Connell uses direct characterization when he is describing General Zaroff’s looks. The author stated, “He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his think eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come. His eyes, too, were black and very bright. He had high cheek bones, a sharp-cut nose, a spare, dark face, the face of a man used to giving orders, the face of an aristocrat.” This is direct characterization because the author is describing something about the character using adjectives.
The author uses indirect characterization when telling us about General Zaroff’s personality. First of all, when he keeps serving Rainsford wine, you can tell something is very wrong with this man because he is trying to make Rainsford lose his inhibition. Then, when he tells Rainsford that he hunts humans, he portrays an evil and malevolent personality. As he continues to speak of his “game,” his impression that he leaves on the readers gets worse and worse. Although the author does not describe General Zaroff’s personality word for word, he makes it clear through this character’s words and actions. General Zaroff also feels superior to all animals and men. He said, “Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if need be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth-sailors from tramp ships-lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels-a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them.” This proves that he feels that he is superior to all beings, which is an evil thing to believe. This character is truly greedy, selfish, and cruel.
First of all, General Zaroff has an advantage because he knows the land better than all the people he hunts. This means that it is easy for the general to find everybody. General Zaroff also has much more experience than all the men; he is able to elude almost every trap. The general also stated, “Occasionally I strike a tartar. One almost did win. I eventually had to use the dogs.” General Zaroff has vicious dogs he lets out to help him find his prey. He only provides his prey with the basic essentials, while he has a great variety of guns and ammunition. He thinks he is “nice” because he gives his prey a head start, but really, this man is nothing but evil.
In the beginning of the story, Rainsford has no mercy for animals. He tells Whitney, “The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are the hunters.” He does not feel even the slightest bit of sympathy for the prey he kills. Rainsford asks, “Who cares how the jaguar feels?” Rainsford is an avid hunter and only cares about the kill. Later in the story, when Rainsford is being hunted by General Zaroff, the author states, “Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.” Once Rainsford is put in the position of an animal, he is able to realize the horror the animal feels when it knows it is going to be killed. Sometimes, all it takes to truly understand someone or something is to be put in its position.
In the discussion between Whitney and Rainsford, Rainsford doesn’t care about the animals he hunts. In the discussion between Rainsford and General Zaroff, General Zaroff doesn’t care about the humans he hunts. In my opinion, Rainsford is more like General Zaroff than Whitney in these conversations. Whitney is more considerate than Rainsford; he cares about how the animals feel. When speaking of how a jaguar feels to Rainsford, Whitney stated, “Even so, I rather think they understand one thing—fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death.” Rainsford is more like General Zaroff because they both don’t care about their prey. The only difference is that General Zaroff’s prey is humans, and Rainsford’s prey is animals. The general stated, “I hunt the scum of the earth—sailors from trail shops—lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels…it gives me pleasure.” Unlike General Zaroff, Rainsford cares about human lives. General Zaroff will do anything to get a good hunt. He states At the end of the story, Rainsford is able to trap the general. He wins the game, and thankfully, General Zaroff has to stop his game, which solves the conflict in the story.
“The Most Dangerous Game” is commercial fiction. First of all, the story contains a plot of horror and danger— hunting humans and animal cruelty. An example of this horror is when the yacht reached a deserted island, and Whitney stated, “Even cannibals wouldn’t live in such a God-forsaken place…” This is a plot that a literary fiction story wouldn’t have. The story is also very fast paced. There is always something important going on. Also, the story doesn’t focus much on characterization; you develop an understanding of the character as the story goes on(indirect characterization). The theme is very obvious(animal cruelty), and the language isn’t very complex.
When Rainsford was eating dinner with the general, the author stated, “Whenever he looked up from his plate he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly.” General Zaroff was probably appraising Rainsford because he wanted to hunt for him. The general wanted Rainsford to play his game. The general most likely wanted to know everything about Rainsford’s hunting experience to ensure that he would be a difficult player for him to hunt. General Zaroff wanted a challenge. He was getting bored of hunting because all his prey were to easy to kill. Rainsford, a famous and avid hunter, was the perfect match for him because of all the experience he had. The general was ready to make another kill.
The island setting helps give a creepy and dangerous vibe to the story. The author wrote, “Bleak darkness was blacking out the sea and jungle…” The way the author vividly describes the island helps develop a sense of fear as the reader reads the story. This deserted island played a literal and thematic role in the story. It helped develop the scary theme of the story. If this story didn’t take place on an island, the reader most likely wouldn’t have felt as much suspense as he/she could. The island setting also plays a literal role. Since the island is mostly uninhabited, General Zaroff knows the land the best. This helps give the huntees a disadvantage when playing the game. This island setting helps develop the story, and the story wouldn’t be the same without it.
While on the yacht, Rainsford asked Whitney, “Who cares how the jaguar feels?” This statement is ironic because eventually, Rainsford would be in the position of the jaguar. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford doesn’t care about how the animals feel. He only cares about the hunt. Since Rainsford is an avid hunter, he is constantly killing animals, indifferent to how they feel. When General Zaroff makes him play the game, he suddenly realizes how the animal feels. The author stated, “Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.” After he played the game, he would probably answer his own question differently. He would say, “I care how the jaguar feels. Everyone should.”
One example of figurative language is when the author wrote, “The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window.” This statement sets a calm mood. The two men were having a peaceful conversation on the yacht. This is the one of the few times that the mood in the story is calm. Another figurative language device is when Whitney tells Rainsford about the upcoming island and says, “The old-charts call it Ship-Trap Island.’” This is an example of foreshadowing. Later in the story, we find out why the island is named “Ship-Trap Island.” The author tells us it is because General Zaroff messes with the lights to make sailors hit the rocks on the island. He then captures them and makes them play his game.
When Rainsford is playing Zaroff’s game, he makes several traps to try to capture Zaroff. The author wrote, “[Rainsford] thought of a native trick he learned in Uganda.” This trap killed Ivan. Rainsford also made a trap he had originally made in France, and it killed one of Zaroff”s best dogs. He made one other trap as well that hurt Zaroff’s shoulder. As one can see, Rainsford’s part hunting experience helped him immensely when playing the game. As he traveled around the world, he learned several skills that would help him win this cruel game. Withought this past knowledge, Rainsford would most like have been killed.