What themes does the author address in "The Most Dangerous Game?"

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the main theme (other than just the excitement of the story) is that of civilization -- what does it mean to be civilized?  Zaroff claims to be a very civilized man, but he hunts people.  Does that make him uncivilized?

I think a second important theme is that of revenge and what amount of revenge is morally defensible.  Was it morally okay for Rainsford to kill Zaroff at the end of the story?

A third theme is related to the first -- how does war affect people?  Both Zaroff and Rainsford have been in wars.  You can argue that Zaroff's experiences in the war are to blame for his behavior.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are a few others to consider:

  • Survival of the fittest - The most dangerous game is a game of wit and skill. The story ultimately demonstrates who had more.
  • The concept of the hunt - While Whitney and Rainsford are both still talking on the boat, they refer to the qualities of the quarry... and if a particular quarry has feelings. Then, the tables turned on Rainsford and he became the quarry. This could be a great theme to explore as we all feel like we're in both roles at various times in life. 

Hope that gives you a bit more to think about!