Why are Rainsford's remarks about hunting jaguars ironic?

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story, "The Most Dangerous Game", the main character Rainsford is a skilled big game hunter who falls off a boat and lands on an island.  He has a discussion with his host, General Zaroff,  about which game is the most dangerous to hunt. Rainsford thinks jaguars would be his choice. The irony here is that Rainsford is discussing game animals such as the jaguar while he himself as a human will soon be hunted as a game animal, and in order to survive, he must use all his skills and become the most dangerous game 'animal' to hunt. Because irony is the opposite of what you expect, this discussion points out Rainsford's expectation of reasonable game when he slowly realizes that Zaroff is talking about humans as the animal which can reason being the most dangerous to hunt.