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"The Most Dangerous Game"

Richard Connell 1924
by

Jay Ranson

on 16 February 2011

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Transcript of "The Most Dangerous Game"

"The Most Dangerous Game" First published in 1924, the story has been frequently anthologized as a suspenseful narrative loaded with action. Connell's story raises the questions about nature of violence and the cruelty and ethics of hunting for sport. CONFLICT Man vs. Man
Rainsford vs. Zaroff, puts Rainsford’s life at stake but results in Zaroff’s death Man vs. Nature
Rainsford vs. the ocean, meaning that Rainsford must rely on his strength only since nature cannot be outsmarted
Rainsford must put himself back in the ocean, his first “enemy,” in order to escape Zaroff, who is the more threatening foe. Foreshadowing
Connell uses this to add suspense to the story.
The ship’s crew becomes uncomfortable
Even the captain appears to be afraid
Rainsford hears shots fired and a scream
Beast is killed

THEMES Violence and Cruelty
The story builds around explosions of violence.
Zaroff attempts to justify his violence with "civilized" arguments - posing as a modern rationalist and arguing against "romantic ideas about the value of human life."
The image of the decapitated heads on Zaroff's wall opens up parallels between the murder of humans and the murder of animals. Connell asks the question: If hunting humans for kicks is murder, then how does this differ from hunting animals?
On the symbolic level, Connell directs the reader to sympathize with Rainsford as the reader begins to feel what it is like to be a hunted animal.
Ironically, as Connell attempts to convey the horrors of violence, he is relying on the reader's capacity to enjoy reading about violence in order to convey these ideas - mixing violence and cruelty with pleasure in order to engage the reader and make a statement at the same time. Revenge
This theme raises the question of whether Rainsford has become a murderer just as General Zaroff once was portrayed to be.
Zaroff's murder is not an act of self-defense as it would have been before Rainsford won the game; therefore, it is either an act of revenge or killing for sport.
The question of the motive behind Rainsford's actions makes the reader ask even more questions that arise with the story's conclusion:
Since Rainsford does not set the other "prey" free as soon as he murders Zaroff, does he intend to free them? Does his pleasant night's rest on the island indicate his desire to stay? Point of View Features the third-person omniscient narrator
From whose perspective is most of the story told?
At the end of the story, whose perspective is followed? What does the shift in point of view help illustrate about the "hunter" and "huntee"? In Jim Welsh's essay "Hollywood Plays the Most Dangerous Game," he states "The movie has been ridculously over-rated, but, as an adaptation, I cannot think of a more revealing negative example."
On a separate sheet of paper, write down Welsh's quote.
As we view the film, take down notes about its portrayal of Connell's short story on the big screen that help support the above quote. The Hollywood Treatment
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