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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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Analysis of literary techniques, devices, and strategies used to create suspense and inspire fear in "The Most Dangerous Game"

Summary:

In "The Most Dangerous Game," Richard Connell uses various literary techniques to create suspense and inspire fear, including foreshadowing, vivid imagery, and pacing. Foreshadowing hints at future dangers, while detailed descriptions of the island and the hunt immerse readers in a tense atmosphere. The story's pacing accelerates during the hunt, heightening the sense of urgency and fear.

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What inference can be drawn from the author's writing style in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

In Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, a hunter named Rainsford washes up on the island of General Zaroff, a Russian hunter who lets human beings loose on his private island in order to track and shoot them. Rather than give away the plot of this story outright, or have Zaroff declare his actions immediately, Connell uses inference to lead the reader to the specifics of what is going on. Inference, in the literary sense, is when the conclusion is drawn on from clues and subtext rather than expressly stated.

During Rainsford’s talk with Zaroff, the general explains that “hunting had ceased to be what you call a sporting proposition. It had become too easy.” He goes on to say that he thought of a unique animal—a most dangerous game for himself to track, capable of reason. He does not say what this animal is, despite Rainsford asking him repeatedly: “But the animal, General Zaroff?” The use of inference lets the reader come to the conclusion at the same speed of Rainsford, adding to the dramatic tension.

A different sort of inference is used at the end of the story, when the reader is not explicitly told that Rainsford has killed Zaroff, thereby giving in to his game in the end. Instead, Connell lets the last line linger: “He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.” Which ends the story on a creepy note and lets the reader picture the climactic killing on their own.

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What literary techniques does the author use in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Connell's story is a great example of several literary devices. Connell's story makes great use of foreshadowing. He gives clues at the beginning of the story that elude to what is to come. When Rainsford is on the yacht at the opening of the story and he is talking with Whitney about the hunter and the huntee, this is an example of foreshadowing how Rainsford, who is unfeeling about the huntee, will get a chance to feel what it is like later.

Connell also has a great sense of imagery as he tells the story. The reader really gets some good mental pictures about the way that everything looks. He makes good use of similes to illustrate the mood and the atmosphere. For example, "'There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as plate glass. We were drawing near the island then. What I felt was a- a mental chill, a sort of sudden dread.'" Connell also uses metaphors to illustrate points in the story as well, like the way the hunted feel, "The fellow lost his head."He makes use of personification when he writes "An apprehensive night crawled slowly by."

 There are several techniques that Connell uses which is what makes this such a great story.

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What literary devices are used in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

"The Most Dangerous Game" is rich with literary devices. Other contributors have already discussed a number of these, so I will instead turn towards two that have not yet been addressed.

The first is situational irony. "The Most Dangerous Game" is a deeply ironic story, which involves Rainsford, a big-game hunter, himself becoming the quarry in Zaroff's hunt. There is a reversal of fortunes, by which Rainsford has been put in the same position he has placed innumerable animals in his own life: facing death and terror for someone else's entertainment.

The second literary device that stands out is this story's use of foils. Ultimately, "The Most Dangerous Game" revolves around two characters: Rainsford, the protagonist, and his enemy, General Zaroff. However, what is particularly interesting in this case is the degree to which Zaroff holds up a dark mirror to Rainsford himself, revealing the sort of person Rainsford might have been (or might potentially become) were he to lose all moral compass.

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What literary devices are used in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" contains quite a few literary devices. I will try to add a couple more to the previous post.  

"The Most Dangerous Game" makes use of foreshadowing. There's actually quite a bit of foreshadowing. In the beginning of the story, Whitney and Rainsford are talking about the mysterious island off to the side of the ship. Whitney tells Rainsford that sailors have a dread of the island. Readers also learn that it is called "Ship-Trap Island." Readers will eventually discover why it is called that, and sailors do have reason to dread the island.

Another thing that is foreshadowed is hunting an animal that can reason and feel. Whitney feels some sympathy for the jaguar, and Rainsford tells him that is ridiculous. Rainsford will soon be put into a situation where he personally experiences the fear that prey probably feel.

I'll include an idiom that this story uses.  

He lived a year in a minute.

An idiom is a phrase that is not meant to be interpreted literally. Obviously, Rainsford didn't actually live a full year in a single sixty seconds. The text is saying that Rainsford had a lot of time pass through his mind in a very short amount of time. Perhaps you have heard somebody say that their life passed before their eyes in an instant. That is similar to what the narrator is trying to describe.

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What literary devices are used in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There are many literary devices used in Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game".

1. The following quote contains personification (the giving of human characteristics to nonhuman/nonliving things):

dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht.

This is an example of personification given night cannot physically press itself against something (this is a characteristic and human possesses, not something night can typically "do."

2. The next example is a simile. A simile is the comparison between two unlike things using "like" or "as".

"Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."

Here, the night is compared to black velvet.

Another example of a simile is:

The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window.

Here, the sea is compared to a window.

3. "Bleak blackness" is an example of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound (typically used in poetry). Here the "b" sound repeats and creates exemplifies alliteration.

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How does Connell use foreshadowing to build suspense through out "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Your question identifies what this short story is so famous for, and why it is so successful. One of the ways that writers create suspense is through foreshadowing, the use of clues that hint at later events in the story. Foreshadowing makes you curious, even anxious, to know what will happen next.

For me, one of the first pieces of foreshadowing that occurs in the story is in the discussion between Rainsford and Whitney. Note what they say:

"The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford.

"For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."

"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"

Of course, this is ironic as Rainsford himself is going to discover how the jaguar feels as he becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.

The second piece of foreshadowing I will focus on comes very close to the first. The evil reputation that the island has clearly forebodes some kind of ill, as we will later discover. Note how this is introduced:

"Yes, even that though-minded old Swede, who'd go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light. Those fishy blue eyes held a look I never saw there before. All I could get out of him was: 'This place has an evil name among seafaring men, sir.'

This clearly hints at some kind of danger that will feature in the rest of the story.

Clearly another highly significant piece of foreshadowing occurs once Rainsford is on the island and he sees the evidence of a hunt, but he is not able to work out what kind of animal was hunted:

Some wounded thing, by the evidence a large animal, had thrashed about in the underbrush; the jungle weeds were crushed down and the moss was lacerated; one patch of weeds was stained crimson.

Of course, later on Rainsford will no precisely the identity of the species of animal that was hunted.

So there you are - three examples of foreshadowing which arguably help to make this a unique story of suspense story and one which keeps the reader engaged.

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How does Connell use foreshadowing to build suspense through out "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Connell usese foreshadowing in several places throughout "The Most Dangerous Game."  This use of a literary device that encourages the reader to feel a sense of anticipation about what will happen to Rainsford is foreshadowing.

In the beginning of the story, Rainsford and Whitney discuss the blackness of the night and the boat's close proximity to Ship-Trap Island.  Whitney's insistance that sailors have a "curious dread of the place" leads the reader to wonder why they would feel that way.  The reader begins to anticipate the possibilities of that night and location.  Connell's use of phrases such as "thick warm blackness" and "moonless Carribean night" turn the reader's mind toward eerie suggestions.  When the discussion turns to hunting, the idea of danger and death come into play.

Later in the story, General Zaroff states that his mind "is an analytical mind...Doubtless that is why I enjoy the problems of the chase."  Zaroff also informs Rainsford that

...hunting had ceased to be what you call 'a sporting proposition.' It had become too easy.  I always got my quarry.  There is no greater bore than perfection...Instinct is no match for reason...

This information causes the reader to ask himself how Zaroff dealt with his problem of boredom.  Suspense is built as the reader realizes that they prey can only be human, which Zaroff soon admits, and that Rainsford must either become the hunted or join Zaroff.

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What are some of the literary techniques the Connell used to create suspense in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There are several different ways that Connell creates suspense in the story. One is through verbal and situational irony. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that things are not as they first appeared to be. Zaroff himself is mysterious, a seemingly "civilized" man with an over-sized, mute servant. The audience quickly learns that he is seeking bigger prey, and discovers with Rainsford not only what the prey is, but also that Rainsford is next. The story also has a lot of classic gothic/horror elements. The jagged rocks, the sailor's legends about the island, the dark setting, the over-sized palace all contribute to the growing mystery and suspense. Rainsford's speculation when he first arrives on the island about what could have put up the struggle he saw evidence of adds to it as well. Finally, the structure of the story itself adds to the suspense. The quick jump from the climax to the resolution, with a very open-ended closing keeps the reader in suspense until the ending.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the author create suspense and inspire fear?

The Gothic elements of the short story create a blood-chilling, eerie mood. From the gargoyle doorknocker to the animal heads as trophies on the wall, the story reeks with elements of the grotesque and sensational. Juxtaposed with this is cosmopolite refineness (James Bond style) as Zaroff pours Rainsford champagne and serves him lavish dinners. The mixture of barbarism and high culture adds to schizophrenic profile of Zaroff, who plays the intermittant roles of gentleman and devil.

Another aspect creating tension in the story is the "no way out" situation Rainsford finds himself in. He is stuck on Zaroff with no way to possibly escape and must meet the hunter on his own ground. Doubling back to the castle instead of staying in the jungle or tempting his chances at sea is Rainford's means to finally reverse the situation and win. By catching Zaroff off guard and unarmed, he finally beats the psychopath hunter at his own game.

The ambivalent role of Rainsford at the end of the story is also disquietening. Although killing Zaroff in pure self-defense, Rainford feels no remorse but sleeps very soundly that same night. If Rainsford has indeed escaped bodily harm, can the same be said of his soul? Will he 'calll it a day' and go home or will he be tempted to stay and rule the island as his own?

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the author create suspense and inspire fear?

Suspense and fear are built into the fabric of the story from the beginning.  As the story starts, Rainsford asks about the mysterious island off to the distance.  Whitney says that even the most experienced sailors have a curious dread of the place.  This immediately sets an ominous tone and there is even a feeling that Rainsford will wind up there. 

As the story progresses, so does the dread of the island. Whitney comments that not even cannibals would live in such a forsaken place.  Here is the quote:

Even cannibals wouldn't live in such a God-forsaken place. But it's gotten into sailor lore, somehow. Didn't you notice that the crew's nerves seemed a bit jumpy today?"

Eventually, Rainsford falls off the boat and ends up on the island.  When this happens, he meets General Zaroff, who is an uneasy combination of sophistication and eeriness. This odd combination creates suspense and fear, as it is implied that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to Zaroff.  

He was finding the general a most thoughtful and affable host, a true cosmopolite. But there was one small trait of .the general's that made Rainsford uncomfortable. Whenever he looked up from his plate he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly.

When Zaroff's true colors emerge, the reader can clearly see that Zaroff is insane. As the contest begins between Zaroff and Rainsford, there is suspense. Who will win?  Zaroff has the clear advantage, and Rainsford is on the run. This point also creates fear. This fear persists until the end, where it is resolved in Rainsford's defeat of Zaroff. 

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the author create suspense and inspire fear?

Well, I think the setting and context of the story is bound to add a certain element of fear and suspense: two expert hunters in a battle to the death played out on an isolated island... you get the picture. However, what the author does to tantalise us and instil further suspense into the story is during the actual hunt it becomes a battle of wits between the General and Rainsford. During the hunt there are three separate stages when Zaroff lets Rainsford go away and move on to be hunted again. Thus Connell denies us the final confrontation that we want and expect by putting it off for another few heartbreaking moments.

Consider the first example of this:

Rainsford held his breath. The general's eyes had left the ground and were travelling inch by inch up the tree. Rainsford froze there, every muscle tensed for a spring. But the sharp eyes of the hunter stopped before they reached the limb where Rainsford lay; a smile spread over his brown face. Very deliberately he blew a smoke ring into the air; then he turned his back on the tree and walked carelessly away, back along the trail he had come.

It is clear that Zaroff knew of Rainsford's presence on the tree, but in the interests of securing an "interesting" game, he decides not to finish the hunt straight away, rather allowing Rainsford further chances to test his skill against the General's hunting prowess. As the author describes it, the General always returns quickly:

The cat was coming again to play with the mouse.

This playing of the prey clearly is an appropriate metaphor which itself builds suspense - the cat almost always wins, but will the mouse triumph? We are compelled to read on to the gripping finale to find out.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the author create suspense and inspire fear?

In the first few paragraphs of the short story, the ominous setting and dark subject matter discussed between Whitney and Rainsford creates suspense. At the beginning of the short story, both Whitney and Rainsford are traveling on a yacht in the middle of the Caribbean Sea during an extremely dark, eerie night. Rainsford mentions that their surroundings are like "thick black velvet," which adds to the suspenseful conversation regarding the "God-forsaken" island that they are passing. Whitney proceeds to describe the foreboding island by telling Rainsford that it has a terrible reputation, which makes even the crew "a bit jumpy." Whitney then says he believes that evil is sometimes a tangible thing. He thinks that the nearby island broadcasts evil vibrations. After Whitney heads below deck, Rainsford hears gunshots coming from Ship-Trap Island, which also adds to the suspense of the story. Overall, the suspense in the first few pages is created by the ominous setting, the dark subject matter of Whitney and Rainsford's conversation, and the enigmatic gunshots Rainsford hears coming from Ship-Trap Island.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the author create suspense and inspire fear?

Authors use many techniques to create suspense, but one of the most common is the use of setting. To answer this question, you need to ask yourself " what is it about this story's opening that makes me curious, or anxious to know more and continue reading". 

In the first few pages you have a setting involving a dark moonless night in the Caribbean that is described as being like "moist black velvet". This gives the setting an exotic location and the extreme darkness creates an uncomfortable situation. There is also the conversation of "Ship Trap Island" and how the island has a reputation so horrifying that Whitney states that "even cannibals wouldn't live in such a God-forsaken place". This gives an element of danger to the story. All of these details in setting, plus many more, help develop suspense. 

You can also look at the conversations between Rainsford and Whitney and pull more details from characterization that make you want to read on. 

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Name ways in which the author shows suspense in "The Most Dangerous Game."

Suspense is first built by foreboding. Something suggests an imminent conflict or life-threatening situation. 

When Rainford and his friend are on a yacht, the Swedish captain mentions an eerie feeling he gets whenever he goes by a certain island. Sea lore tells of wrecked ships and sailors lost at sea. Later that night, Rainford hears gunshots from that direction and ends up falling overboard. He has no other choice but to swim to the island. He hears more shots, a piercing scream. He finds evidence of a hunt with much blood.

When R. finally finds human habitation, it is a Gothic-like castle perched on a high cliff with a gorgoyle-like door-knocker. He is first received by a butler (rather a henchman) named Ivan, a deaf brute pointing a pistol at him. Zaroff then approaches, excuses for such a poor reception. Although highly cultivated, he is swarthy with piercing eyes and pointed teeth. He also has a strange way of studying Rainsford, which makes him uneasy.

Zarkoff is flattered to receive Rainsford since they both share the passion of big game hunting. When R. realizes that Zarkoff hunts men as prey, he understands too late (after the reader!) that he too will be Zarkoff's "game." The fact that no one has ever "won" against Zaroff is no comfort; he must pit his wits against Zarkoff's in order to survive.

Who will win? Only the last sentence tells us. Periodic effect also creates suspense by witholding critical information until the very end.

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What strategies do characters employ in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Zaroff, Rainsford, and Ivan all have different strategies they employ during the hunt. Rainsford, forced to act as the prey for the first time, uses all of the tricks that he has learned from a lifetime of hunting to evade Zaroff. He doubles back, changes his tracks, and eventually pretends to have died in the ocean. Zaroff, meanwhile, is a hunter of equal or even greater skill than Rainsford, and while he is reactive in his strategies, he always seems able to overcome Rainsford's obstacles. Zaroff even avoids Rainsford's traps, complimenting Rainsford on the skill of their construction. The two men are very well matched in their strengths, and the only reason that Rainsford survives is because he decides the risk of a free death is better than dying as a hunted animal.

Ivan's strategy, in contrast, is simple and direct; he is a large man who has gotten by on his muscular strength, and has not needed to develop a wider skill base. Consequently, he holds the dogs during that portion of the hunt, and since he is not paying attention, he falls prey to one of Rainsford's traps:

[...Rainsford] saw in the shallow valley that General Zaroff was still on his feet. But Ivan was not. The knife, driven by the recoil of the springing tree, had not wholly failed.
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," classicreader.com)

Ivan wasn't prepared for trickery the way that Zaroff was prepared; he expected nothing more than the typical men who ran in straight lines, not the trap. These three strategies are examples of action/reaction for Rainsford and Zaroff, and linear thinking for Ivan.

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How does the author create suspense in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Suspense is generated in "The Most Dangerous Game" with skillfully crafted foreshadowing, atmosphere, characterization, incomplete actions, and sensory details.

In the exposition of this story, there is considerable foreshadowing as the main character converses with his friend Whitney. He tells Whitney that there are only two classes of men: "the hunters and the huntees." He adds that he feels no sympathy for anyone or anything that is hunted. Shortly after this, the friends peer into the dark, and Whitney remarks,

Off there to the right—somewhere—is a large island. . . It's rather a mystery—

Further, Whitney mentions that the crew on their ship seem "a bit jumpy," causing him to feel "a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread." Such words create a tension in the narrative.

Suspense is certainly created when Rainsford falls from the ship as he lunges for his pipe. Sensory details are used as Rainsford is dangerously distanced from the ship despite his efforts in the dark water. The lights of the yacht grow faint and are "blotted out entirely by the night." Struggling to find a safe place, Rainsford swims for an "endless time." He does not know how long he can continue. Then, he hears "a high screaming sound. . . an animal in an extremity of anguish and terror" and, after this sound, there are pistol shots. Rainsford swims toward the sounds and reaches a rocky shore where he finds a flat place on which to lie.

Rainsford does not awaken until the following afternoon. The atmosphere certainly generates suspense as Rainsford wonders what kind of men are in such a "forbidding" place. He follows the path of a hunt, but night begins to blacken out the sea and jungle. After a while, he sees a lighted chateau that stands strangely alone on a high bluff of the island. The huge Cossack who opens the door has "a menacing look in his eyes" that does not change as Rainsford explains how he arrived on the island. Once inside, Rainsford meets General Zaroff, who has a "bizarre quality about [his] face."

At dinner, Zaroff relates his background and tells Rainsford that he now hunts "more dangerous game" than that which he used to kill. Further, his host informs his guest, "You'll find this game worth playing." When Rainsford objects, Zaroff suggests that Rainsford has no choice.

Once the "most dangerous game" begins, there is much suspense as Rainsford finds himself the prey of the sadistic Zaroff. He calls upon all his hunting skills to escape the general and his man, Ivan. As Rainsford hides in a tree the first day, holding his breath and believing that "only the devil himself could follow that complicated trail," he is shocked when the general appears and looks up. Strangely, Zaroff smiles. Terrorized, Rainsford realizes that the general "was saving him for another day's sport!" As he experiences "cold horror," Rainsford tries to last two more days since the agreement is that he can go free if he is still alive after three days. Suspense builds with both the external and internal conflicts.

Near the end of the story, Rainsford, who now "knew how an animal at bay feels," is forced to take a desperate chance as he "leaped far out into the sea." However, to create more suspense, the author suddenly leaves Rainsford at this point and begins to tell the narrative through Zaroff's eyes. As a result, the reader is unsure of what happens after Rainsford's daring leap. This suspense is redirected when Rainsford surprisingly appears in Zaroff's room, and they engage in a deadly duel at the end of the story. 

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What additional literary device could enhance "The Most Dangerous Game" and how?

He uses plenty of figurative language. There are similes and metaphors littered throughout. I would suggest some more sophisticated literary devices, however, and techniques such as symbolism are all but absent. Everything is used a little, but nothing is used a lot.
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What additional literary device could enhance "The Most Dangerous Game" and how?

Since the story uses all of the major literary devices, perhaps you could discuss it from a different perspective. For example, how would the story have been different if the setting was moved to a more urban setting? Or how does the story change if they type of narration changes say to a first person narrator?

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What additional literary device could enhance "The Most Dangerous Game" and how?

I have to agree with #3 on this one. If you go through the story carefully you will find every kind of literary device. Connell bombards us with all the cards in his hand in writing this story as we follow Rainsford's journey and "game" against Zaroff through to his final victory. You would do well to re-read the story and try to identify the elements listed in #3 - good revision!

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What additional literary device could enhance "The Most Dangerous Game" and how?

Your question is what other literary devices could have been used in this story.  I say it has them all.  In fact,  use this story in my senior classes as an opportunity for some quick review of literary devises.  It has: flat/round/dynamic/static/stock characters, all types of internal/external conflict, all three ironies, foreshadowing, plus all the elements of both a basic plot as well as a plot twist at the end.  Symbolism, metaphor, simile...you name it, Connell uses it. 

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What additional literary device could enhance "The Most Dangerous Game" and how?

I would tie symbolism in there as well.  You could talk about the island itself being a symbol.  It is Ship Trap Island after all. You could use the lighthouse as well, describing how it is a false beacon of light that does not help, but draws men to their deaths.  Another idea with symbolism is when Zaroff takes Rainsford to see his "collection of heads."  He describes his new-found prey and talks about his "new" collection that we assume to be human heads.  This can then tie together the belief that hunting (animals--even though legally) is murder.  Perhaps that is what Connell is saying to us through the story.  Any of these examples will work.  They all have enhanced the story to some degree.

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