Is General Zaroff, from The Most Dangerous Game, a sociopath?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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To answer this question, one must first understand what the technical definition of a sociopath is.

According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (used by physicians to define mental disorders)), a sociopath is also known as one who is named as having Antisocial Personality Disorder (or ASPD). Characteristics associated with ASPD are:

-longstanding pattern disregarding the rights of others

-reduced ability to feel empathy

-failure to conform and to the expectations and norms as defined by society

-lack of remorse for wrongdoing

-failure to consider consequences for actions


Based upon these characteristics, one could easily consider that General Zaroff, from Richard Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game, is a sociopath. Zaroff disregards the rights of others by forcing them to take part in his games. He also feels no sympathy for those who he forces to play. Society would surely not accept or condone his hunting of humans, and he, therefore, cannot conform to society's ideas based upon hunting rights. Zaroff has no feelings of remorse or that he has (or is) doing anything wrong (based upon the fact that he continues to hunt humans).

The only two characteristics which Zaroff does not possess are impulsiveness and failure to consider consequences for his actions. Zaroff is not compulsive. His entire island as been thought out and planned completely. As for the consequences, it is his pride that keeps Zaroff from accepting the consequences. His success to this point (meeting Rainsford) has allowed him to become confidant that he will not be caught or punished.


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