Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

General Zaroff, the antagonist in Richard Connel's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," is most assuredly criminally insane. After all, the general hunts men. He must be considered one of the most diabolical characters in all of literature. He has taken his obsession with hunting and bloodshed to a point that is beyond even the most brutal of men. It's no surprise that he lives on a remote island away from the laws and morality of civilization. 

What makes Zaroff even more hideous is that he considers himself exceptional in every way and culturally above others. When Rainsford first meets Zaroff, the general calls his servant Ivan, a "savage" and has even less regard for the men he hunts. Zaroff explains, 

"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift?. If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships-lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels-a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."

That Zaroff considers it a "gift" to be able to hunt down and kill men confirms his insanity. The fact that he lives in a palatial chateau, eats the finest food, drinks imported wine, and reads from the annals of Marcus Aurelius do not change the fact that he is sociopath. The reader should certainly cheer the ending when it is revealed that Rainsford will sleep in the "very excellent bed" and Zaroff will be "a repast for the hounds."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial