How are General Zaroff and Rainsford alike and different in the story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff are both accomplished hunters, who enjoy big-game hunting and share similar views regarding their sport as well as their place in the world. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford tells Whitney that the world is made up of two classes, which are the "hunters...

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Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff are both accomplished hunters, who enjoy big-game hunting and share similar views regarding their sport as well as their place in the world. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford tells Whitney that the world is made up of two classes, which are the "hunters and the huntees." Rainsford's belief in his inalienable right to exercise his strength over weaker beings is similar to Zaroff's perspective. Zaroff mentions,

"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." (Connell, 8)

In addition to their similar perspectives regarding hunting and exercising their will over others, Rainsford and Zaroff are both competitive, intelligent individuals. Rainsford demonstrates his intelligence and determination by cleverly fashioning traps to slow down Zaroff during the most dangerous game. Zaroff displays his intelligence by being well-read and having the ability to speak multiple languages. Both men are also wealthy, cultured individuals, who have traveled throughout the world hunting big game.

Despite their many similarities, Rainsford and Zaroff subscribe to a different set of morals and have different goals in life. Rainsford is a civilized, rational man who values human life, while Zaroff is a maniacal murderer who enjoys hunting defenseless humans. While Rainsford has an affinity for hunting, he is not obsessed with the sport like General Zaroff. Zaroff views hunting as a religious ritual and cannot live without it. Zaroff is also a powerful man who is completely in charge of Ship-Trap Island, while Rainsford is simply another vulnerable guest on the island. Rainsford is also desperate to survive, while the general has fun during the most dangerous game.

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Let's start with the similarities. 

First, General Zaroff and Rainsford are hunters. They both love the hunt, and both men are accomplished veterans. We can say that hunting runs in their veins. We see this even in the beginning of the story when Rainsford says to his friend, Whitney, that there are only two classes in the world - the hunted and the huntee.

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?"

Second, both Rainsford and the general are cultured men. Even the ability to hunt presupposes a certain amount of wealth. Moreover, Rainsford, in his interaction with the general, can appreciate his worldly sophistication. In other words, it takes a sophisticated man to appreciate it in another. 

Now for the differences. 

Zaroff takes hunting to a new level, which is unimaginable to Rainsford. Zaroff even boast of creating a new animal by which he means humans. When Rainsford finds out about this, he is disgusted and wants to leave the island immediately. From this we can say that Zaroff is mad (as in crazy). He takes his love for hunting to a perverted degree. Rainsford does not. From this perspective, they are different men. 

Here is a dialogue that shows the difference between the two men:

"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. "So I said, `What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course, `It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason."

"But no animal can reason," objected Rainsford."

"My dear fellow," said the general, "there is one that can."

"But you can't mean--" gasped Rainsford."

"And why not?"

"I can't believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke."

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