Figurative Language In The Most Dangerous Game
What are some examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game?"
Foreshadowing is a literary device, which gives the reader a hint about what will happen later on in the story. Connell foreshadows Rainsford's subsequent captivity on the island through Whitney's ominous comments regarding the island at beginning of the story. Whitney tells Rainsford,
"The old charts call it`Ship-Trap Island'...A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--" (Connell, 1).
The name and description of the island foreshadow Rainsford's upcoming battle for survival. The reader realizes that something is not quite right with the island and can surmise that it will serve a specific purpose throughout the story.
Personification is when human characteristics are attributed to ideas, animals, and inanimate objects. Throughout the short story, there are several examples of Connell's use of personification. Connell personifies the night by writing, "trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht" (1). The night cannot 'press' its blackness on anything. Again, Connell utilizes personification by writing, "giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws" (9).
A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things using the words "like" or "as." Connell utilizes similes throughout the short story by writing, "The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window" (2). Another example of a simile is when Connell writes, "Rainsford's impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther..." (12)
Figurative language is essentially comparison; the idea is to give the reader a better grasp on something by giving it a common point of reference. Comparing a woman to a summer's day, for example. In "The Most Dangerous Game," there are small examples of figurative language, but Richard Connell keeps mostly to a clear and simple prose. When Rainsford comments on the very dark, moonless night:
"Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."
...like trying to see through a blanket.
Another couple of examples come from Zaroff; he is a hard, violent man, but is also of very refined tastes and considers himself a superior gentleman. Here is Zaroff's comment on what he feels is Rainsford's old-fashioned views:
"It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine."
Here is his comment on the sharp rocks that destroy ships which fall into the channel:
"...giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," classicreader.com)
Here, the violence of his last simile shows how little he cares about human life, and how he believes his actions to be moral based on his personal philosophies. However, the story doesn't need to rely on figurative language to be engaging; the plot itself, plus the straightforward description of Rainsford's inner thoughts, give the story suspense without excess prose.