What is the irony of General Zaroff's character?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the situational irony presented in the story when Zaroff actually becomes the hunted instead of the hunter, Zaroff's character also displays ironic traits. When Rainsford initially enters Zaroff's chateau, he sees Zaroff elegantly descend the marble steps in a refined manner. At dinnertime, Rainsford is fascinated by Zaroff's beautifully designed dining room as he enjoys his delectable meal. While they are eating, Zaroff tells Rainsford, "We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. Please forgive any lapses" (Connell, 5). Zaroff then mentions that he's read numerous hunting books from exotic locations throughout the world and is a connoisseur of big game hunting. Despite Zaroff's affinity for fine arts and his insistence that he is civilized, he ironically behaves like a savage by hunting men. Zaroff appears to be the quintessential gentlemen but ironically is a murderer. Whenever General Zaroff shows Rainsford how his home beckons ships under the guise of being a lighthouse, he says, "I have electricity. We try to be civilized here" (Connell, 8). Rainsford challenges Zaroff's assertion of his own civility by saying, "Civilized? And you shoot down men?" (Connell, 8).

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Edward Connell, the irony of Zaroff's character is that he becomes a victim of his own treachery.  He begins hunting humans because he becomes bored with hunting animals.  When Ranisford arrives on the island , Zarroff decides to hunt Rainsford. After many hunts Zaroff has become very arrogant in his believe that he is superior to all me.   In the end the tables are turned on Zaroff and he becomes the one who is victimized.  Zaroff is not hunted as he has hunted so many, but Rainsford does beat Zarrof at his own game.  When Zarrofarrives back at his house he finds Rainsford in his bedroom and Zaroff pays the price for his hubris. 

"Rainsford surprises Zaroff in his bedroom. Rainsford refuses to end the game there, however, and kills Zaroff. Rainsford then spends a comfortable night in Zaroff's bed, which raises the question of whether he will simply replace the evil Zaroff."

The author does not say that Rainsford kills Zaroff, but the reader can infer that this is the outcome because as the story ends, Rainsford has had the best sleep of his life.  He awakes in Zaroff's bed and is no longer the hunted.


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The Most Dangerous Game

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