What is ironic about Zaroff’s statement: “Oh, you can trust me… I will give you my word as a gentleman and as a sportsman”?
Once Rainsford enters General Zaroff's estate, the general initially treats him with hospitality and portrays himself as a civil aristocrat. During their first meal, General Zaroff explains how he hunts humans on Ship-Trap Island, which horrifies Rainsford. The next day, Rainsford insists on leaving the island, because he refuses to hunt humans with the general. The general laughs before explaining to Rainsford that he will be hunting him later that day. General Zaroff then explains to Rainsford the conditions of the game, which will last for three days. The general tells Rainsford that if he survives for three days, Zaroff will have him dropped off on the mainland near town. Zaroff then says,
"I will give you my word as a gentleman and a sportsman" (Connell, 11).
Zaroff referring to himself as a "gentleman" and a "sportsman" is ironic because he is the complete opposite of a civilized, decorous man. General Zaroff is more of a deranged murderer, a hunting fanatic who kills people trapped on his island. He is not a "sportsman" either, because killing defenseless humans is not a sport; it is murder.
This statement is ironic because Zaroff is claiming to be a gentleman, one whom the reader might predict is civilized and trustworthy. Zaroff, however, is anything but civilized when he hunts other people on the island. He claims to be a gentleman when he's a murderer in all actuality.
The statement is ironic because Zaroff is planning to hunt Rainsford and yet is still telling him "trust me". Upon realizing what Zaroff is doing (hunt humans) Rainsford becomes more and more aware of what is going to happen to him. The irony includes the question "Could Zaroff really be a gentleman when he traps and hunts his fellow humans?"