Zaroff comes from an aristocratic Russian family, and he was brought up in a wealthy and privileged household. He never loses sight of this attitude even after he is forced to flee Russia following the fall of the czar. Despite his cultured upbringing, however, Zaroff admits that as a Cossack, he is
"... like all of his race, a bit of a savage."
Since Zaroff has lost the "thrill" of the hunt--animals no longer present "a sporting proposition"--resulting in "ennui" and "boredom," he has come up with another more dangerous game to hunt. He has no personal qualms about hunting human beings nor does he have a guilty conscience concerning the murderous aspects of his new hobby. Zaroff considers Rainsford attitude toward the new game as a "mid-Victorian point of view," whose "scruples are ill-founded."
"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--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."
"But they are men," said Rainsford hotly.
"Precisely," said the general. "That is why I use them. It gives me pleasure. They can reason, after a fashion. So they are dangerous."