Comparative essay on "The Most Dangerous Game" and "Hunters in the Snow" and determine which is literary and which is commercial story.

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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First you have to determine your working definitions of literary and commercial.  Generally speaking, most people refer to commercial stories as those that are marketed to a wide group of people.  These stories will have a swift-moving plot, suspense, plot twists, and plenty of action.  Literary stories are consumed by a smaller group of readers who may have a specific interest in the author or in the technique of the story.  These stories, therefore, focus on technique, style, diction, syntax, and other figurative elements to tell the story.  The story may be less plot driven, focus more on character or explore more complex themes and ideas.

Both of the stories you mention deal with the archetypal theme of the hunt, or quest, and with the concept of the human will to survive.  However, they vary in their purpose and appeal to readers.

"The Most Dangerous Game" clearly has plenty of suspense, action and conflict.  What seems to be a lucky rescue from a destroyed boat turns in to a game of survival.  The audience cheers on Rainsford as he ultimately outwits his worthy stalker.  The characters, however, are not deeply developed, and the theme does not move beyond the concept of the hunt and the fight for survival.

"Hunters in the Snow" begins as a three-man outing for deer.  However, deer are never actually shot; instead one of the three is, but the journey here is more psychological than physical.  The will to survive is, for two of the men, more mental. The plot moves much more slowly, focusing on aspects of character such as infidelity, bullying and the struggle with obesity and confidence. 

While a variety of readers will enjoy the thrill of Rainsford's survival, few will actually identify with him.  On the contrary, many readers will identify with the wider concepts mentioned from "Hunters in the Snow."

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