Do you believe the author of "The Most Dangerous Game" intended the story partly as an indictment of hunting or cruelty to animals?
There is a similarity between "The Most Dangerous Game" and the movie "The Deer Hunter." Before experiencing the horrors of the Vietnam War, the hero of "The Deer Hunter" played by Robert De Niro enjoys deer hunting for sport. After returning from Vietnam he goes hunting and has an opportunity to shoot a splendid buck but deliberately refrains from doing so. He has learned to understand what it feels like to be hunted.
Early in "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford asks Whitney, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?....They've no understanding." Presumably the author intended to illustrate how Rainsford would have a different attitude about hunting animals after he had gone through the experience of being hunted himself.
I think the main intention is for readers to start looking at their opponent's perspective. That is whenever you have a argument or conflict with someone, rather than just seeing it from your own side, take some time to consider how the conflict is making the other person feel. This aspect is far overlooked in an argument and is the reason why so often it is difficult to find any resolution to problems. If one would be able to get some idea of what it's like in the other person's shoes, it would be much more likely people could find a common ground. Rainsford lacked this ability to sympathasize with his opposition at first; however, he gained a new level of compassion after spending a few days as the prey.
There is plenty of TALK about hunting animals and even some evidence of it in this story; however, the only actual hunting that takes place in the tale is the hunting of humans. It is unlikely this story has anything to do with a reaction to hunting animals or animal cruelty; instead, hunting is the best allegory Connell could find to demonstrate man's inability to look beyond one's self and his willingness to selfishly inflict cruelty on others.
I think the story is more designed to get us to think about cruelty to each other. To a certain extent, it does lead to that slippery slope of the "what makes people better than animals" argument. However I consider this story more of a testament to what can happen when a person has no conscience, and does not assign any value to human life. In a way, it is the opposite of an animal rights argument. The story shows that humans deserve more consideration than animals.
I highly doubt it.
First of all, Connell is not writing at a time when there is any real attention being paid to the issue of animal rights. This makes it unlikely that he is trying to do this.
Second, the point of the story is to explore how a person reacts to pressure, the possibility of death and then (later) the temptations of revenge and power. This is a story about what is going on inside Rainsford's head, not about the ethics of killing animals.
It is doubtful that Richard Connell considered his narrative as an expose for the mistreatment of animals since, while there are references to shooting animals, very little of the plot centers upon hunting this big game. Rather, the mention of big game hunting by Rainsford and his friend, and then later by General Zaroff serve as metaphors for the "dangerous game" in which the general as predator and Rainsford as prey engage. Of course, Rainsford's observation that he now knows what it feels like to be prey is ironic as in the exposition of the short story, he has demonstrated no sympathy for the prey that he was soon to hunt.l
In "The Most Dangerous Game," the similarity between the animals and the men becomes astoundingly apparent to both characters, but especially to Rainsford, who has turned the conflict to one in which he, now, is the predator. For, he feels delight that he eliminates his adversary.