What does Zaroff want to have or accomplish in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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General Zaroff is the antagonist in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," and he lives on an isolated island. He is a big-game hunter and has the trophies in his palatial house to prove it. Unfortunately, he has grown discontent with his life because none of the animals he hunts--and he has hunted them all--provide a challenge for him anymore. 

He reveals this to Sanger Rainsford, also a big-game hunter, who ends up at Zaroff's house because he fell off his ship and is now on the island with Zaroff. During dinner, Zaroff explains that all he has ever wanted to do is hunt, but he tells Rainsford

"hunting had ceased to be what you call 'a sporting proposition.' It had become too easy. I always got my quarry. Always. There is no greater bore than perfection.... No animal had a chance with me any more. That is no boast; it is a mathematical certainty. The animal had nothing but his legs and his instinct. Instinct is no match for reason. When I thought of this it was a tragic moment for me, I can tell you."

The general goes on to explain that he has invented a new quarry, a new prey, to hunt: humans. He has been hunting the sailors from the ships he has lured into the rocks of the island, but they are beginning to bore him, as well. 

As soon as Rainsford introduced himself, Zaroff knew who he was, and now the general wants the challenge of hunting a world-class hunter.

"Tonight," said the general, "we will hunt--you and I."

And he does not mean hunt something together; Zaroff intends to hunt Rainsford. That is what he wants, and that is what he gets, but only because he gives Rainsford virtually no choice. 

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