How can someone compare and contrast "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Lottery"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Lottery” are short stories about what happens when society’s rules stop being followed and we no longer stop caring about human beings. 

That is pretty much where the similarity ends.  In “The Most Dangerous Game” we learn about a man who has created a game where he hunts human beings, because he got bored with hunting animal prey.  To him, humans are no longer humans.  They are just animals.  He explains his philosophy to Rainsford, a fellow hunter who is unfortunate enough to end up on his island.

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.

We do not know the philosophy behind the “The Lottery” originally, but we do know that now the people of the village follow it because tradition is more important to them than human life.  Tradition is so important to these people that they won’t even change the box used for the lottery as it falls apart.

Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box.

The people of the village do not complain about the barbaric ritual of stoning someone to death just because he or she was unlucky enough to be chosen by lottery, because it is tradition.  Tradition is more important to them than a person.

Although these two stories are different in most other ways, what they have in common is that both of them use suspense and shock value to get that one point across—that in each case a person, or a society, has taken things into his or their own hands and placed no value on human life.  It reminds us that people are valuable, and we cannot allow these things to stand.  In “The Most Dangerous Game,” Rainsford stands up to Zaroff.  Sadly, no one is able to do so in “The Lottery.”

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both short stories explore the same themes concerning the value of human life, violence, and the complexity of human nature. In Jackson's "The Lottery," the villagers are initially depicted as organized, polite citizens, who partake in a traditional community ritual. However, the reader discovers the brutal nature of the lottery when Tessie Hutchinson is mercilessly stoned to death by her fellow community members. The fact that the citizens are depicted as both civil and barbaric highlights the theme examining the complexity of human nature. Similarly, General Zaroff is portrayed as both civil and savage throughout the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." While General Zaroff is a proponent of the arts and enjoys living a luxurious life, he is also depicted as a ruthless murderer. Essentially, both authors juxtapose civility and barbarism throughout both short stories.

Both short stories also explore the themes of violence and the value of human life. Throughout "The Lottery," Jackson depicts the villagers' lack of empathy and neglect for human life by barbarically stoning an innocent citizen each year. The violent nature of the lottery is especially disturbing and emphasizes how the citizens perceive the value of human life. Similarly, General Zaroff displays his insensitive nature by ruthlessly murdering individuals trapped on his island. General Zaroff clearly does not value human life and shows no sympathy for murdering the unfortunate individuals that he is hunting.

Apart from these minor similarities, both stories are remarkably different in setting and plot. Jackson's "The Lottery" is about a community's barbaric tradition of sacrificing a random citizen each year, who is stoned to death by the community. Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is about a fanatical hunter, who kills humans on his remote island to satisfy his desire to experience a challenging hunt.