What are the examples of characterization in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

General Zaroff is characterized as selfish and deviant, and Rainsford is characterized as clever and self-sufficient.

Characterization is how an author develops a character’s traits, either directly or indirectly.

In “The Most Dangerous Game,” a man named Rainsford accidentally lands on an island to discover that a man named General Zaroff has been using it to hunt men.  Zaroff is characterized as selfish and deviant (meaning what he does is not acceptable by society).  An example of this characterization in the story is how General Zaroff does not consider himself a murderer.  When Zaroff says what he is doing is murder, he laughs at Rainsford.

The general laughed with entire good nature. He regarded Rainsford quizzically. "I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life. Surely your experiences in the war--"

This characterizes General Zaroff because it shows that he considers ideas of human decency and civilization, like not killing people, quaint and old-fashioned.  He considers himself superior because he is the one with the money and the island.  He has the power, and the men he is hunting do not.  It is survival of the fittest, and he is the one who has survived so far. 

Rainsford is characterized as clever and adaptable.  We see this in how he responds to this unusual situation he finds himself in.

"You've done well, Rainsford," the voice of the general called. "Your Burmese tiger pit has claimed one of my best dogs. Again you score …”

Rainsford does not lose his nerve, and repeatedly outsmarts Zaroff. He builds the Malay mancatcher and the Burmese tiger pit, and he evades capture and hunt.  He proves that he can not only survive as a hunter, but also as prey.  This shows that Rainsford is smart, and strong.

Throughout the story, both Rainsford and Zaroff are well developed.  We know them well, and can predict what they will do.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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