In "The Most Dangerous Game," by Richard Connell, Zaroff’s façade portrays a cultured man who observes the social amenities, but his ideas about life and death can be summed up in a few simple words egocentric, sadistic, and sociopathic. In a single conversation he can casually discuss the quality of the champagne he serves as he begins setting the groundwork for his next “hunt.” In his earlier life, he hunted large animals simply for the thrill of killing them and putting them on display as is indicated when Rainsford says, “You have some wonderful heads here.” And yet, for Zaroff, they no longer hold appeal. Consequently, he has devised his plan for keeping himself entertained with no compunction for social or moral conventions. What most of society would consider horrific, Zaroff expresses with pride and says, “I think I may say, in all modesty, that I have done a rare thing. I have invented a new sensation,” as if his game is of no major consequence. When his quarry does not live up to his expectations Zaroff puts and “Last night I detected traces of my old complaint…ennui. Boredom.” Boredom—that’s his motivation for forcing Rainsford to join in the hunt. Zaroff doesn’t even play fair in this most demented of all games; he stacks the deck against the contenders essentially sealing their fate from the beginning. He sends them out with no weapons but that of their own intelligence. Meanwhile, he has guns, knives, dogs, and Ivan. Clearly, Zaroff has no conscience as he pursues this “most dangerous game” for his own amusement.
Holt Elements of Literature-third course