In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the figurative language in the title contribute to the plot of the story?
Figurative language refers to the use of figures of speech such as metaphors, similes, personification, etc. If Richard Connell's title "The Most Dangerous Game" is a metaphor, then one must ask what it represents or to what it is referring.
First of all, games shouldn't be dangerous; they should be fun. If the plot encompasses a dangerous game, then one might predict that the characters play a game that is not fun. Then, the superlative "most" suggests finality, which is exactly the point of Zaroff's game because it is played to the death.
On the other hand, there is another use of the word "game," and that has to do with hunting animals. Hunting as a sport changes the meaning of "game" in the title to something more serious--a quarry. In fact, the plot revolves around the fact that Rainsford becomes Zaroff's game (or quarry) to hunt. Zaroff explains to Rainsford why he had become bored hunting dumb animals as follows:
"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt . . . So I said: 'What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course: 'It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.'"
Based on Zaroff's definition of his ideal quarry, the title directly points to the plot because the act of hunting men for fun can claim both literal and figurative references to Zaroff and Rainsford engaging in a "most dangerous game."
The titles of stories are very intentional and they are meant to convey something insightful. In this case, it is no different.
The title, "The Most Dangerous Game" conveys several things.
First, it conveys something ominous, because it contains the word, "Dangerous." It shows that something precarious will take place.
Second, the odd combination of the word, "Game" with the word "Dangerous" shows that something perverse is going to take place. In other words, why would a game be dangerous? When the plot thickens, we see that this is the case, as Zarnoff seeks to hunt Rainsford.