (Korb). He tries to do everything he can to get back home, but the jungle is in the way of that. Being able to know how to go through the jungle will show his strength and prove only the strongest survive. The second example of setting is the Ship-Trap Island. This is where all the pandemonium takes place. When General Zaroff says, “The island is perfect for my purpose-there are jungles with a maze of trails in them, hills, swamp” (Connell 26) it demonstrates all of the different obstacles. The descriptions depicts the lack of civilization and the limits he will be taken to. From conquering these tasks he will show his ability to be the strongest to survive. Not only is it a place where General Zaroff tortures his victims, but “the island represents a region where the laws authorizing normal human communication don’t exist” (Korb). Without any structure or rules, anarchy can happen at any time. As long as Rainsford is on the island he is in harms way. This uncharted region only holds three people and because of his mental and physical strength he’s able to make it his region.

Irony is shown throughout the story. It’s very ironic that Rainford ends up becoming the one who gets hunted since he’s a hunter himself. Proving that he knows Rainsford, General Zaroff says, “I’ve read your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see” (Connell 23). The fact that he wrote a book about hunting animals shows how dedicated he is to the sport. The book also shows that he is very skilled at hunting. By knowing the great skills of hunting he has an advantage, which is why he’s the strongest. It’s ironic that “Rainsford delights himself on being a skillful hunter but now he is the hunted” (“Themes and Construction”). It describes how easily the positions can get switched and that you must be prepared for anything that comes your way. Rainsford proved he was the strongest to survive by being able to adapt to his surroundings in a difficult situation.

The other example of irony is that Rainsford did not have any sympathy for the animals and thought they had no feelings. Rainsford says, “who cares how a jaguar feels?” (Connell 19). It shows how he felt at the beginning and from being put in this position his beliefs have changed. Animals always have to be the strongest to survive, allowing him to have the strengths like an animal. In the beginning of the story, “Rainsford thinks that no one should be concerned about how the prey feel and that they have no knowledge of what’s happening” (“EXPLORING Short Stories”). He doesn’t care about the animals he’s killing and he will be in for a rude awakening when the positions switch. Rainsford is proof that only the strongest survive by finally understanding how the animals have felt the entire time. By being the one who survives, he is also winning for other animals that have been hunted.

The imagery helps set the mood and brings the story to life. When Rainsford and his huntsmen were on the yacht there was a dark fog. It was so dark “that I could sleep without closing my eyes; the night would be my eyelids” (Connell 20). When the dark fog is around him it signifies the danger that awaits him. It also means that he’s embracing the darkness and this shows when the night acts as his eyelids. It gives the reader the idea that Rainsford is mentally ready for the challenge and he’ll be the strongest to survive. When they were on the yacht, “the sailors could be enticed to sit down and relax in that kind of humid air and fog, just like mankind could be drawn to darkness” (Thompson). The way they were enticed by the air shows how easily it is to be enticed by the darkside. Instead of getting into the darkside, Rainsford was able to destroy it. He has the power to deny darkness, one of the greatest strengths, proving that only the strongest survive.

Next, is the second example of imagery which are General Zaroff’s eyes. His eyes were the first signs of him being trouble. When Rainsford met General Zaroff “he saw the dead black eyes of the general on him, studying him” (Connell 23). At the time, Rainsford didn’t realize that General Zaroff was studying him for the hunt. It still gave him an advantage because he noticed what he was doing and was suspicious of his intentions. This small advantage helped him bring himself one step closer to victory and being the strongest to survive. The general hunts for only one reason; “the only thing he cares about is possessing a challenge and not what it does to others” (Wilson). General Zaroff does this sport because he loves the drive it gives him. Rainsford used to do it for the same reason, but now since he was put in this situation he realized how vicious it really was. Seeing that he understands both sides, he has the power and strength to defeat both animals, making him the strongest to survive.

Lastly, this story let us see both perspectives of the game of hunting, fear and evil. Connell signified how he survived and conquered his fears in “The Most Dangerous Game”. He began to hurry and hide, but being aware he could never escape; he chose to stare at them right in the face. Rainsford was able to defeat General Zaroff physically and mentally with the help of both sides of himself. Everybody has some little bit of darkness in them and given the right situation this can be unleashed no matter how “good” someone is.

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