Who do you think is more evil--Zaroff from "The Most Dangerous Game" or Montressor from "The Cask of Amontillado" and why?Who do you think is more evil--Zaroff from "The Most Dangerous Game" or...

Who do you think is more evil--Zaroff from "The Most Dangerous Game" or Montressor from "The Cask of Amontillado" and why?

Who do you think is more evil--Zaroff from "The Most Dangerous Game" or Montressor from "The Cask of Amontillado" and why?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simply from the aspect of the number of men that Zaroff has killed, the Cossack general from Richard Connell's short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," wins this contest of evil. Whereas Montressor, Edgar Allan Poe's character from the short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," certainly shows his evil side when he coerces his "friend" Fortunato into the catacombs and to his eventual death, his intentions only concern one man. Montressor's murder of Fortunato cannot match the mass murdering skills of Zaroff, who retrieves human shipwreck victims and then hunts them down. Where Montressor shows respect for Fortuanato and carefully plans his murder, Zaroff shows only contempt for his victims, voicing disappointment that their intellectual skills are not closer to his own. Needless to say, both Zaroff and Montressor show a sinister side that cannot be excused or dismissed, but the sheer quantity of Zaroff's victims makes him the winner here.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll play devil's advocate for a minute and say Montressor.  It's possible to make this case, I think, for one simple reason--motive.   It's true Zaroff is hunting humans for sport.  In one way, that's about as evil as it gets; in another, it's quite dispassionate and unemotional.  Montressor, though, is pointed and specific and cruel and vindictive, seeking his revenge against a man who--as far as we can tell--didn't really do much more than insult Montressor.  Both are clearly evil--one killing for sport, the other burying someone alive--but motive, for me, makes Montressor the worst offender.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would also cite Zaroff as the worst of the two because of the number of humans he has killed. Additionally, the mystery about why he is on Ship Trap Island leads one to believe that he might have committed crimes in his homeland which caused him to be exiled. 

One more reason for Zaroff over Montresor--while Zaroff is  certainly maniacal, he does come across assane.  Montresor does not.  He never gives the specific insult he endured from Fortunato, and his elaborate murder scheme demonstrates the typical psychologically unreliable character of which Poe is so fond.

ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What an interesting question!  I love auntlori's point that a minor insult shouldn't result in someone being walled up underground.  i do, though, think that overall, Zaroff is the more "evil" of the two.  To me, someone who gets pleasure from seeing others (whether they're people or animals) suffer is truly evil.  Because we don't have any evidence that the incident with Montressor isn't isolated, and because Zaroff takes people with whom he isn't even acquainted (and therefore, who couldn't possibly have done anything to him), I'd say Zaroff. 

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just playing the devils advocate here. Zaroff always gave his prey a chance to escape, so if they were clever enough to evade him (as Rainsford was) they would survive. Also, Zaroff seemed to have no conscience, so he wasn't doing something he thought of as wrong (even though we know it was.) On the other hand, Montressor knew what he did was wrong. He never gave his victim a chance to escape, and even so many years after the event, he still tells the story with a proud vindicitiveness.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would have to say that Montresor is more evil than Zaroff because Zaroff at least gives Rainsford a sporting chance to save himself. Zaroff is not as cruel as Montresor, either. Montresor wants his victim to suffer a long, lingering death, while Zaroff would simply kill his victim outright with a rifle shot. Zaroff is also risking his own life in the "game." Rainsford comes close to killing him twice and finally does kill him in the end.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not sure either is sane, although Zaroff seems to be so.  Montressor is getting revenge for some perceived wrong, while Zaroff is just killing for sport.  I think that makes Zaroff more disturbing.  Whether or not both know what they are doing is wrong can be questioned, but Zaroff is more dangerous than Montressor in his current setting.  Montressor may very well appear normal most of the time, until he thinks you have wronged him.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question. At least with Montresor he has the excuse of madness, whereas Zaroff appears disturbingly sane. In response to the previous post, Zaroff does give his prey a chance, but it is obvious that this can be described as playing with his prey before he eventually kills it.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In concurrence with the previous two posts, Zaroff is coldly evil and more heinous than Montresor, whose one crime is that of passion.  While Montresor's act is murderous, he does, at least, treat his victim as a human being, not "a beast of prey" as does Zaroff.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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