The title "The Most Dangerous Game" plays on the word "game." Write three to five sentences explaining this play on words.

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Connell cleverly uses a play on the word "game" in the title of his classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game."

The first meaning of the word "game" refers to a contest of some sort. After reading the title, the audience is led to believe that the story...

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Connell cleverly uses a play on the word "game" in the title of his classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game."

The first meaning of the word "game" refers to a contest of some sort. After reading the title, the audience is led to believe that the story is about a dangerous sport where opponents compete against each other. However, the reader discovers that General Zaroff's version of a game is a sadistic contest where he hunts defenseless humans throughout his private island. According to Zaroff's rules, if the person survives on the island for three consecutive days while he is hunting them, the person is allowed to leave.

The second meaning of the word "game" in the title refers to prey. In this case, Sanger Rainsford is considered the most dangerous prey. Similar to General Zaroff, Sanger Rainsford is an experienced hunter who is intelligent and resourceful. Unlike Zaroff's typical prey, Rainsford is talented enough to avoid him and builds deadly traps that threaten his life. Rainsford's skills and knowledge make him an extremely dangerous competitor, who successfully wins the most dangerous game by surviving the harrowing three days and killing the general in hand-to-hand combat at the end of the story. Overall, Connell's title utilizes a play on the word "game," which refers to a deadly competition and dangerous prey.

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The two meanings of the word game are ironic, considering how the two meanings are almost oppositional in the context of "The Most Dangerous Game."

When first encountering the title, one might assume the word "game" is being used to mean a contest. Indeed, the story does provide a contest in the conflict between Rainsford and Zaroff. The word game in this context also suggests power and activity, two equal forces facing off against one another.

However, the other meaning of the term game, as in hunted prey, reveals the dark underbelly of the story. The prey of the titles, as both Rainsford and the reader quickly discover, refers to human beings. Zaroff has hunted down all other big game animals with ease, so he resorts to hunting humans to recapture the lost thrill of the chase. He feels humans are the most dangerous game because they can reason with more sophistication than other animals. At the same time, he is dehumanizing other people by putting himself above them as the hunter.

Thus, the term becomes associated with powerlessness and dehumanization just as much as it suggests an exciting contest. Rainsford is both an active hero and a potential victim, powerful and vulnerable all at once.

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Already established in the other responses to this question are the differences between using the word "game" when referring to a contest and using the word "game" when referring to something or someone hunted, as when a predator goes in search of prey.

This play on words has literary power when considering the juxtaposition of the two separate meanings of the words within the title of the short story. When someone suggests playing a game, often the game involves the innocent and pleasurable passing of time for the participants. Add the notion of danger to the game, and the meaning of this pastime changes from something innocent to something potentially harmful. Add the notion of prey, and the pastime no longer has anything to do with pleasure for at least one of the participants involved in the game.

Because juxtaposition involves the placement of two contrasting things next to one another for dramatic effect, it can be an effective, attention-grabbing method of hooking a reader. By placing the thought of a pleasurable pastime next to the thought of violence and death, Richard Connell inspires curiosity within potential readers at the earliest moments of their reading experience, just as they engage with the title of the short story.

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A game is something that you play or compete in.  You can play a board game, a sports game, and/or a video game.  It's a contest of sorts, and that is one of the ways that the author uses the word "game" in this story.  In a way, Rainsford and Zaroff are playing a game; however, their game is a rather sadistic and twisted game.  Like most games, there will be a winner and a loser between Rainsford and Zaroff.  In this case, the winner gets to live and the loser dies.  

The other meaning of the word "game" is how a hunter would use the word.  A hunter hunts game.  In this use, the word game is synonymous with "prey."  In the game that Zaroff is playing, Rainsford is Zaroff's game.  

What's a great twist on the title is that the reader can assume the most dangerous game is the game that both men are playing because either could wind up dead.  But the title of the story also means that the most dangerous game is always the prey being hunted, which is exactly what Zaroff learns right before he dies. 

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Author Richard Connell does create a clever play on words in the double-meaning title of "The Most Dangerous Game." In one sense, the hunting of human beings is a new type of game--a contest--pitting the wily General Zaroff against a human prey. For Zaroff, it is a more challenging sport since the hunting of animals has become boring to him, no longer a challenge. This game is an exciting one, and the chance to stalk a renowned hunter such as Rainsford makes it irresistible to him. In another context, the game is the prey--the hunted. Zaroff has already killed every known big game available to him, but man is a different type of victim: The human quarry can think, reason, and feel the fear of death, and he presents a greater danger and the remote possibility of actually turning the tables on the hunter--as Rainsford does in the end. 

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