silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What are examples of metaphor, simile, foreshadowing, and personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Like most pieces of literature, Richard Connell's tale of adventure, "The Most Dangerous Game," contains elements of foreshadowing and figures of speech such as metaphor, simile and personification. There are three good examples of foreshadowing in the beginning of the story. Foreshadowing is when there are hints and clues about what will happen later in a story. First, the fact that the island which the yacht passes seems to have a sinister reputation and is labeled "Ship-Trap Island" foreshadows the fact that the owner of the island is sociopathic murderer who hunts men. Second, the discussion between Rainsford and Whitney on board the yacht over whether animals feel fear and pain foreshadows Rainsford's later experience on the island when he is a "beast at bay." Third, the pistol shot which causes Rainsford to fall off the yacht foreshadows the future hunt between Rainsford and Zaroff.

Metaphors abound in the text of the story. A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things. One of the most important metaphors which reoccurs is Rainsford and Zaroff being compared to various types of animals. The hunting of men is also compared to a "game" by Zaroff. The following metaphors are in order as they appear in the story:

  • "Outdoor chess!" Zaroff compares the future hunt of Rainsford to the board game which requires mental skill. 
  • "He was in a picture with a frame of water, and his operations, clearly, must take place within that frame." The island is compared to a picture within a frame.
  • "I have played the fox, now I must play the cat of the fable."
  • "Even so zealous a hunter as General Zaroff could not trace him there, he told himself; only the devil himself could follow that complicated trail through the jungle after dark." Rainsford compares Zaroff to the devil. A fitting comparison because Zaroff does indeed track down Rainsford.
  • "The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse."
  • "Following the trail with the sureness of a bloodhound came General Zaroff."
  • "Even as he touched it, the general sensed his danger and leaped back with the agility of an ape."

Connell also employs several similes in the weaving of his story. A simile uses like or as to make a comparison between two unlike things or ideas. Again, these are in the order they appear in the text:

  • "The revolver pointed as rigidly as if the giant were a statue."
  • "'They indicate a channel,' he said, 'where there's none: giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws.'"
  • "He flattened himself down on the limb, and through a screen of leaves almost as thick as a tapestry, he watched."
  • "Rainsford's impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther, but he saw the general's right hand held something metallic—a small automatic pistol."
  • "Rainsford did not want to believe what his reason told him was true, but the truth was as evident as the sun that had now pushed through the morning mists."
  • "He tried to wrench it back, but the muck sucked viciously at his foot as if it were a giant leech."

Personification is when human qualities are given to a non-human subject:

  • "The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him."
  • "...on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows."
  • "An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake." Not only does this sentence contain personification, it also has a simile.
  • "Across a cove he could see the gloomy gray stone of the chateau."
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What are some metaphors, similes or examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Metaphors and similes are both forms of figurative language that entail a comparison. The difference is that a simile has the comparison more clearly expressed within the sentence through the use of either the word "like" or "as." To give an example to illustrate this difference, I would cite a famous metaphor from Shakespeare: "All the world's a stage." The comparison here is between the world and the stage. Add an additional word such as "like," and the sentence turns into a simile instead ("all the world is like a stage").

Some metaphors and similes that can be found in "The Most Dangerous Game" include the following: "the sea was as flat as a plate-glass window." Later, as Rainsford falls off the yacht, Connell writes: "the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea dosed over his head." The first example is a simile, while the later is a metaphor (but as is often the case, there's a kind of interchangeability there, so that the metaphor can easily be rewritten as a simile or vice versa, without losing any of its inherent meaning). Later still, as the yacht pulls away, you'll find another metaphor: "the lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night." For one last example, taken much later in the story, consider the following statement by Zaroff, containing two similes in two successive sentences: "Giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."

Finally, with personification, characteristics of living things are attached to non-living objects. Interestingly, that last example of simile contains personification too: rocks can't actually crouch, with the intention of destroying ships. Another example, taken earlier in the story, can be seen in Rainsford's struggles against the sea. Here Connell writes about "the muttering and the growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore." He'll even refers to it as Rainsford's "enemy." Later on, during the hunt itself, we have more in the way of figurative language.

Take the following example, in which simile, metaphor, and personification are all merged together in a single sentence: "An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake and sleep did not visit Rainsford, although the silence of a dead world was on the jungle." This sentence is fascinating structurally: we have the use of simile, with Connell comparing the passage of night with the struggles of a wounded snake, followed later by metaphor, with its comparing the jungle's silence with that of a dead world—but before either of these, there's personification: night cannot crawl along like a wounded animal to begin with.

"The Most Dangerous Game" is a story that contains a great amount of figurative language. The list provided is far from comprehensive.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," can someone identify personification, metaphor, and simile?

There are examples of each of these in "The Most Dangerous Game," but the fact that you need help suggests that you are not familiar with these literary terms, so before I offer each example, I will explain each term. 

First let's talk about personification. That is a way of suggesting that an object or an animal is a person, or is doing something that a person would do.  For example, if I were to say, "The sun smiled down on me," I would be suggesting that the sun can smile like a person, which of course it can not!  In the example below from the story, the writer is suggesting that the night is a person who could press himself against the yacht.

Can't see it," remarked Rainsford, trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht.

Now, a simile is simply a statement that describe something in terms of something else.  For example, I might say, "This cloth is lke sandpaper," indicating it is very rough or coarse. What follows is a description of the night, comparing it to velvet. 

"Nor four yards," admitted Rainsford. "Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."

Finally, a metaphor is a statement that describes something in terms of something else, much like a simile, but instead of saying,"This is like that," a metaphor says, "This is that."  An example might be my saying of someone I love, "He is my sunshine."  Actually, there is a song entitled, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," now that I think about it.  The example from the story shows a metaphor that tells the reader that Rainsford is being hunted and that the General is hunting him, just as a cat will hunt for a mouse. 

The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse.

This is a story that is filled with many examples of personification, simile, and metaphor.  See if you can find some, too. 

 

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," can someone identify personification, metaphor, and simile?

You can see an example of simile just about as soon as the story begins.  Simile is when you compare two things using the word "like" or "as."  Cornell does this when he has Rainsford describe the weather as  "Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."

Personification happens a little farther down when Cornell personifies evil.  He says that it "can, so to speak, broadcast vibrations of evil."  Of course evil can not really do this -- it is not animate and cannot broadcast anything.  Later on still, the sea has "greedy lips" that it licks.

Finally, after Rainsford has met Zaroff and gone to bed for the night, he couldn't "quiet his brain with the opiate of sleep."  Here, the author is calling sleep a drug -- comparing the two but not explicitly like a simile does.

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