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The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell - Essay Example

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In the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, the author tells the tale of Sangar Rainsford, a world renowned big game hunter who is thrust into the role of the hunted. On the way to hunt jaguars in the Amazon forest, Rainsford is washed overboard and deserted in the ebony night…
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The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
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Sangar Rainsford: Unmasking the Character In the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, the author tells the tale of Sangar Rainsford, a world renowned big game hunter who is thrust into the role of the hunted. On the way to hunt jaguars in the Amazon forest, Rainsford is washed overboard and deserted in the ebony night. He makes his way to Ship-Trap Island, which is cursed by the myth of sailors' lore. Rainsford, not given to superstition, welcomes the sight of lights on the island. Here he is confronted with General Zarnoff whose peculiar entertainment is hunting the human animal. Rainsford becomes the prey and in doing so the author unveils the resourcefulness and animal instinct that lies below Rainsford's pompous exterior. Here we glimpse the evil that lies at the primal core of all men such as Rainsford.
Rainsford is portrayed as a man of breeding and good manners. He hunts animals because he believes they have no understanding and are incapable of feeling fear or pain. He shows his arrogance on the yacht by insisting he knows the mind of the jaguar and rebuffing the anecdotal tales of Ship-Trap Island as nonsense. Rainsford's smug attitude is further revealed as he "indolently puffed on his favorite brier". However, in his first physical challenge, Rainsford falls overboard as he struggles to retain the symbol of his self-indulgent aristocracy, his treasured pipe.
The pompous Rainsford now confronts the sea and a more resourceful man is revealed. He "wrestled himself out of his clothes", as the yacht became a dim drone in the distance. The keen-witted Rainsford is able to make his way to the direction of the gunshots and locate the chateau of General Zarnoff. Zarnoff feeds and clothes Rainsford and tells him of his grisly preoccupation with hunting humans. Rainsford is repulsed by the idea and demonstrates his basic belief in puritan civilization by perceiving Zarnoff as a murderer. This ambiguity in Rainsford, the hunter but not murderer, is the out of place exterior, the "snuffbox in a limousine".
Rainsford's animal prowess is exemplified by Zarnoff's desire to hunt him. Rainsford is a worthy opponent. In the ensuing struggle against Zarnoff, Rainsford is further stripped of his outward material ego. He is trapped in the realm of the hunted and is taken into his seamy underworld of survival and cunning. As Rainsford is forced to struggle against the onslaught of Zarnoff, layers of manners and good conduct are stripped away and replaced by rationalization and primal fear. Faced with extinction, Rainsford progresses from hiding to setting lethal traps in an attempt to kill Zarnoff.
The author shows us that Rainsford sees himself in Zarnoff. They are both hunters, refined, and of exquisite taste. Yet, Rainsford comments that, "perhaps the general was a devil". In the end, Rainsford turns the challenges that he has mastered, the sea and the night, to his advantage to get the drop on Zarnoff. By overcoming his stuffy exterior he has conquered his fears. He loses the last vestige of his illusory self-image and kills Zarnoff. For Rainsford, the moral torment of pain, fear, and murder have vanished and now, and only now, can Rainsford rest easy.
Works Cited
Connell, Richard. "The Most Dangerous Game." Classic Short Stories. 2007. B&L Associates. 30 Jan. 2007 . Read More
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