Rainsford & Zaroff: Compare & Contrast

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  • 0:04 Rainsford vs Zaroff
  • 0:39 Attitudes for the Hunted
  • 1:15 Limits
  • 1:59 Backgrounds
  • 2:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

In 'The Most Dangerous Game', Rainsford and Zaroff are pitted against one another. However, as this lesson shows, there are actually a surprising number of similarities between the two.

Rainsford vs. Zaroff

In Richard Connel's story The Most Dangerous Game, General Zaroff is a man who hunts human for sport. Rainsford is the latest prey for Zaroff's game. For three days, Rainsford will be hunted by Zaroff, and if he survives, he can leave the island. Otherwise, Zaroff gets to claim having killed him. However, the author does not set the two up as diametric opposites. Instead, the two hunters seem to have more complementary attributes than initially meets the eye. In this lesson, we will compare Zaroff and Rainsford, looking at their attitudes about their quarry, the limits they would go in securing the hunt, and how their backgrounds shaped them.

Attitudes for the Hunted

Somewhat paradoxically, Zaroff seems to have a much better attitude about that which he hunts than Rainsford does. Before he falls overboard, Rainsford comments to a friend that perhaps the friend is turning soft by showing a degree of compassion for the hunted creature. After all, he tells us, there are only two categories on Earth, the hunter and the hunted. Rainsford views his quarry as simply there, awaiting his well-aimed shot. Meanwhile, Zaroff has a much greater respect for that which he hunts. He feeds the shipwrecked sailors and nurses them back to health, even making deals with them that, by all that we can assume, Zaroff is willing to fulfill.

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