Compare and contrast the two main characters of "The Most Dangerous Game".    

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Richard Connel's short story "The Most Dangerous Game" features a protagonist, Sanger Rainsford, a big game hunter from New York City, and an antagonist, General Zaroff, a Cossack military man who has fled Russia after the revolution. They share a similar passion. Each is adept at big game hunting. When Rainsford accidentally falls off his yacht on the way to South America to hunt jaguars he comes ashore at Zaroff's island. The general lives with his servant, Ivan, in a large palatial chateau with all the "amenities of civilization." The men are similar in their affinity for hunting, yet are very different in their assessments of the value of human life. 

When Rainsford first meets Zaroff the general recognizes his guest because he has read Rainsford's book on "hunting snow leopards in Tibet." While Rainsford is a celebrated hunter, the general is a total fanatic for the hunt. Each of the men has pursued big game throughout the world, and they share their stories. In the beginning they also share the opinion that the game they hunt have no feelings and simply exist to bring pleasure to the hunter.

In the opening of the story, Rainsford explains his theory about the animals he hunts. When his friend Whitney suggests that their prey actually have feelings and suffer, Rainsford scoffs at the idea. He says,

"You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?...This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters."

Zaroff has much the same opinion, yet with an insane twist. Because Zaroff has become bored with hunting animals, he hunts men who have been shipwrecked on his island. He rationalizes his murderous pursuit to Rainsford:

"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."

When Zaroff suggests Rainsford hunt with him, the American refuses and the contrast between the characters becomes clear. Rainsford expresses his differences to the general:

"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder....Thank you, I'm a hunter, not a murderer."

In the last part of the story the tables are turned on Rainsford as he is hunted by the general, and the reader may assume that Rainsford eventually regrets his earlier observations about the hunted. He realizes what it is like to be a "beast at bay." 

The reader can label Rainsford as dynamic character because his ordeal has changed him and we feel relatively certain he will never hunt again after the episode on Zaroff's island. Zaroff, on the other hand, is static because he doesn't change. He feels no remorse in his sociopathic practice.

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