Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The dominant technique of this story is that of ironic reversal. Not only does the plot contain reversals that challenge the surface meaning of the story, but also the characters, with their sometimes opposed, sometimes parallel visions of the world, establish expectations that are ironically reversed by the end of the story. The style intentionally directs the reader to think in terms of opposition: hunter versus hunted, strong versus weak, man versus animal, reason versus instinct, civilization versus brutality. However, these obviously opposed pairings disguise a greater complexity; the world is not really arranged so neatly. To be successful, the hunter must imitate the hunted, the man must act the animal, civilization must disguise its brutality.

The final irony, that Rainsford conquers a murderer by killing him, is a last trick on the reader, who has been led to believe that one of the values represented by half of each set of paired opposites is better than the other. No such certainty is possible in a story designed to challenge the conventional understanding of civilized behavior.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

American Interest in Central America and the Caribbean
By 1924, the year "The Most Dangerous Game'' was published, the United...

(The entire section is 672 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

"The Most Dangerous Game" is set sometime after the First World War on a remote, tropical island in the Caribbean, known by sailors as...

(The entire section is 522 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

"The Most Dangerous Game," a gripping tale that pits man versus man in a South American jungle, includes elements that...

(The entire section is 591 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Richard Connell is a master of short narrative. He makes effective use of a number of literary devices traditionally associated with great...

(The entire section is 1080 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The morality of hunting is the primary issue of social consequence addressed by "The Most Dangerous Game." The author portrays hunters as...

(The entire section is 265 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1920s: Big game hunting in African and South American countries is popular with wealthy Europeans and Americans. In 1909, Theodore...

(The entire section is 205 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. How did Rainsford's character change in the course of the story?

2. What is the relationship between the hunter and the...

(The entire section is 204 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Imagine that Rainsford discovers Zaroff's diary and decides to add a final entry. What would it be?

2. How do laws governing...

(The entire section is 279 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

How does the author make the reader sympathize with Rainsford? How could Connell have written the story to have readers identify instead with...

(The entire section is 81 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

"The Most Dangerous Game" gained significant recognition and popularity at the time it was written. A film version of the story was released...

(The entire section is 157 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

"The Most Dangerous Game" was filmed by RKO in 1932. It was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel and produced by David O....

(The entire section is 66 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Moby Dick(1851), Herman Melville's classic adventure novel of a sea captain who hunts his nemesis, the great white whale, Moby Dick....

(The entire section is 146 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Dunleavy, Gweneth A. "The Most Dangerous Game." In Masterplots II: Short Stories, Series 4, Lon-Pro. Pasadena: Salem Press,...

(The entire section is 69 words.)