Compare And Contrast Rainsford And Zaroff

Compare and contrast between Zaroff and Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game."

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handbooktoliterature eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rainsford and Zaroff share a few common traits, but as the story works toward its climax, they differ more and more.

In common, Rainsford and Zaroff both have an immense interest in the sport of hunting. Rainsford waxes poetically to his shipmate in the opening scenes about the skill and pleasure of the hunt. He shows excitement for his chance to go prove himself against a new query on the trip. In an obvious foreshadow, his shipmate ask him to consider how the jaguar (or animal being hunted) fells, and Rainsford laughs it off without empathy.

Zaroff also shows an extreme interest in hunting from the beginning. He is an expert and loves the hunt. Like Rainsford, he seems to have the wealth and time to partake in his hobby to an extreme degree. Not everyone could charter boats to exotic places to hunt a variety of game. 

The big difference between the men comes between PASSION and FANATICISM. Rainsford passion makes him devote much of his life to hunting and leads to his position in the story. However Zaroff's obsession is much more to the extreme end. He is so fanatical that he becomes less human in his sympathy and empathy for others. He no longer values life in any means because his "game" of hunting the toughest query overrides all else.

Rainsford, experiencing the side of the hunted gains sympathy for the animals he has tracked and killed in his past and sees an ugliness in the extremism Zaroff represents. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rainsford and General Zaroff are both talented, accomplished hunters in the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." Initially, both characters seem to share the same philosophy toward hunting. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford tells Whitney, "The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees" (Connell, 1). General Zaroff takes the same approach toward hunting but in a more fanatical, unsympathetic way. General Zaroff and Rainsford are both wealthy individuals who can afford to travel to exotic places and hunt big-game animals. Both characters also enjoy literature about hunting. When the two first meet, Zaroff tells Rainsford that he has read his book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, before elaborating on his extensive library of hunting literature.

Despite many of their similarities, General Zaroff and Rainsford have drastically different viewpoints concerning civilization and morality. While Rainsford finds it extremely troubling and horrific that General Zaroff hunts defenseless humans on his island, Zaroff dismisses Rainsford's concerns by calling him naive. Zaroff views himself as a modern, civilized man, while Rainsford views him as a murderer. Zaroff is also fanatical about hunting and cannot satiate his desire to be challenged in his field. In contrast, Rainsford enjoys hunting but has the ability to limit his desires.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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