In The Prisoner of Zenda, why did Rassendyll not shoot Rupert in the assault to release the king when he could do so?

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Rudolf Rassendyll considers himself a man of honor and a true English gentleman. As he says elsewhere in the story, he hates the very idea of killing someone who does not have the chance to defend himself. It goes against everything he stands for. However, in that particular instance, Rudolf...

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Rudolf Rassendyll considers himself a man of honor and a true English gentleman. As he says elsewhere in the story, he hates the very idea of killing someone who does not have the chance to defend himself. It goes against everything he stands for. However, in that particular instance, Rudolf did indeed kill someone—Max Holf—as he knew that it was a case of kill or be killed. That is not the situation he finds himself in with regards to Rupert. Rudolf has a chance to take a step back and gain a broader perspective on things. Rupert will get his comeuppance, and Rudolf does not need to administer final justice. Simply put, Rudolf does not need to kill Rupert. Had it been absolutely necessary, he certainly would have shot him, but even after dispatching such a wicked, loathsome character, we can be sure that, due to Rudolf’s integrity and elevated sense of honor, he would have felt rather bad about it afterwards.

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There are two ways to answer this question.  One way is to look at what Rassendyll himself says about this.  The other is to look at it from an outside perspective -- to look at why we think he did it.

Rassendyll says that he is not completely sure why he didn't shoot.  He thinks it is partly because it does not seem fair.  He doesn't want to be "one of a crowd against him."  The second reason he gives (and he says this reason is more important) is that he was curious to see how the scene would play out if he did not get involved.

From an outside perspective, we can infer that Rassendyll does not shoot Rupert because he sees something of himself in Rupert.  Rupert is something of a foil for Rassendyll -- he is Rassendyll's bad side.  Rassendyll does not want to kill Rupert because he realizes this.  He realizes that he is really no better than Rupert and therefore does not feel he has the right to kill him.

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