The Most Dangerous Game is a short story composed by Richard Connell. The story is widely considered as Connell’s most renowned works. The story revolves around its main character, who is also a hunter of big-game hailing from New York. He gets a shipwreck on some isolated island within the Caribbean region as he escapes the hunt of one of Russia’s aristocrats. The story depicts an ironic & sardonic inversion of the hunting safaris in South America and Africa whereby big-game hunting was a fashionable hobby of rich Americans during the 1920s.
A Quick Overview of the Story
The story begins with Sanger Rainsford steaming towards Brazil in a bid to hunt the Jaguars of the Amazon accompanied by another hunter by the name Whitney. Connell depicts Rainsford as an archetype of a heartless hunter who does not care about his prey’s emotions. During the voyage, Rainsford falls over to one side of the yacht accidentally. However, he manages to swim to a rocky shore within a strange island. While going inland, he comes across a huge manor-house on top of a cliff. After knocking at the door, he is warmly received by General Zaroff. This is a gentle, elegant man with an aristocratic Cossack heritage. Seemingly, he is alone on the island in the company of his powerful servant. He goes by the name Ivan.
Zaroff elucidates to Rainsford that he is the best big-game hunter whose sole purpose in life is hunting. He has traversed the world hunting all kinds of game animals. However, he has become so skilled that he is now bored with his favorite hobby. Now, to enhance both the thrill and challenge of the hunt, he has resolved to hunt humans. He lives ostentatiously on the secluded island as he dupes sailors into shipwrecking close to his island through the use of deceptive navigation lights.
When surviving crew make it to his shores safely, Zaroff offers them a choice: they either get murdered by Ivan or opt to be hunted as prey by him. In case they evade him for three days, he sets them free. Zaroff gives Rainsford similar conditions: to become the prey or die.
Rainsford must now set out and survive three days being hunted as a game animal equipped with a knife and a sack of food. The story ends with a focus on events that occur when the two expert hunters eventually match wits.