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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What is a good thesis statement for a compare and contrast essay on Rainsford and Zaroff from the short story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff, from the short story "The Most Dangerous Game," are similar in their zeal for hunting, yet very different in how far they will go to indulge in their passion.

Rainsford has immersed himself in the world of big game hunting. After all, he has written books on the subject and when the reader first meets him he is on his way to hunt jaguars in South America. He is also initially unfeeling in his attitude toward the animals he hunts. He comments to his friend Whitney,

"You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"..."Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes, the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters."

Later, however, Rainsford's opinion of hunting is challenged when the tables are turned and he becomes the prey of the diabolical General Zaroff. He realizes what it's like to be a "beast at bay." Despite the fact he ultimately wins the "game" against Zaroff, the reader might assume he will never hunt again.

Zaroff is a homicidal sociopath. He has grown bored with hunting animals and, because he feels he is a superior human being, he hunts men on his remote island. He tells Rainsford the rationale for his brutal practice:

"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them." 

Zaroff will go to any means to indulge his lust for the blood sport. Zaroff offers to hunt with Rainsford but the American separates himself from the general. He cannot fathom hunting people and tells Zaroff,

"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder." 

Zaroff gives Rainsford the option of being hunted or succumbing to the torture of the servant Ivan. Rainsford chooses the hunt and, while Zaroff is an excellent tracker, Rainsford escapes and kills the general in his bedroom in the stories last scene.  

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