What is the development of the theme in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

VIOLENCE AND CRUELTY.  This theme begins even before Rainsford falls overboard, since we know that he is a big-game hunter heading for his next hunt. The contrast between the cultured lifestyle Zaroff lives within his mansion and the barbaric activity he pursues outdoors makes the realization of his new type of prey even more frightening. When Rainsford refuses to join him in the hunt, Zaroff's choice to hunt him instead reduces Rainsford to the Cossack's own level.

MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN.  This theme is similar to the one above. While Zaroff leads the life of leisure in his palatial home, he imprisons shipwrecked sailors to serve as his human prey on his next hunt. Despite the isolated location, Zaroff has devised a plan to wreck passing ships on the rocks, then saving the survivors for his own personal pleasures. 

REVENGE.  Rainsford is reduced to the animal being pursued by the hunter when he refuses to go along with Zaroff on his next hunt. The fear and deprivations he suffers during his three-days of being pursued is strong enough for him to return for the ultimate payback in the end. Winning the game is not enough for him; turning the tables on Zaroff and making him feel what it is like to be hunted before killing him becomes his only goal.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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