The Most Dangerous Game Setting

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  • 0:04 The Most Dangerous Game
  • 0:38 Night
  • 1:27 Ship Trap Island
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joe Ricker

Joe has a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

This lesson presents the details of setting in Richard Connell's short story ''The Most Dangerous Game,'' a short story deals with a mighty hunter who becomes the one being hunted at night while he is on a mysterious island in the Caribbean.

''The Most Dangerous Game''

Published in 1924 also under the title ''The Hounds of Zaroff,'' ''The Most Dangerous Game'' is a short story written by Richard Connell. Taking place shortly after World War I, it is about Sanger Rainsford, a world-renowned hunter of big game, and his adventure on Ship-Trap Island. Ship Trap-Island is a mysterious island in the Caribbean owned by General Zaroff. General Zaroff, who is a Russian aristocrat, proves to be a bizarre host. The story takes place over the course of several nights, where Rainsford eludes the general whose most dangerous game proves to be Rainsford himself.


The bulk of ''The Most Dangerous Game'' takes place at night. Obviously, some things happen during the day, but it is in the hours of darkness where Connell focuses his story. The inability to see well in the dark and the natural feeling of vulnerability at night helps create tension. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford refers to the moonless Caribbean night as ''moist black velvet.''

The story is set after World War I, and references are made to indicate this. While Rainsford is being hunted near Death Swamp, he digs a trench. ''Rainsford had dug himself in in France when a second's delay meant death.'' Another reference, this time made by General Zaroff, also signals the story takes place sometime after World War I. ''After the debacle in Russia, I left the country, for it was imprudent for an officer of the Czar to stay there.''

Ship-Trap Island

The physical place where a story occurs is a crucial element to the setting. This story opens with Rainsford on a yacht heading toward the Amazon to hunt jaguars. The yacht is passing an area called Ship-Trap Island that Rainsford is told is very mysterious. The island makes the other members of the crew uneasy, and many sailors have heard various rumors regarding this strange place. Because it's so dark, Rainsford can barely see the island from the ship despite their close proximity to it. Later in the night, Rainsford accidentally falls overboard, and the yacht continues without him. Although it's pitch black, he luckily makes it to shore being guided by what he believes is some kind of an animal screaming and a gunshot.

On the island, Rainsford is quartered at General Zaroff's chateau - a luxurious home on the island where the general and his companion Ivan live. The comforts there are extravagant. Rainsford is accommodated with a room in one of the towers of the chateau where the ''pajamas were of the softest silk.''

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