What really is the most dangerous game?
With a first reading, the "most dangerous game" in Richard Connell's story appears to be the hunting of human beings. But, with a return to the story, especially its ending, the reader realizes that the "most dangerous game" is the game which can end with the loss of humanity and civilization in one's soul.
After Rainsford is captured and he dines with General Zaroff, the jaded general explains that he has tired of hunting animals and now hunts a different prey. Shocked, Rainsford says, "[My experiences in the war killing people] "Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder." He leaves General Zaroff, telling him," I'm really not feeling at all well." The idea of Zaroff's game sickens him.
In this earlier part of the story, Rainsford is appalled at the game of the general. However, later when he is hunted and he must kill or be killed, Rainsford sneaks into the bedroom of Zaroff. Zaroff smiles and congratulates him; in a "low, hoarse voice, Rainsford tells the general, "I am still a beast at bay."
Reduced to the savage level, Rainsford kills Zaroff. Unlike the earlier Rainsford with a civilized soul who was appalled at killing a man for sport, Rainsford's final line indicates his reduction to savagery: "He had never slept in a better bed...."