silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell
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What are ten characteristics of General Zaroff?

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When Rainsford arrives at the home of Zaroff, the narrator begins with a physical description.

Zaroff's looks are striking. He has bright white hair and black eyes, eyebrows, and mustache.

The general is obviously quite wealthy . The chateau, the hand-tailored clothes from London, and the furnishings in his...

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When Rainsford arrives at the home of Zaroff, the narrator begins with a physical description.

Zaroff's looks are striking. He has bright white hair and black eyes, eyebrows, and mustache.

The general is obviously quite wealthy. The chateau, the hand-tailored clothes from London, and the furnishings in his home all reflect luxury.

Rainsford's host is commanding. He insists that Rainsford follow Ivan to the house and change into the clothes he provides.

General Zaroff is self-aware. He identifies himself and Ivan as Cossacks, remarking that they are a bit "savage."

General Zaroff is elegant. He is tall and slender with erect posture and is wearing evening clothes when Rainsford arrives, even though his house is in the middle of nowhere and he has no other guests.

Zaroff is presumptuous. He tells Rainsford "you want food, clothes, rest." He doesn't ask; he tells.

Worldliness is another of the general's traits. He has a "cultivated" voice and imported goods from all over the world. He is well-travelled and reads in three languages.

Zaroff is monomaniacal. His obsession is hunting.

He is remorseless. He speaks of killing all kinds of animals and his desire to experience the danger and challenges of hunting men without apology.

And finally, General Zaroff is a racist. He tells Rainsford "I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships—lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels[...]."

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1. General Zaroff is a sophisticated man with a refined taste in literature, music, and wine.

2. General Zaroff is a fanatic, who is obsessed with hunting.

3. General Zaroff is a maniacal man who murderers innocent, defenseless humans on his island.

4. The general is a talented, skilled hunter.

5. Zaroff is a cultured man, who has traveled all over the world and enjoys the finer things in life.

6. General Zaroff is a callous man with no regard for human life . . . which is evident in the fact that he hunts humans.

7. Zaroff is also a competitive man and looks forward to competing against Rainsford in the hunt.

8. General Zaroff is violent and takes pleasure in murdering defenseless humans.

9. Zaroff is also intelligent and mentions to Rainsford that he has read all of his books and is capable of speaking different languages.

10. General Zaroff is also a composed, stoic individual. He seems to control his outward emotions throughout the short story.

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General Zaroff, the antagonist in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," should be considered a "static" character because he never changes over the course of the story. He is, however, a "round" character because he has several distinguishing characteristics:

  • astute: Zaroff is quite capable of accurately assessing people and situations. When he is dining with Rainsford he seems to be sizing up his guest.
  • narcissistic: Zaroff has an obsessive interest in himself as judged by his conversation where he basically discusses his life and his passion for hunting.
  • sociopathic: Zaroff has a mental disorder which is displayed in his anti-social behavior and lack of conscience. He finds it perfectly just that he is able to hunt men.
  • shrewd: When Zaroff escaped Russia after the revolution he was smart enough to invest in American securities so he could sustain his lavish lifestyle.
  • educated: Zaroff is well-read with a large library including every book on hunting, and he is portrayed as reading the works of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius toward the end of the story.
  • cosmopolitan: Rainsford notes that Zaroff was a "cosmopolite" because he was quite sophisticated in his clothes, from the finest tailor in London, and in the fine furnishings of his chateau, procured from all over the world. 
  • skilled: Zaroff has grown to be a skilled hunter, so much so that animals posed no challenge and so he began hunting men. He seems to easily track Rainsford over the most difficult of trails.
  • barbaric: In his diabolical practice of hunting down men, Zaroff is truly a barbarian. It is ironic that such a cultured and educated man would resort to such barbarism.
  • godlike: Zaroff holds the power of life and death over the men he hunts and so has become like a god.
  • passionate: Above all, Zaroff is passionate about his hunting. He could not abide his growing boredom with the sport, so he went to great lengths to produce a new type of hunting.
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