The Most Dangerous Game
by Richard Connell
The Most Dangerous Game Theme of Violence
The violence in “The Most Dangerous Game” is not just physical—it’s psychological. Connell sets up the dilemma from the get-go whether hunting is a brutal activity or an amusing sport. Deciding on one or the other depends a lot on how you feel about animals. "Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?" (1.10). Rainsford’s attitude suggests his willingness to commit violence without considering any of the ethical implications.
We quickly forget about that position once we meet General Zaroff, who ups the ante on the lack-of-compassion scale. Although he knows that human beings have feelings, that doesn’t stop him from committing violence against them. But at least he gives them a choice: be whipped by Ivan (who used to offer his skill to none other than the czar himself) or grab your gear and hit the path. Thanks for the options, chief.
Questions About Violence
- Is this a violent story by today’s standards? How would you change the story if you updated it for today?
- Who is the most violent character in the story?
- Is hunting just violence in “The Most Dangerous Game”—or is it a sport?
- Why do these characters consider violence a source of pleasure?
Chew on This
The violence in this story is as psychological as it is physical.
If you only consider what we as the reader “see” in the story, Rainsford is the most violent character.