In Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," what are General Zaroff's goals and ambitions? What is he trying to accomplish?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Zaroff wants to dominate, wants to control. He comes from a wealthy, privileged background, so he's used to getting what he wants in life and feeling superior to those around him. He lacks a true sense of humanity, seeing other people as little more than objects to be controlled and manipulated for his own pleasure. Although Zaroff seems to have all his material needs catered for, he lacks any kind of spiritual life. As such, he gets bored easily and so devises what for him is an exciting game: the hunting of human quarry.

Even a rich, powerful man like Zaroff can't control the world. So, he builds his own little kingdom on Ship-Trap Island. Here he is lord of his own domain, the undisputed master of all he surveys. And his word is law; he holds the power of life and death over everyone who ever sets foot upon the island. Zaroff's law is the law of the jungle—in which he is the dominant animal. This is the summit of his ambition. On Ship-Trap Island Zaroff can feel what it's like to be one of nature's most dangerous predators. 

tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

General Zaroff's main goal in life is to be entertained through the experience of hunting. Here's a man who has money to burn and nothing to hunt that challenges his mental and physical skills. Zaroff explains his ideal prey like this: "it must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason." Of course, the only animal able to reason on earth is a human, so Rainsford picks up on the clues pretty quickly that Zaroff hunts humans. Zaroff's philosophy on life can be summed up when he says, "Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if need be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure." General Zaroff, then, is fulfilling his naturally-given potential to exercise his strength and to prey upon the weak. Weak things, creatures, and people of the world mean nothing to him. He feels justified, because of his physical, mental and financial strength, that he can do whatever he wants to do in order to live a pleasurable life.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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