Foreshadowing in The Most Dangerous Game

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  • 0:03 Hints and Clues
  • 0:35 The Beginning of the End
  • 1:53 Into the Darkness and…
  • 2:50 The Final Clues
  • 3:45 Analysis
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Don't you hate it when you miss the obvious signs that connect to the ending of a story, but you only notice them after you've competed the book? In this lesson we will explore the literary device of foreshadowing in the short story, ''The Most Dangerous Game'' by Richard Connell and analyze the clues along the way.

Hints and Clues

We all like surprises, especially when it comes to plot twists in a story. As you read a book or a story, have you ever noticed hints or clues along the way that reference these shocking events? In literature, we call this foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is when an author gives us hints or clues as to what may occur later in a story.

Let's take a look at foreshadowing in the short story The Most Dangerous Game and analyze the moments where Richard Connell prepares us to learn about General Zaroff's deadly pasttime.

The Beginning of the End

The story opens with two accomplished hunters, Rainsford and Whitney, on a boat heading to Rio for a hunting expedition along the Amazon. Whitney tells Rainsford that they are close to a place called 'Ship-Trap Island.' The name alone sparks the attention of the reader, foreshadowing Rainsford's negative, and accidental, encounter with the island. Whitney goes on to tell Rainsford that the Captain and crew of the ship were jumpy today, terrified of the evil that lurks in that place. Rainsford does not appear afraid and labels their fears as superstition, but his disbelief again foreshadows his fateful encounter with the island.

The two men shift the topic of conversation to hunting, and Whitney makes a comment about how hunting is only enjoyable to the hunter, not the animal in question. Whitney bases this belief on the idea that animals feel fear of pain and death, but Rainsford disagrees and says animals have no understanding of reason. Rainsford goes on to say that, 'The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees.' He feels no sympathy for the animals because of his position as the hunter, which reveals Rainsford's lack of compassion for the animals he kills. This conversation foreshadows the conflict Rainsford will soon face as he becomes the huntee on 'Ship-Trap Island'.

Into the Darkness and Closer to Fate

After Whitney heads to bed, Rainsford hears gunshots in the distance and ends up falling into the water as he leans over the rail to observe. As he attempts to swim to shore in the darkness, he hears the screams of what he assumes is an animal being hunted but is unable to recognize which kind. These moments where Rainsford is trying to understand what he just heard foreshadows his fate. We later learn this scream is human, which foreshadows Rainsford's upcoming conflict with a hunter. He will become the huntee, and fight for his life, just as this person attempted to do.

The next morning, Rainsford awakes and walks the island. He notices an area where an animal had struggled in the brush. He also finds blood and a bullet shell. He begins to assess the situation by assuming how the hunter took down his prey, which also foreshadows his fate as the huntee, but Rainsford, nor the reader, has any idea that this prey is just like him.

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