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Juxtaposition Gives Balance to the Hunter and Hunted in Richard Connells the Most Dangerous Game

“The Most Dangerous Game,” a short story by Richard Connell, published on January 14, 1924, by Collier’s, describes a gripping story of a thrilling hunting tale for survival and the human limits associated with the hunting experience. The plot of this masterpiece revolves around Sanger Rainsford, the protagonist in the story. Although Rainsford is a skilled hunter, he is preyed upon by General Zaroff (Stelly 9). Zaroff orchestrates a sadistic game on his concealed island to hunt and kill Rainsford. Through a careful analysis of the character of Sanger Rainsford, this essay will examine Rainsford’s transformation from a cold-hearted hunter to an empathetic hunter with the ability to confront his morality when faced with extreme adversity.

In the story, we see Rainsford undergoing a remarkable character development that allows him to transition from a callous hunter to a more empathetic and compassionate person. This aspect is evident in the story due to his evolving survival instincts, changing hunting attitude, and moral decision, as evidenced at the story’s climax. It is crucial to note that at the story’s opening, Rainsford considers hunting a meager sport with insignificant ethical considerations (Connell 8). In his initial interaction with Whitney, Rainsford reveals his belief and justifies hunting by stating that animals have no emotions or feelings. He is very proud of being a skillful hunter and passionate about his hunting experience, as evidenced in his conversation with Zaroff. However, as the story progresses, his perspective on hunting changes when he becomes hunted. The desperation and experiences of being hunted make him shift his beliefs regarding hunting. Rainsford’s ability to change his attitude towards hunting demonstrates his new understanding of valuing life and growing empathy.

Throughout the story, Rainsford’s survival instincts enable him to adapt and survive treacherous circumstances and complex challenges that succumb to him. In the story, Rainsford is depicted as resourceful and a quick thinker, which enables him to elude Zaroff’s pursuit and construct traps for him. His ability to think rationally and overcome fear in dangerous circumstances is evidenced by his quick decision to elude Zaroff’s hounds by jumping into the sea (Connell 10). Rainsford evolving character and resilience are demonstrated by his determination to outwit his adversary and survive despite the constant dangerous situations that surround him. In essence, Rainsford’s survival instincts reflect his transformative journey into a resourceful and resilient individual who can overcome his dire circumstances.

At the story’s peak, Rainsford faces the challenge of making a critical moral decision that tends to shake his newfound empathy. In the story, Rainsford initially struggles when confronted with the option of standing up against Zaroff’s sadistic game or becoming his next victim (Connell 15). Rainsford is faced with a moral dilemma after realizing he has no choice but to kill Zaroff to protect future victims and stops the cycle of violence. His final decision to eliminate Zaroff demonstrates the climax in his character development, where he ultimately decides to confront cruelty. His moral decision is an excellent illustration of his transformative journey from a bystander to a willing individual ready to make sacrifices and difficult choices for humanity, fairness, and justice.

In conclusion, Richard Connell skillfully crafts Rainsford’s character in “The Most Dangerous Game” by taking the audience on an exciting and thrilling journey of transformation and self-discovery. Rainsford’s survival instincts, evolving attitudes towards hunting, and his ability to make a moral decision at the height of the story, is an excellent examples of his transformation journey from a callous hunter to an empathetic and compassionate person willing to make sacrifices and challenge the cruel meted in the world. I have analyzed and highlighted the complexity and depth of Rainsford’s transformation in this character analysis. As such, I invite all readers and audiences to reflect critically on the nature of humanity and morality.

Works Cited

Connell, Richard. “The Most Dangerous Game.” Collier’s, January 14, 1924.

Stelly. C. Mathew. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell: Critique and Cross-Cultural Commentary. 2016. Accessed June 20, 2023.


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