The Three Hunters

Richard Connell and Ray Bradbury introduce the reader to experienced hunters who share three common character traits in their short stories. After comparing and contrasting character traits among Rainsford and Zaroff from Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” and Eckels from Bradbury’s, “A Sound of Thunder,” one sees that the best hunter of the group is Rainsford. While each character possesses patience, observancy, and the ability to handle pressure, Rainsford uses these traits in the wisest and most proficient manner. Hunters need many different assets, yet patience is one of the most important.

The key to being a successful hunter is being patient. Rainsford demonstrates his patience in many ways during the three days of the most dangerous game. Unlike Rainsford, Eckels shows no patience on his own hunt millions of years prior: “Out of the mist a hundred yards away, came the Tyrannosaurus rex” (Bradbury 84). Rainsford’s patience is the key factor that separates him from Eckels, who becomes frantic during the hunt. Through Ship Trap Island, Zaroff is able to portray his patience as well. Eckels, on the contrary, cannot attain the same sense of imperturbability, because he constantly asks questions: “Eckels flushed. Where’s our Tyrannosaurus?” (Bradbury 84). Zaroff has the ability to slowly guide a ship to provide more participants in the most dangerous game, unlike Eckels, whose prey comes running at him. Eckels simply has no patience, a sharp contrast to both Zaroff and Rainsford. To demonstrate his dedication and commitment, Zaroff says, “So I bought this island, built this house, and here I do my hunting. (Connell 21) Eckels’ lack of patience is unfit for a task such as the most dangerous game. Rainsford’s patience is greater than that of both Zaroff and Eckels. Being patient is a useful trait, but without keen observance, all chances of success are dashed.

While hunting, being observant of your surroundings and enemies can mean the difference between life and death. Rainsford makes use of his senses by observing the environment of Ship Trap Island and using it to his advantage. Eckels however, fails to use the natural environment 60,002,055 years in the past, “A sound on the floor of the time machine stiffened them. Eckels sat there shivering.” (Bradbury 86). While Eckels can barely walk through the forest without getting himself killed, Rainsford has the ability to use his surroundings to injure and kill his enemies. Zaroff can be observant as well, but his skills are not honed as precisely as those of Rainsford. While not up to par with Rainsford, Zaroff is still more observant than Eckels, who is constantly corrected by the leaders of the hunt, “Stay on the path. Stay on the path!” (Bradbury 84). Zaroff scours the path for bits of information, while Eckels can barely keep on it. Eckels has no skill of observing, nearly meeting death on several occasions. Rainsford is quite the opposite, using many parts of nature to his advantage, “… the dead tree, delicately adjusted to rest on the cut living one, crashed down and struck the general a glancing blow…” (Connell 27). Eckels lack of observancy is the polar opposite of Rainsford, and this puts his life at risk. While Rainsford uses many aspects of the jungle to put him ahead, Zaroff and Eckels fall behind. Despite one’s skills of making traps and observing the wild, pressure can make or break a person.

Handling pressure can lead anyone to succeed, but failing to do so can result in disastrous conclusions. Of the three, Rainsford deals with pressure in the most effective manner. Unlike Eckels, who stumbles and almost gets himself killed during the hunt for the tyrannosaurus with Lesperance, Rainsford makes sound decisions in matters of life and death, “Eckels! He took a few steps blinking, shuffling. Not that way!” (Bradbury 85). Rainsford is not only able to survive the strikes of those who attack him, but actually manages to kill them under intense pressure. Zaroff is also able to deal with the stress that comes with pressure. Zaroff perseveres through pressure and is able to keep a calm disposition, unlike Eckels, who loses his confidence during the hunt, “”It can’t be killed,” Eckels pronounced this verdict quietly, as if there could be no argument.” (Bradbury 85). Zaroff uses his knowledge of past experiences to stay calm and continue the hunt. Unlike the other two, Eckels cannot handle pressure. Rainsford displays the polar opposite of Eckels untimely actions. “His mind worked frantically. He thought of a native trick he learned in Uganda… “The knife, driven by the recoil of the springing tree, had not wholly failed.” (Connell 28). While Rainsford uses all of his time to his advantage, Eckels fails to comply. Rainsford uses every second he has to make a positive situation for himself, while Zaroff and Eckels are not as capable of attaining such perfection.

Rainsford’s Character in “The Most Dangerous Game”

“The Most Dangerous Game” is a short story and thriller by Richard Connell, which takes place after World War II on a remote island. The story chronicles the misadventures of a distraught castaway, as he makes his way through a mad man’s playground, narrowly escaping death at each turn. General Zaroff, the castaway’s captor, forces Rainsford into a game of murder that ends in Zaroff’s demise. Rainsford, the protagonist, is an embodiment of our inner man, the beast that dwells just below our outer psyche, the part of us that others, even those held close, fails to see. Throughout the story, Rainsford’s beliefs, temperament, sense of self and ultimate state of consciousness morph as the story progresses, which makes him a hard to miss, dynamic character. The most notable change in Rainsford is in his beliefs. Rainsford, an adept hunter, initially believes that animals experience no fear or recognizable emotion. He demonstrates this when he jubilantly states, “Who cares what a jaguar feels?”(11). He later insinuates that animals have no intelligence as he proudly declares, “Bah, they have no understanding” (11). Rainsford takes his egotistic beliefs and opinions further by ridiculing the animals he hunts and by partitioning his humanity from their primitive existence. His paradigm shifts dramatically when Zaroff announces his plans to hunt Rainsford down. He is released into the island’s dense jungle and abandons his treasured humanity in order to survive. During Zaroff’s challenge, Rainsford imitates the very animals he gallantly hunts. As the hunted, he feels the dreaded fear of the hunter, Zaroff. Briefly, Rainsford attempts to turn the tide on Zaroff by tapping into the fox’s trickery to confuse Zaroff. By doing so he acknowledges an animal’s intelligence. While awaiting Zaroff’s approach, Rainsford experiences anxiety while hiding in a tree, paralleling the jaguar. In the process, Rainsford changes. He shows an understanding, if not mutual respect, for animal emotion, in those actions.Rainsford’s shifting temperament changes next. He originally hails himself a marvelous hunter, best of his field, top of his class. Likewise, he thinks of himself as an elite class, hunter; while the other, seemingly weak, people are destined to be hunted. Before his capture, he tells his companion, Whitney that “the world is made up of two classes-the hunters and the huntees” (11). He goes on to state, “Luckily you and I are the hunters” (11).That fact does not hold true. The minute Rainsford steps onto Shiptrap Island, he becomes the hunted. He is also shocked that despite his best efforts, using all of his extensive hunter knowledge, he is not able to evade Zaroff. He eventually comes to the realization that he is not the best hunter and anyone can suddenly become the “huntee” (11).Along with his thoughts and temperament, Rainsford’s consciousness also begins to warp. During his initial meeting with Zaroff, Rainsford holds himself as a civilized member of society. After the unveiling of Zaroffs plans to hunt humans, he draws a wedge between Zaroff and himself under the grounds that he respects life yet Zaroff, an insane brute, does not. All his preconceived notions soon change. The first hint of the monster inside of Rainsford is evident when “he [feels] an impulse to cry aloud with joy…he [hears] the sharp crackle of braking branches as the cover of the pit [gives] way…he [hears] a sharp scream of pain as the pointed stakes [find] their mark.”(24). as his trap finally works on one of Zaroff’s dogs. In his tone, an apparent blood lust is audible if not visible from the sheer enjoyment found in the potential loss of life. Even after beating Zaroff at his own game and essentially earning his freedom, Rainsford still feels a hidden, inner impulse, a burning desire from inside. That impulse may very well be his animal instinct taking over when he says, “I am still the beast at bay” (25). After uttering those words he goes and defies his own logic and sanity by butchering Zaroff. Rainsford enlists himself into the ranks of the savage. His entrance into the realm of insanity becomes indisputable when he peacefully slumbers in Zaroff’s bed after committing murder. He becomes much like the animals and moves even closer to Zaroff, losing the ability to differentiate right from wrong.All things considered, a great deal can be learned from Rainsford’s experiences. He is an dynamic character whose brazen behavior helps us further diagnose the human condition. All people are good, yet all hold the potential for evil. Philosophers analogize humans to rolling stones. All must roll but not all must wade in the same moss. Humans are born good natured but social pressures twist a human’s perception of life, much like Rainsford on Ship Trap Island. The darkness inside of him is only awakened by the stress of General Zaroff’s challenge. His mind struggles to accommodate to its new environment and living conditions. Rainsford simply serves as a warning that the same beast dwells inside us all. Or is it already out?

The Most Dangerous Game: A Hunt For Morality

Albert Einstein once said, “Force always attracts men of low morality.” This statement illustrates the idea that men with low values or standards will often use force to build up a feeling of dominance which also makes someone oblivious to inhumane actions. General Zaroff is a perfect example of this type of man. In Richard Connell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” the author shows that Zaroff’s power demands him to use force to control the lives of other people. Rainsford stumbles upon Ship Trap Island and meets General Zaroff. Zaroff informs Rainsford that he will be part of his game. Rainsford seems to be the character that is affected by Zaroff’s forceful and demanding actions. Although Rainsford and Zaroff are skilled hunters with similar personalities, their set of morals and the way they respect others are very different.

Though they have many differences, Rainsford and Zaroff have very similar personalities. Early in the story Rainsford states. “‘The best sport in the world’” (Connell 40). Rainsford’s statement has significance because he is referring to his love of hunting. His love for an intense hunt illustrates his desire for a thrill and entertainment on each of his adventures. While on the yacht, Rainsford tells Whitney, “‘You’re a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how the jaguar feels’” (Connell 40). This statement clearly shows Rainsford’s thoughts and views on hunting. It is obvious that Rainsford shows a lack of concern and respect for the animals he hunts because he feels that he is the superior species and abuses his dominance which makes him disregard and feelings of the less superior animal. Zaroff shares many of these characteristics as well. When speaking with Rainsford, Zaroff declares, “‘Hunting tigers ceased to interest me some years ago. I exhausted their possibilities you see. No thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for danger, Mr. Rainsford’” (Connell 47). Zaroff is expressing that he needs thrill and danger to make hunting an enjoyable activity just as Rainsford does. He also says that once he finds no more pleasure in hunting certain game, he needs to move on to a more challenging competition to relish the hunt. Zaroff then says to Rainsford, “‘That is why I use them. It gives me pleasure’” (Connell 50). This quote is significant because it shows the shallowness and lack of respect Zaroff has for the creatures he kills. The quote helps us realize that Zaroff is only using the creatures for personal enjoyment, with no intention of the creature’s feelings. Therefore, Rainsford and Zaroff both share the love of an exciting hunt. Also, each character has no sympathy or regard to their game’s suffering and misfortune.

For the reader to understand the reasoning behind the actions of Zaroff and Rainsford they must first recognize each character’s moral values. Like Rainsford, Zaroff has no concern for the lives of the animals he hunts. Zaroff, though, takes his lack of concern of animals and turns it into an extreme as he evolves to have no concern for the lives of men. After revealing to Rainsford his hunting philosophy, Zaroff says, “‘I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life…’” (Connell 49). Zaroff’s message in the quote deeply emphasizes his immorality and corruption. To any reasonable human being, including Rainsford, the idea of murdering men for personal enjoyment seems absolutely absurd. To Zaroff, though, this idea is perfectly acceptable, and perhaps should be expected for an educated man of the upper-class. On the other hand, Rainsford believes killing humans in place of animals is not hunting at all; it is strictly murder. Rainsford express his objection to Zaroff’s thinking by exclaiming, “‘Hunting? Good God, General Zaroff what you speak of is murder’”(Connell 49). In contrast to Zaroff’s view on hunting humans, Rainsford believes there is no exception to cold-blooded murder. In essence, Zarroff seems completely blinded from the reality of his inhumanity and brutality because all he has ever known is the intensity of the hunt. Throughout the characters’ argument, Zaroff constantly denies any form of cruelty and indecency in his actions; he only recognizes it as hunting and never murder. For this reason, it is clear that Rainsford has a significantly higher level of morality and values human life far more than General Zaroff. Perhaps the greatest difference between Zaroff and Rainsford can be found in the way each of the characters respect people.

Zaroff not only gets a thrill from killing other men as a way of hunting, but he also shows no respect for a person’s backgrounds or ethnicity. Zaroff, when speaking about Ivan, he tells Rainsford, ‘“A simple fellow, but I’m afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage’” (Connell 44). Ivan is a Russian Cossack, and this claim about him illustrates Zaroff’s view on Cossacks as savages. Zaroff also makes a point that not all men are equal; some men are simply better than others. Zaroff tells Rainsford, “‘Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong’” (Connell 49). Zaroff is telling Rainsford that men of the higher class, or ‘the strong,’ are more important to civilization, and that they should take the world from the weak. Zaroff’s most unreasonable point is seen in this statement: “‘I hunt the scum of the earth–sailors from ship tramps–lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels–a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them’” (Connell 49). Zaroff’s racism and self pride is seen through this quote. Zaroff refers to almost anyone who is not a Russian as ‘the scum of the earth.’ He also says that in some cases a horse or hound is more valuable than the lives of any sailor, black man, Chinese man, or any white man. These points clearly show that Zaroff believes that Russian is the elite race and superior to the race or ethnicity of any other man. Throughout all of Zaroff’s racist comments, Rainsford strongly emphasizes the fact that they are still men. Following one of Zaroff’s statements Rainsford exclaims, “‘But they are men”’(Connell 49). Rainsford had begun to get angry at Zaroff’s ridiculous comments and reveals his strong disagreements with Zaroff. This also shows that Rainsford believes no matter anyone’s race or background, no one deserves to be thrown off their boat and forced to battle a vicious man on an island for three days. After realizing the thoughts of each character one can conclude that Zaroff and Rainsford have different amounts of respect for people. Zaroff thinks he is better than all other people, but Rainsford holds on to the idea that men are men and should be treated with the same level of respect.

In Richard Connell’s short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” he emphasizes that Rainsford and Zaroff both have outstanding hunting skill and similar personalities, but each character proves to maintain different ideals about morality and their treatment towards others. Zaroff and Rainsford share a similar personality because they both have a love for hunting and live for the thrill and excitement that goes with it. Each character also has little regard for the animals they kill in their hunts. Rainsford, though, values human life more than Zaroff. Rainsford is furious that Zaroff thinks it is okay to kill men because Zaroff only sees men as his hunting game. Rainsford also has more respect and is more accepting of all types of men. Zaroff is a racist and places himself at a higher value than other men. Furthermore, though they have a common love for hunting, Rainsford and Zaroff’s major difference in human morality outweighs any other similarity. Their diverse views act as a type of fuel for Rainsford as he is determined to put an end to Zaroff’s inhumane madness. Ultimately, Rainsford and Zaroff are almost nothing alike because of Zaroff’s such barbaric thoughts and action, therefore, Einstein proves to be correct: force does attract men of low morality.

Analyzing Suspense in ‘The Most Dangerous Game’

Suspense is one of the most effective tools used to grip the readers undivided attention in creative writing. It pulls the reader into the story, and gets them invested in the characters and the story line. It creates the intense feeling of needing to know what happens next. In “The Most Dangerous Game” Richard Connell successfully sustains the suspense with his skillful use of diction and setting as well as the carefully crafted antagonist, General Zaroff.

Richard Connell’s use of setting to increase the suspense is impeccable. In the beginning of the story, when Rainsford and some crew members are discussing ‘Ship Trap Island’ one of the crew members says “The place has a reputation, a bad one” and another says “This place has an evil name among seafaring men” to describe the island General Zaroff inhabits and hunts on (also known as ‘Ship Trap Island’). The reader feels anxious and nervous and wonders about what gives this island its fear-invoking reputation. Later in the story, when General Zaroff (antagonist) describes his hunting and how he traps people on his island, he says “Giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide open jaws”. Using the analogy of ‘a sea monster with wide open jaws’ makes the setting a little more ominous and scary. The more eerie the setting, the more frightening it is. In this story, Connell utilizes the eeriness of his setting to make his story more suspenseful.

Diction is another one of the techniques used by Connell to add suspense to his story. After Rainsford falls into the Caribbean he hears screams that were an “extremity of anguish and terror”. Connell’s use of ‘anguish and terror’ as opposed to ‘fear’ makes of feel more scared and makes us want to continue on to find out who or what made such horrifying screams. When Zaroff talks about how he hunts, he says “to date I have not lost”. When he says this clipped sentence, we feel like something is left unsaid. Something like “and I do not plan to lose in the future”. He leaves the sentence hanging and this only increases the suspense. When he propositions Rainsford, he says “Your brain against mine”. This is another sentence that makes us feel like something has been left hanging. You feel like he is implying something, voicing his thoughts silently and subtly. When you do not know exactly what someone is thinking, especially the villain, you experience a feeling of even more suspense.

General Zaroff is the villain in this short story, and his mysterious persona and hospitality only increases our suspicions and fear about him. Connell creates an antagonist who, at first, gives shelter to our protagonist (Rainsford). It is later revealed, in a shocking twist that the reader is led into from the first paragraphs itself, that he hunts people for sport. His blasé attitude towards hunting people and animals is creepy and oddly intriguing at the same time. When talking with Rainsford he says “It would be impossible for me to tell you how many animals I have killed” and says that he is surprised that Rainsford “harbours romantic ideas about the value of human life”. These lines show his attitude and beliefs towards hunting for pleasure as well as the fact that he is unrepentant and has no qualms about killing to prevent boredom. When Rainsford first arrives it is said that “His smile showed red lips and stave off teeth”. This gives him the appearance of a predator. He also (when justifying hunting humans) says that “The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure” showing his views of superiority and the people (his inferiors-if you will).Connell’s brilliant but scary villain adds suspense and intrigue to the story and makes the story even more enjoyable.

Overall, Richard Connell effectively sustains the suspense with several techniques including setting and diction. He skillfully crafts an intriguing and mysterious villain, General Zaroff, creating eerie settings and uses word choice to heighten the intensity of the story itself. When reading “The Most Dangerous Game”, Connell makes us sweat up until the very end. He draws the reader into the narrative, and gets them invested in the characters and their mysteries. His diction creates the intense feeling of needing to know what happens next and keeps the reader on his toes throughout the story. The story ends brilliantly and with our protagonist triumphant, enjoying a well deserved rest.