Describe General Zaroff's physical appearance & personality in "The Most Dangerous Game."

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator describes Zaroff's physical appearance when Rainsford first sees the general descend the marble stairs of his extravagant chateau. General Zaroff is depicted as a tall, slender, middle-aged man with white hair. The narrator mentions that Zaroff is "singularly handsome" with a "bizarre quality" about his face. General Zaroff has dark eyes with thick eyebrows, high cheekbones, a sharpcut nose, and a black mustache. Rainsford also believes that the general resembles an aristocrat. As Rainsford and General Zaroff begin to eat their meal, Zaroff slowly reveals his affinity for hunting humans, which is appalling to Rainsford. Although Zaroff is a talented, fanatical hunter, he also enjoys the finer things in life. He is an avid reader, a collector of fine wines, and he enjoys many modern amenities throughout his exclusive chateau on Ship-Trap Island. He is also relatively hospitable and courteous to Rainsford, despite the fact that he plans on hunting him. Zaroff sees himself as a Renaissance man who does not harbor "romantic ideas about the value of human life." Underneath General Zaroff's air of civility and cultured personality, he is a fanatical, malevolent murderer who enjoys hunting defenseless humans.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although we know little about Sanger Rainsford's physical appearance, we do know that General Zaroff

was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as night...

Rainsford describes Zaroff as "singularly handsome" with a "bizarre quality" to his face. His eyes were also black, and he presented an "aristocratic" bearing with his 

high cheekbones, a sharpcut nose, a spare, dark face...

When Zaroff smiled, he bore red lips and "pointed" teeth that often included a long, perfumed cigarette. We can assume that Zaroff and Rainsford were about the same size, since Zaroff provided him with clothing (" 'my clothes,' " Zaroff says) that proved to be a satisfactory fit.

(No doubt the gigantic Ivan was much larger than either of the other men; he was "the largest man" Rainsford had ever seen.)

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Zaroff's personality, I believe, can best be described as calculating. Although a highly civilized man who has all the best pleasures of the world in food and drink, it took him no time to begin sizing up Rainsford as if Rainsford were a common simple animal. Zaroff would also demonstrate a sense of equity to his prey giving them good clothes, a set of rules, and the opportunity for a good night's rest before he played the most dangerous game with them.

Zaroff is a General, thus I think you could imagine the military clean cut features of a man. He is shorter than Rainsford and is Russian. A white man, he is often depicted in literature anthologies with a handlebar-type mustache. I see him smoking a long cigarette and alway appearing in beautiful fabrics and expensive clothes, except on the hunt.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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