What are three specific examples that reveal the character of General Zaroff in the story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

General Zaroff is a character who is paradoxical and jaded; he also is highly skilled as a hunter.


When Sanger Rainsford finds himself on an island after having swum for his life because he fell off a ship, he follows the boot prints that he has discovered. After a while, he approaches a "palatial chateau." There Rainsford meets a sophisticated man who speaks in "a cultivated voice." General Zaroff is a gracious host in his home that resembles "a baronial hall of feudal times." At dinner, the table appointments are "of the finest--the linen, the crystal, the silver, the china." However, the dinner conversation contradicts the sophistication of the home and the appearance of Zaroff. For General Zaroff reveals himself as a man who lives for danger and as a sadistic predator who hunts "more dangerous game"; namely, men. When Zaroff tells Rainsford "We try to be civilized here," Rainsford retorts, "Civilized? And you shoot down men."

--jaded (pretentiously callous--American Heritage College Dictionary)

General Zaroff is a man who has hunted nearly every kind of big game. Further, he tells Rainsford that he is so skilled that no animal "had a chance" with him, and he became "bored" with his perfection. For this reason, he has "invent[ed] a new animal to hunt." Rainsford is horrified when he discovers that Zaroff hunts men. Zaroff merely laughs and tells Rainsford, "One does not expect nowadays to find a young man of the educated class, even in America, with such a naive, and, if I may say so, mid-Victorian point of view."

--highly skilled as a hunter

The proficient hunter Rainsford is impressed with the skill of General Zaroff. After Rainsford creates a complicated trail that "only the devil himself could follow," Zaroff still tracks a surprised Rainsford. Later, Rainsford calls upon his expertise and knowledge as a big-game hunter, and he builds the tricky Malay man-catcher. But, Rainsford is amazed that when he nears the trap, Zaroff can sense danger and leap back with great agility and avoid being smashed, only injuring his shoulder.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Rainsford first meets Zaroff, Zaroff knows exactly who Rainsford is. Although that's just a little creepy, it does indeed reveal his character. This shows he is well-read within the field of hunting.

Furthermore, Zaroff is wealthy. This island seems to be his very own. Whether he built the chateau on his own, or it came with the island, his imported supplies reveal that he can afford to keep living this way or he does it quite unethically. In the text, look for the description of the scene when they eat together. This demonstrates the core of his wealth.

Finally, Zaroff needs challenge. He expresses to Rainsford why he hunts man without any reservation, he is bored. When Rainsford climbs the tree and Zaroff knows that he is up there, he blows the rings of smoke to reveal that boredom once again. He did not want the game to be over at that point.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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