What does Zaroff mean when he says, “There is no greater bore than perfection” in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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By this, General Zaroff means that once a person has mastered a skill, it is no longer interesting. For example, if one can always win at chess, playing the game no longer provides a challenge.

Zaroff is, however, alluding to big game hunting. He is an older man, and he confides to fellow hunter Rainsford that there is no animal left that it is a challenge for him to hunt—except one. Rainsford realizes to his horror that the only species Zaroff now enjoys hunting is human beings, because they have the gift of reason.

Zaroff is a portrait of a wealthy aristocrat of highly refined tastes who suffers from ennui or world-weariness. He doesn't need to work, and he can gratify every sensual desire. He thus finds himself casting around for new thrills so that he can feel alive. Unfortunately, he lacks a moral compass and thinks little of most human beings, so it is easy for him to hunt them in cold blood, as he once did his animal prey.

Zaroff believes he has his world orchestrated so that he can't lose. He reveals this when he talks about meeting Rainsford for a drink, if Rainsford survives the hunt in which he is an unwilling participant. However, Rainsford turns the tables by not only evading Zaroff but turning him into the prey that he then kills—perhaps releasing him from an empty life.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 15, 2020
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It's Zaroff's way of saying how much he likes a challenge. He's been such a successful hunter—perfect, no less—that his favorite activity has become a bit of a bore lately. The problem is that Zaroff is just too good a hunter, at least when it comes to killing dumb animals. To keep himself from getting rusty, he needs a new challenge, something that will rekindle his passion for hunting.

That's where using human quarry comes in. No matter how allegedly inferior, each man that Zaroff hunts will still present more of a challenge than even the most fearsome of wild beasts. Pursuing a human animal, an animal with the capacity for reason, will keep Zaroff on his toes, giving him the opportunity to exercise his hunting skills to the utmost. And this is precisely what Rainsford does; he presents the ultimate challenge for Zaroff.

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General Zaroff is a man who became a master hunter. He is so good at it that it's basically no challenge for him to go after traditional game animals, such as tigers or buffalo, even when he uses weapons less advanced than a high-powered rifle. Because he has mastered hunting, there is no longer any risk or difficulty in it for him and that is disappointing. So, when Zaroff says perfection is boring, he is talking about how hunting cannot make him break a sweat like it used to—that is, if he's hunting animals.

Zaroff now hunts human beings because they are the only other creature which offers him a true challenge. Because human beings can think and reason, they are harder to hunt down than even the smartest animals are.

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General Zaroff says that line to Rainsford during their dinner. This line also occurs before Zaroff admits that he now hunts humans. The two men are discussing hunting in general and what animals each man has successfully hunted. Zaroff admits that hunting had started to get stale for him. He had gotten good enough where he was successful every time. Knowing what the animal would do and being able to anticipate it took the fun out of hunting. Essentially, Zaroff had perfected his craft. There was nothing new to learn, and he couldn't advance his skills any farther; therefore, hunting bored him, and he needed a way to bring back his sport's unpredictable nature. His solution was to begin hunting humans because humans are a prey species that can reason and adapt in response to the hunter's actions.

"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. "So I said, 'What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course, 'It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.'"

"But no animal can reason," objected Rainsford.

"My dear fellow," said the general, "there is one that can."

"But you can't mean—" gasped Rainsford.

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During their first meal together, General Zaroff and Rainsford become acquainted, and Zaroff begins explaining to his guest his passion for hunting. General Zaroff elaborates on his numerous hunting expeditions and tells Rainsford that every animal he encounters is no match for human wit and reason. One night, the general says he was lying on his bed, and it occurred to him that hunting was beginning to bore him. General Zaroff then tells Rainsford that hunting was becoming a bore because he always got his quarry and considered any expedition too easy. General Zaroff then says, "There is no greater bore than perfection" (Connell, 7). Essentially, General Zaroff became so good at hunting that it no longer excited him. Hunting exotic animals did not challenge General Zaroff, which eventually gave him the idea to hunt humans. According to General Zaroff, humans have the ability to reason, which makes them the most dangerous "animal."

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