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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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Examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game."

Summary:

Examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game" include similes, metaphors, and personification. For instance, the author describes the night as "moist black velvet," a metaphor that creates a vivid image of the setting. Similes are used when comparing Rainsford's fear to "a giant leech." Personification appears when the sea is described as "muttering and growling" like an angry creature.

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What are some metaphor examples in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A metaphor is a comparison of two things, without using the words "like" or "as" (a comparison with those words would be a simile). Typically, an author uses metaphor to make writing more poetic and help readers visualize the action or indicate clues about characters, setting, etc.

For example, in "The Most Dangerous Game," the narrator says of Rainsford, "The Cossack was the cat. He was the mouse." This metaphor indicates Rainsford's position of helplessness and being toyed with as he was hunted by Zaroff.

Another example is at the beginning of the story, when the narrator describes the surroundings after Rainsford falls overboard, saying “The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies.” This line suggests the finality of Rainsford position (he is definitely not getting back on that ship again), as well as creating a beautiful piece of imagery

Finally, when Rainsford swims towards the island and hears the "muttering and growling of the sea,” there is a metaphor that compares the sea to a living creature, specifically one that might harm him. Aside for being poetic, this reaffirms how stranded he is on the island; the water will not allow him to escape easily.  

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

When we personify something, we give it human characteristics. For example, if I said, "The flower stretched toward the sun's rays," we are giving the flower the characteristic of "stretching," a word normally used for human beings. Personification is a figurative language technique used to make writing more descriptive and interesting.

In "The Most Dangerous Game," author Richard Connell uses personification throughout. On the very first page he uses it to describe the evening heat.

"'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" (Connell 1).

The night can't really "press" its blackness. Connell is personifying the night here.

A little later Whitney asks Rainsford if he has noticed that "the crew's nerves seemed a bit jumpy today" (Connell 1). Again, nerves don't really jump. Jumpy is a word we sometimes use to express the state of being nervous.

After Whitney retires to bed, Rainsford is left alone on the deck of the ship. Connell describes the night once again using personification. "The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him" (Connell 2)  Drowsiness is a human trait he is using for the darkness.

When Rainsford falls overboard and after swimming vigorously for some time reaches the shore, he is happy to hear a particular sound.

"Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore" (Connell 3)

Here Connell describes the sea as "muttering." People mutter, and Connell chooses this particular word to personify the sea.

These are just a few examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game." If you read carefully, you will find many more!

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Personification is the giving of human characteristics to non-human/non-living things. An example of personification is: the wind screams at me. Here, the wind is given the capability to scream at the speaker. Wind cannot scream and, therefore, it is personified.

In Richard Connell's short story, The Most Dangerous Game, there are many examples of personification.

1. "Trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht" is an example of personification based upon the fact that the night is pressing itself (its warm thick blackness") on the yacht. Darkness cannot press itself upon something. Therefore, it is personified in the text.

2. "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" "Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney. Here, the jaguar is given the ability to care. This, therefore, is an example of personification based upon the fact that the jaguar is given (or assumed to possess) the ability to care.

3. "A sharp hunger was picking at him." This is another example of personification given that hunger is able to "pick" at Rainsford. Hunger cannot "pick" at someone. Therefore, it is personified by being given the ability to do so.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

At the beginning of "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford describes the close, humid, tropical night as being "like moist black velvet," a simile that adds to the sense of oppressiveness, as well as the funereal quality of the atmosphere. When Rainsford reaches the island, the sea is personified as his enemy, from whom he is now safe. In the following paragraph, hunger is also personified and described as "picking at him," as though hunger itself is hungry and he is the food. These personifications emphasize the way in which Rainsford is surrounded by dangers, seen and unseen.

General Zaroff's highly civilized home and lifestyle are described in some detail, as is his devotion to the great passion of his life, hunting. The long black cigarettes Zaroff smokes are perfumed with "a smell like incense," suggesting that at the heart of all this luxury is a quasi-religious devotion. Zaroff's luxurious tastes are also apparent when he seeks a simile to describe what he regards as Rainsford's puritanical attitude to killing human beings. Saying that he finds it incongruous to discover Victorian moral attitudes in a well-educated, modern young man, Zaroff remarks, "It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine." While this juxtaposition is somewhat incongruous, it is not nearly so striking as the oddity of finding Zaroff and his chateau on an apparently deserted island. The tameness of the simile in this instance contrasts with the dawning horror in Rainsford's mind, as he understands the nature of Zaroff's quarry.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Figurative language is non-literal phrasing meant to evoke a certain feeling or meaning. It is commonly used to color writing and can be used in both fiction and nonfiction. Common examples of figurative language include metaphors and similes, both of which are used to compare two things that are not alike. Metaphors directly claim that one thing is like another ("Love is a battlefield"), while similes point out the similarity using terms such as "like" or "as" ("She is as cunning as a fox"). The examples below are all similes.

At the beginning of "The Most Dangerous Game," there are quite a number of figurative phrases. While speaking with Rainsford on the boat, Whitney recalls seeing the ocean look as "flat as a pane glass window." Of course, the ocean is not literally like this, but this simile is meant to give both Rainsford and the reader an idea of how the ocean appeared.

Another simile appears when Rainsford falls into the sea and tries to shout after the yacht as it speeds away from him:

The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night.

By calling the lights on the ship fireflies, the author is emphasizing their small size and long distance from Rainsford.

The author uses simile again when Rainsford takes in Zaroff's appearance. Notice how the language highlights Zaroff's sinister nature without spelling it out or before Rainsford even knows that the general is bad news:

He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come.

This simile—"as black as the night"—links Zaroff with the fear and vulnerability Rainsford feels in the darkness outside. The night is generally described as suffocating and overwhelming in the story, making Zaroff's association with it a subtle foreshadowing of his evil.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There are many examples of figurative language in “The Most Dangerous Game.” For example, at the beginning of the story, when Whitney and Rainsford are talking, Whitney brings up the fact that the sailors seem nervous about their surroundings. At first, Rainsford scoffs, but then he remembers the Captain did seem uneasy. Whitney tells the story of his talk with the Captain, claiming to have felt uneasy when the Captain asked him if he felt anything. “The sea was flat as a plate glass window,” he says, a simile indicating how strange the sea seemed and making him feel odd.

Another good example of figurative language is when Rainsford feels a “sharp hunger picking at him.” This is a good example of personification, indicating that hunger, like a person, is picking at him. Another example of personification is when Rainsford is trying to make his way to the chateau, and he looks “down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.” The sea is being personified as a greedy person licking his lips, waiting to swallow someone.

There are also metaphors in the story. When Rainsford reaches the chateau and the door is opened, he stands blinking in “river of glaring gold light.” In this case, the metaphor is a comparison of light to a river. Another metaphor can be found during the hunting scene when Rainsford is hiding in the tree, and the general tracks him there but does not “catch” him. This is when Rainsford realizes that “The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse,” a metaphor for the “cat and mouse” game—the idea that the general is toying with him like a cat toys with its prey.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implied comparison between two unrelated things that happen to share certain characteristics. Throughout "The Most Dangerous Game," readers are made familiar with the idea of being the hunter or being the hunted. Rainsford is a world-class hunter. He knows what it is to be the predator, but he doesn't understand what it feels like to be stalked and played with like cats sometimes do with mice. Once Zaroff forces Rainsford to be the prey, he quickly realizes the role reversal, and readers are given a nice metaphor that points it out.

The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse.

A specific type of metaphor is a simile. Like a metaphor, it makes a comparison between unrelated things, but a simile is a much more explicit comparison because it announces the comparison by using "like" or "as" to make the comparison. "The Most Dangerous Game" has quite a few great similes in the text. For example, readers are told that Rainsford began to dig "like some prehistoric beaver" when he is in the Death Swamp. Another great simile appears at the very beginning of the story when Rainsford and Whitney are talking about the inky blackness that surrounds their ship.

Ugh! It's like moist black velvet.

Zaroff uses a vivid simile during his explanation to Rainsford about how he is able to capture ships and sailors on his island. Zaroff has lights that fake a channel for ships, and the ships are torn up on the sharp rocks.

"They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws."

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

The most significant metaphor in the story is the hunter versus the hunted.

A metaphor is when an idea stands for something else.  The biggest extended metaphor in the story is voiced by Rainsford at the beginning of the story.  It is part of the conversation that he has with Whitney about whether or not animals feel.  Rainsford’s position is that they do not.

"Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters.

This is part of the overall metaphor in the story of the weak versus the strong, or the hunter versus the hunted.  Rainsford and Zaroff act out this metaphor in their interaction when Zaroff forces Rainsford to play the game.

Generally speaking, this story is full of figurative language.  It helps create a picture in the reader’s mind.  While an extended metaphor is a big concept used throughout the story, you will find several smaller metaphors used throughout.  Do not confuse them with similes (“It's like moist black velvet.").  A simile is an indirect comparison.  A metaphor does not use "like" or "as."

Compare that to a metaphor.

“It's so dark," he thought, "that I could sleep without closing my eyes; the night would be my eyelids--"

When you say “night would be my eyelids” it is not literal.  Night is not literally an eyelid.  It just means it is very dark.  It is a way of setting the mood, and showing Rainford’s emotional state.

Consider this metaphor too.

The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night. 

In this case, the lights of the ship are compared to fireflies.   It helps you picture what they look like, but again, also helps to capture Rainsford’s state of mind as he watched the ship leave him in the water.  He knew that he was left behind, and he feared he might die if he did not make it to shore.

In the case of both extended metaphors and the smaller metaphors develop Rainsford's state of mind throughout the story.  As he goes from being the hunter on the ship to the hunted in Zaroff's clutches, he is at first afraid, and then soon finds his nerve.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

"The Most Dangerous Game" uses many types of imagery, including simile, metaphor, and personification.

Imagery is “the use of language to represent actions, persons, objects, and ideas descriptively” and includes sensory language, which are descriptions that appeal to the five senses. Authors use imagery to help the reader picture the setting, story, and the story's events. 

An example of imagery is this simile from the beginning of the story, where the author describes how dark the night is. 

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

This is a simile because it compares two things using “like” or “as." In this case, the night is compared to moist black velvet. This is important because Rainsford cannot see the island. This image appeals to how much humans value our sense of sight. It makes things mysterious and ominous.

A metaphor, by contrast, is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to a person, idea, or object to which it is not literally applicable.” A metaphor says that something is something, rather than saying something is like something. A metaphor used in the story compares the yacht’s lights to fireflies. 

The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night. 

The lights are not literally fireflies. They are small blinking lights that look like fireflies from a distance. Again, this image appeals to our sense of sight. It increases suspense because the yacht is leaving.

Personification compares something nonliving to a human.  It is “a figure of speech in which abstractions, animals, ideas, and inanimate objects are endowed with human form, character, traits, or sensibilities.” The sea is personified. 

Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears—the most welcome he had ever heard—the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore.  

People growl and mutter, not oceans. Yet this image appeals to our sense of hearing. We can imagine the way the ocean sounded. It also relates to Rainsford’s state of mind; he is frightened because he falls off the boat into the ocean and this island has a bad reputation.

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What are some examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Figurative language is a very wide ranging categorization. It includes a great number of techniques, including but not limited to, metaphor and simile, personification, imagery, etc. If done effectively, it can make a story come alive in the imagination of its readers.

In this answer, I will be mainly focusing on Richard Connell's use of imagery. "The Most Dangerous Game" is a work that channels the senses, using rich and evocative descriptions to make its setting and characters come alive. It can achieve this effect through the use of metaphor and simile. For example, consider the image Connell constructs out of the following sentence:

The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night.

In this metaphor, Connell creates an image of a yacht vanishing in the distance, leaving Rainsford (who has fallen overboard) further and further behind. The metaphor makes this imagery all the more memorable and vivid in readers' imaginations.

This imagery can also be conveyed through the use of rich description. Connell does not simply say that Zaroff lives in a large, imposing mansion, he describes it in detail:

But as he forged along he saw to his great astonishment that all the lights were in one enormous building—a lofty structure with pointed towers plunging upward into the gloom. His eyes made out the shadowy outlines of a palatial chateau; it was set on a high bluff, and on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.

Note, first of all, that this passage does end with the use of personification, but even before we come to this image of the sea licking its lips, we find a startlingly vivid description of the chateau, which provides it with a foreboding, sinister feel. Similarly descriptive introductions are given for the characters of Zaroff and Ivan.

Consider Connell's description of Zaroff, in all its vivid detail:

Rainsford's first impression was that the man was singularly handsome; his second was that there was an original, almost bizarre quality about the general's face. He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come. His eyes, too, were black and very bright. He had high cheekbones, a sharpcut nose, a spare, dark face—the face of a man used to giving orders, the face of an aristocrat.

Again, the purpose here is to create a visual impression of the character of Zaroff (who is furthermore contrasted by his servant Ivan, the mute giant who embodies physical intimidation). Through the use of such rich description, these characters feel lifelike, and can potentially come alive in readers' imaginations.

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What are some examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Foreshadowing is a literary device, which gives the reader a hint about what will happen later on in the story. Connell foreshadows Rainsford's subsequent captivity on the island through Whitney's ominous comments regarding the island at beginning of the story. Whitney tells Rainsford,

"The old charts call it`Ship-Trap Island'...A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--" (Connell, 1).

The name and description of the island foreshadow Rainsford's upcoming battle for survival. The reader realizes that something is not quite right with the island and can surmise that it will serve a specific purpose throughout the story.

Personification is when human characteristics are attributed to ideas, animals, and inanimate objects. Throughout the short story, there are several examples of Connell's use of personification. Connell personifies the night by writing, "trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht" (1). The night cannot 'press' its blackness on anything. Again, Connell utilizes personification by writing, "giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws" (9).

A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things using the words "like" or "as." Connell utilizes similes throughout the short story by writing, "The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window" (2). Another example of a simile is when Connell writes, "Rainsford's impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther..." (12)

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What are some examples of figurative language in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Figurative language is essentially comparison; the idea is to give the reader a better grasp on something by giving it a common point of reference. Comparing a woman to a summer's day, for example. In "The Most Dangerous Game," there are small examples of figurative language, but Richard Connell keeps mostly to a clear and simple prose. When Rainsford comments on the very dark, moonless night:

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

...like trying to see through a blanket.

Another couple of examples come from Zaroff; he is a hard, violent man, but is also of very refined tastes and considers himself a superior gentleman. Here is Zaroff's comment on what he feels is Rainsford's old-fashioned views:

"It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine."

Here is his comment on the sharp rocks that destroy ships which fall into the channel:

"...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."
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," classicreader.com)

Here, the violence of his last simile shows how little he cares about human life, and how he believes his actions to be moral based on his personal philosophies. However, the story doesn't need to rely on figurative language to be engaging; the plot itself, plus the straightforward description of Rainsford's inner thoughts, give the story suspense without excess prose.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

In literature, imagery can be described as descriptive language that helps create a picture in the reader's mind. In the hands of an expert writer, this a very effective technique as it places the reader right at the heart of the action.

Connell uses quite a lot of imagery in The Most Dangerous Game, which is especially important because the situations with which the book deals are unfamiliar to just about everyone who's ever read it. (At least, one would hope so!) The action takes place in an exotic location, whose unfamiliarity means that Connell needs to use imagery to make it easier for us to imagine ourselves right there in the middle of the story.

A great example comes from Connell's detailed description of the tropical night as Rainsford's yacht approaches Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford tries

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

Our sense of touch is stimulated by this use of personification, that is ascribing human characteristics to things—in this case, the night—that aren't actually human. We can almost feel the oppressive heat of the tropical night, almost reach out and touch it, as it presses hard against the yacht.

Rainsford's description of the night as "like warm black velvet" has much the same effect, highlighting once more its almost tactile nature, something that can be touched and which touches you.

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Imagery is the creative way that an author uses the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Authors use imagery to help readers draw from outside experiences with their senses in order to understand the context better. If readers can connect with a story on a deeper level, then they will have a more enjoyable experience with it.

"The Most Dangerous Game" takes place on an obscure island, so there are many descriptions just from the setting that come from many of the five senses. (Sight and sound seem to be the most used images.) The story is written from Rainsford's point of view, which provides a position from which the reader can read and understand what he senses throughout his journey for survival. For example, Rainsford goes from falling off a yacht into the ocean, to dining and sleeping in a mansion, to being hunted through a jungle for his life. He requires the use of all his senses to help him survive the deadly game that Zaroff demands that he play. Below are some quotes from the story with different examples of imagery:

Sight:

"There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window."

". . . giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws."

Sound:

"An evil place can, so to speak, broadcast vibrations of evil."

"Again he heard the sound, and again. Somewhere, off in the blackness, someone had fired a gun three times."

"Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore."

Touch:

"The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head."

"Night found him leg-weary, with hands and face lashed by the branches, on a thickly wooded ridge."

Taste:

"'You have some wonderful heads here,' said Rainsford as he ate a particularly well-cooked filet mignon."

Smell:

"Then he straightened up and took from his case one of his black cigarettes; its pungent incense-like smoke floated up to Rainsford's nostrils."

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What are some examples of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There are several examples of figurative language in the story, including similes.  Figurative language allows the reader to better imagine the things that are described.

[A simile is] a figure of speech in which two things, essentially different but thought to be alike in one or more respects, are compared using “like,” “as,” “as if,” or “such” for the purpose of explanation, allusion, or ornament. (enotes guide to literary terms)

There are many types of figurative language in the story.  For example, the dark sky is described as being “like moist black velvet” and trying to see through it is “like trying to see through a blanket.”  These similes help the reader to picture the darkness, and creates an image in the reader’s mind.

Another example of figurative language is in the general’s giddy description of how he traps ships in the island.

The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; 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."

The comparison of the rocks to a sea monster and the crushing of the ships to crushing a nut really gives the reader the creeps.  The choice of figurative language aids in guiding the reader to a specific mood.  We feel creeped out by the creepy images.  It creates suspense because it foreshadows disaster.  We know that something bad will happen.

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List three alliterations, two personifications, and one simile from "The Most Dangerous Game."

Alliteration is often used to convey a particular mood in writing. As Rainsford follows Ivan into the dining room, he notes that "there was a medieval magnificence about it." This repetition of the initial m sound lends a sense of solemn dignity to the space. Later, he is given "rich, red soup with whipped cream." The r repetition here conveys a zesty energy of this soup which is "so dear to Russian palates." As General Zaroff tells Rainsford about the ideal animal he wishes to hunt, he notes that it must "have courage, cunning, and above all, it must be able to reason." Here, the alliteration of the initial c sound draws attention to these particular qualities—and contrasts them with the ability of reasoning, which no animal possesses. The shocking realization that follows is highlighted by the way this alliteration presents such human qualities.

Connell uses figurative language often as he conveys the nighttime setting and creates an ominous mood. When the story opens, Rainsford is in his own boat and peers

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

This example of personification immediately conveys an oppressive mood and foreshadows the metaphorical darkness that will press in upon Rainsford in the story. Once he is out in the darkness and facing being hunted, Rainsford finds that "night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake." This is an example of personification, giving the darkness the ability to crawl. The author then develops this imagery even further, comparing the way it crawls to a "wounded snake." The night is slow, halting, and struggling for progress. This comparison using the word "like" between the ideas is an example of a simile as well.

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List three alliterations, two personifications, and one simile from "The Most Dangerous Game."

A simile is a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison using the words "like" or "as." In the classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game," Connell utilizes a simile during a conversation between General Zaroff and Sanger Rainsford. After admitting that he hunts humans throughout his private island, the general shows Rainsford flashing lights at sea that indicate a false channel and uses a simile to describe the dangerous rocks by saying, "Giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws." The general is comparing the jagged rocks to a crouching sea monster with open jaws. Unsuspecting ships run into these sharp rocks, and the passengers are forced to swim to Zaroff's island.

Personification is a type of metaphor in which an idea or thing is given human attributes. Connell utilizes personification when he writes, "The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him." Drowsiness is a human trait that Connell uses to describe the inanimate night. After Rainsford hears the sound of a pistol shot coming from the direction of Ship-Trap Island, Connell personifies the sea by writing,

Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears—the most welcome he had ever heard—the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore.

Muttering is a human trait used to describe the sound of the sea.

Alliteration is a literary device where two or more words in a phrase share the same beginning consonant sound and occur close together in a series. Connell uses alliteration to describe the dining hall of Zaroff's chateau by writing, "There was a medieval magnificence about it." Connell also uses alliteration when he describes Rainsford making his deadly Burmese tiger pit. Connell writes, "That had been a placid pastime compared to his digging now." Another example of alliteration takes place when Connell writes, "With flying fingers he wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches." The alliteration creates a swift rhythm, which contributes to the hurried mood of the scene as Rainsford quickly works to finish his booby trap.

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List three alliterations, two personifications, and one simile from "The Most Dangerous Game."

A simile is a literary device in which an author describes a thing by comparing it to another thing.  In a simile, the author does this by saying that the one thing is “like” the other things.  We can find an example of a simile very early in the story.  Whitney and Rainsford have been saying how dark it is and Whitney says that Rainsford has great vision but still can’t see in the Caribbean night.  Rainsford agrees:

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

“It’s like moist black velvet” is a simile.  It explains how dark and humid the night is by comparing it to moist black velvet.”

Alliteration is a literary device in which an author uses words that start with the same sound (or have the same sound prominent within them) in close proximity to one another.  The words do not have to be consecutive, but must be close together.  Some examples of this from “The Most Dangerous Game” include:

Desperately he struck out with strong strokes after the receding lights of the yacht… (repeated “s” sounds).

Jagged crags appeared to jut up into the opaqueness… (repeated “j” sounds)

There are many places where the author uses this kind of very short, two-word alliteration.  For example,

Rainsford stood blinking in the river of glaring gold light that poured out. (2 “g” words).

As another example, Zaroff is described as having a “pointed military mustache” and eyes that were “black and very bright.”

Personification is a literary device in which an author attributes human qualities to a thing that is not human and may not even be alive.  We can see an example of this when Rainsford finally reaches the island after falling off the boat.  The narrator says

All he knew was that he was safe from his enemy, the sea…

This makes it seem as if the sea is a person who could actually be Rainsford’s enemy, instead of just being an inanimate part of nature.

Later on, the author uses personification, once again making the sea seem animate, saying that cliffs plunged down to “where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.”  Clearly, the sea does not have a body and cannot lick its lips, but the author uses this figure of speech even so.

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

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 examples of metaphor, simile, foreshadowing, and 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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Can you find examples of hyperbole in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A hyperbole is a figure of speech that involves an exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. There are several examples of hyperbole throughout the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." When Rainsford initially meets General Zaroff, the general comments on Ivan's ethnicity and utilizes a hyperbole by saying,

"Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow...but he has the misfortune to be deaf and dumb. A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage" (Connell, 4).

General Zaroff's comment that "all his [Ivan's] race" are savages would be considered a hyperbole. To categorize every Cossack as being a bit of a savage is an exaggeration.

Later in the short story, Rainsford is attempting to avoid and harm General Zaroff and ends up digging a deep ditch. Connell utilizes a hyperbole by describing Rainsford's emotions while he waits behind a tree, hoping that the general will fall into his pit of spikes. Connell writes,

"He [Rainsford] lived a year in a minute" (13).

Rainsford cannot live a year in a minute, but the hyperbole emphasizes how long the moment seems to him.

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Can you find examples of hyperbole in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

The characters in the story "The Most Dangerous Game" often use hyperbole or exaggeration that adds an extra emphasis to what is said. For example, at the beginning of the tale, when Rainsford is still on the boat, he and Whitney catch sight of Ship-Trap Island, which sailors dread. Whitney uses hyperbole when he tells Rainsford, "Even cannibals wouldn't live in such a God-forsaken place." This is clearly an exaggeration, as cannibals are the fiercest of people and do not generally fear much.

Whitney also notes that the crew seems nervous as they pass the island, and he remarks that even the captain seems jumpy. He says, "Yes, even that tough-minded old Swede, who'd go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light." This is another example of hyperbole, as no one can really approach the devil.

Later, General Zaroff says, "You were surprised that I recognized your name. You see, I read all books on hunting published in English, French, and Russian." It is doubtful that General Zaroff has read every single book published on hunting in three languages, no matter how well read he is.

Hyperbole in the story emphasizes how terrifying General Zaroff and his island are and how extreme the game the general is playing truly is. The characters' use of hyperbole in dialogue and the narrator's use of hyperbole in descriptions emphasize the surreal quality of what is going to happen in this tale. 

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Identify two sentences from "The Most Dangerous Game" that use personification.

A great example of personification in "The Most Dangerous Game" occurs early in the story, when Rainsford is "trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht."

This is a clear example of personification because something that isn't human—night—has been given human qualities, i.e. the ability to press against the yacht. There's clearly something very oppressive about the darkness shrouding Ship-Trap Island, which is entirely appropriate given all the horrible, evil things that happen there.

The sea is also personified at various points in the story, and with much the same effect. After Rainsford falls off the yacht,we have this example of personification:

Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears—the most welcome he had ever heard—the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore.

The sea can't mutter and growl, of course. But the sea, like every feature of the natural landscape in this strange, exotic part of the world, appears to have a life of its own. It isn't just an object, something for boats to sail on; it positively lives and breathes.

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