What are the similarities between General Zaroff and Sanger Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While not apparent at first, there are many similarities to the basic natures of Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff. Among the salient qualities that are similar, there are the following:

  • Both are expert hunters. They are knowledgeable of weapons, traps, and techniques in hunting.
  • Both enjoy being hunters, not the ones hunted. Zaroff says, "My whole life has been one prolonged hunt." Rainsford expresses to Whitney that he and Whitney are "luckily...hunters." He is not concerned about the feelings of his prey.
  • Both are men of courage and cunning. Because of his courage and cunning, Zaroff has chosen to hunt "the most dangerous game" because hunting "had ceased to be what you call 'a sporting proposition. It had become too easy."
  • Both are survivalists. Rainsford knows how to hide, set traps, and outthink his enemy. For instance, Rainsford dives into the sea, but returns to the chateau where he duels Zaroff and kills him.
  • Both are predatory. Zaroff has no qualms against killing men, and Rainsford is exigent and will shoot anyone or anything in his way to safety as long as his life is in danger. In the end, Rainsford kills Zaroff, refuting the protests his gives to Zaroff about hunting the most dangerous game at his first dinner.

   "Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."
   "Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters. Do you think we've passed that island yet?"
   "I can't tell in the dark. I hope so."

mathpie | Student

In "The Most Dangerous Game"  both the protagonist and antagonist were extrememly intelligent, have a passion towards hunting, similar opinions and beliefs, persistant, and manipulative.

General Zaroff and Rainsford are intelligent and manipulative as throughout the game, they were both able to keep up with each other with tactics. Furthermore, General Zaroff is intelligent enough to manipulate hunting to such a level. If Rainsford wasn't intelligent, he would have never survived and won the game, which involved adapting to the environment to become a prey rather than the hunter. 

Not to mention, both characters have similar beliefs in how the world is made up of the hunter and the hunted, in which the stronger wins; survival of the fittest. It wasn't until both the protagonist and antagonist are under the condition of being hunted that the true nature hunting is revealed.

Lastly, they both were persistant in fighting to the end. In this case, General Zaroff would not end this game unless one of them won and Rainsford would not give up and surrender to General Zaroff.

Read the study guide:
The Most Dangerous Game

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