silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell
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What are examples of metaphor, simile, foreshadowing, and personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Like most pieces of literature, Richard Connell's tale of adventure, "The Most Dangerous Game," contains elements of foreshadowing and figures of speech such as metaphor, simile and personification. There are three good examples of foreshadowing in the beginning of the story. Foreshadowing is when there are hints and clues about what will happen later in a story. First, the fact that the island which the yacht passes seems to have a sinister reputation and is labeled "Ship-Trap Island" foreshadows the fact that the owner of the island is sociopathic murderer who hunts men. Second, the discussion between Rainsford and Whitney on board the yacht over whether animals feel fear and pain foreshadows Rainsford's later experience on the island when he is a "beast at bay." Third, the pistol shot which causes Rainsford to fall off the yacht foreshadows the future hunt between Rainsford and Zaroff.

Metaphors abound in the text of the story. A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things. One of the most important metaphors which reoccurs is Rainsford and Zaroff being compared to various types of animals. The hunting of men is also compared to a "game" by Zaroff. The following metaphors are in order as they appear in the story:

  • "Outdoor chess!" Zaroff compares the future hunt of Rainsford to the board game which requires mental skill. 
  • "He was in a picture with a frame of water, and his operations, clearly, must take place within that frame." The island is compared to a picture within a frame.
  • "I have played the fox, now I must play the cat of the fable."
  • "Even so zealous a hunter as General Zaroff could not trace him there, he told himself; only the devil himself could follow that complicated trail through the jungle after dark." Rainsford compares Zaroff to the devil. A fitting comparison because Zaroff does indeed track down Rainsford.
  • "The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse."
  • "Following the trail with the sureness of a bloodhound came General Zaroff."
  • "Even as he touched it, the general sensed his danger and leaped back with the agility of an ape."

Connell also employs several similes in the weaving of his story. A simile uses like or as to make a comparison between two unlike things or ideas. Again, these are in the order they appear in the text:

  • "The revolver pointed as rigidly as if the giant were a statue."
  • "'They indicate a channel,' he said, 'where there's none: giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws.'"
  • "He flattened himself down on the limb, and through a screen of leaves almost as thick as a tapestry, he watched."
  • "Rainsford's impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther, but he saw the general's right hand held something metallic—a small automatic pistol."
  • "Rainsford did not want to believe what his reason told him was true, but the truth was as evident as the sun that had now pushed through the morning mists."
  • "He tried to wrench it back, but the muck sucked viciously at his foot as if it were a giant leech."

Personification is when human qualities are given to a non-human subject:

  • "The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him."
  • "...on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows."
  • "An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake." Not only does this sentence contain personification, it also has a simile.
  • "Across a cove he could see the gloomy gray stone of the chateau."
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