The Most Dangerous Game
by Richard Connell
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
Also published as "The Hounds of Zaroff," “The Most Dangerous Game” offers a clever play on words, with game carrying two different meanings: (1) human beings as Zaroff's hunted and (2) the competition, or game, between the hunter (Zaroff) and the hunted (Rainsford and other castoffs).
On the night they meet, Rainsford dines with Zaroff, and we learn a lot about what the general sees as the most dangerous game (i.e., prey): human beings, because they have the ability to reason. Humans are the ultimate challenge—the ultimate game.
So who or what is the “most dangerous game”? The title suggests that hunting other people is the most dangerous game and that people themselves are the most dangerous prey (game) to hunt. But that still leaves us with a question: Between Zaroff and Rainsford, who is the more dangerous game? The one who doesn’t value human life, or the one who wins in the end and (claims to) value human life but feeds his opponents to the hounds?