silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What are some examples of imagery in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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In literature, imagery can be described as descriptive language that helps create a picture in the reader's mind. In the hands of an expert writer, this a very effective technique as it places the reader right at the heart of the action.

Connell uses quite a lot of imagery in The Most Dangerous Game, which is especially important because the situations with which the book deals are unfamiliar to just about everyone who's ever read it. (At least, one would hope so!) The action takes place in an exotic location, whose unfamiliarity means that Connell needs to use imagery to make it easier for us to imagine ourselves right there in the middle of the story.

A great example comes from Connell's detailed description of the tropical night as Rainsford's yacht approaches Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford tries

to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht.

Our sense of touch is stimulated by this use of personification, that is ascribing human characteristics to things—in this case, the night—that aren't actually human. We can almost feel the oppressive heat of the tropical night, almost reach out and touch it, as it presses hard against the yacht.

Rainsford's description of the night as "like warm black velvet" has much the same effect, highlighting once more its almost tactile nature, something that can be touched and which touches you.

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Imagery is the creative way that an author uses the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Authors use imagery to help readers draw from outside experiences with their senses in order to understand the context better. If readers can connect with a story on a deeper level, then they will have a more enjoyable experience with it.

"The Most Dangerous Game" takes place on an obscure island, so there are many descriptions just from the setting that come from many of the five senses. (Sight and sound seem to be the most used images.) The story is written from Rainsford's point of view, which provides a position from which the reader can read and understand what he senses throughout his journey for survival. For example, Rainsford goes from falling off a yacht into the ocean, to dining and sleeping in a mansion, to being hunted through a jungle for his life. He requires the use of all his senses to help him survive the deadly game that Zaroff demands that he play. Below are some quotes from the story with different examples of imagery:


"There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window."

". . . giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws."


"An evil place can, so to speak, broadcast vibrations of evil."

"Again he heard the sound, and again. Somewhere, off in the blackness, someone had fired a gun three times."

"Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore."


"The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head."

"Night found him leg-weary, with hands and face lashed by the branches, on a thickly wooded ridge."


"'You have some wonderful heads here,' said Rainsford as he ate a particularly well-cooked filet mignon."


"Then he straightened up and took from his case one of his black cigarettes; its pungent incense-like smoke floated up to Rainsford's nostrils."




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