Criticism of The Most Dangerous Game

Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

'The Most Dangerous Game' is a short story by Richard Connell first published in 1924 in Colliers Magazine. In this lesson, we will explore the critical responses to this tale of adventure and suspense.

A Story of Adventure and Suspense

Originally published in 1924, Richard Connell's short story, The Most Dangerous Game tells the tale of Sanger Rainsford and his short stay on a most peculiar island. Hailed as Connell's best work, it also won the O. Henry Memorial Award for best short story.

Imagine you fall off the side of your yacht into the ocean and are left to fight for your survival. This is what happens to Sanger Rainsford in this story. He ends up on an island and the guest of the mysterious General Zaroff. What ensues between them is the suspenseful story of Rainsford trying to escape the hunting prowess of the clever General Zaroff. Rainsford's surprising success and eventual revenge on Zaroff provide a unique ending to this exciting story.

Let's explore some of the characteristics of this story that literary critics have discussed.

Structure of the Story

Literary critics have discussed many characteristics of the story including the title, point of view, characters, and suspense.


The Most Dangerous Game
Title page of The Most Dangerous Game

The title alone invites the reader into a world of danger, suspense, and adventure. The title suggests that a game will be played, but the stakes are high for the main character. When the reader sees this title, it immediately conjures up ideas about what might be dangerous and what might the game entail. Connell created a successful and descriptive way to entice readers to enter Rainsford's and Zaroff's world of terror and intensity.

Point of View

Connell chose to use a third-person limited point of view in this story. The reader only experiences Rainsford's thoughts and feelings about his situation, which adds to the suspense of the story. Readers are able to connect with Rainsford because they feel his fear and see him questioning Zaroff's motives and intentions which are unknown to both Rainsford and the reader. By choosing this type of narrator, Connell allows the reader to enter only the parts of the story that Rainsford enters, which heightens the intensity.


Rainsford and Zaroff
Zaroff and Rainsford

The two main characters in this story are unique and create much of the excitement of this story.

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