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

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Examples of imagery, similes, and metaphors in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"


In Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," effective imagery includes the interplay of light and dark, symbolizing deceptive safety and danger. Similes and metaphors are also prevalent, such as comparing the difficulty of seeing through darkness to looking through a blanket, and describing an apprehensive night crawling like a wounded snake. These literary devices enhance the story's tension and vividness.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is an example of imagery in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell?

Arguably, the most effective imagery in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is the light/dark imagery that prevails throughout the story.

Rather than contrasting the light and darkness, however, Connell cleverly creates an interplay with the light and dark: The light deceptively lures or attracts rather than providing safety, as is often the case.

In the exposition of the story, as Rainsford is alone on the deck, he thinks to himself, "It's so dark that I could sleep without closing my eyes, the night would be my eyelids--" This observation foreshadows this interplay of light and dark as Rainsford is lured by the lights in this intense darkness.

Yet, at first there is the traditional suggestion of the safety of light in this part of the story. For instance, that Rainsford is in danger when he falls overboard is indicated by "the receding light of the yacht," and also in this description:

[T]he lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies, then they were blotted out by the night.

After Rainsford finally drags himself onto a shore, he sleeps until late in the afternoon of the next day. Having heard gunfire, Rainsford follows its direction, but darkness is falling:

[B]leak darkness was blacking out the sea and jungle when Rainsford sighted the lights.

Rainsford follows the way to these lights as he thinks of the traditional safety of light, but he soon discovers that they all emanate from one huge structure, a palatial chateau, complete with threatening pointed towers and set upon a cliff on three sides. Still, he is drawn to these lights, the only ones in the darkness, just as the sailors are drawn to the flash of lights leading into the deceptive channel of Zaroff where, like moths drawn to light, the sailors eventually meet death.

The sinister nature of both darkness and light continues throughout most of the narrative. On the first day of the hunt, for example, Rainsford tries to put as much distance as possible between him and the general as he repeatedly doubles back on his trail in order to confuse the hunter. By the time night falls, he is exhausted; so, knowing that it would not make sense to blunder through the dark, Rainsford climbs a tree, taking care not to leave any sign of his having touched this tree. As he rests on one of the thick branches, Rainsford thinks to himself, “...only the devil himself could follow that complicated trail through the jungle after dark.” But, he is wrong, as the general emerges toward morning and stops beneath his tree, lights a cigarette, and then casually departs.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some simile examples in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Ultimately, similes (like metaphors) are defined by their use of comparison to link together two otherwise unrelated subjects. This is done in order to draw heightened attention to a quality that the two subjects share. Indeed, the only real difference between a simile and a metaphor is that similes draw the reader's attention to this act of comparison through the use of the word "like" or "as." If you were to remove that one word, then the simile can be rewritten to become a metaphor (and the same applies vice versa). "The Most Dangerous Game" is filled with this kind of figurative language.

For example, take the scene where Rainsford, still on his boat, first hears the sound of gunshots (and proceeds to fall into the sea). Here, Connell writes,

He strained his eyes in the direction from which the reports had come, but it was like trying to see through a blanket.

Of course, Rainsford is not actually looking through a blanket in this scene, but the image gives a striking impression of Rainsford's struggles to detect where the gunfire had come from.

For another example, consider the image of Zaroff's servant, Ivan, who is holding Rainsford at gunpoint:

The revolver pointing as rigidly as if the giant were a statue.

Here we have here an image by which Ivan's stillness makes him statue-like, and, through specific use of the word "as," the sentence draws the reader's eye directly to its use of this comparative effect.

For one last example, the following sentence simultaneously combines personification, metaphor, and simile all at the same time:

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.

In this particular instance, we can point towards three separate literary effects. First, there is personification, with night specifically being labeled "apprehensive." Next, we have the simile, where Rainsford's restlessness and the slow passage of time is compared with the crawling of a wounded snake. Finally, there is the metaphor where the jungle's silence is compared to that of a dead world. Note, however, the difference between the simile and the metaphor: similes call attention to this comparison whereas metaphors do not.

These are just a few examples of similes that Connell uses throughout the story. You can find many more within the text.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some simile examples in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Another example of a simile can be seen when General Zaroff expresses surprise at Rainsford's values, telling him that they're out of place, "like finding a snuff-box in a limousine."

Zaroff naturally assumed that an experienced hunter like Rainsford would be on the same wavelength as him when it came to hunting human quarry. He thought that Rainsford, of all people, would understand his desire to take his blood-stained hobby to the next level.

But Rainsford's not like Zaroff at all, at least not in this regard. To Zaroff, Rainsford's values seem strangely out of place for someone of his background. Just as Zaroff wouldn't expect to find a snuff-box in a limousine, he finds it hard to believe that a big game hunter like Rainsford doesn't share his enthusiasm for hunting human prey.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some simile examples in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A simile is a literary device in which two unlike things are compared for effect using "like" or "as." A well-known example is a line from William Wordsworth's poem: "I wandered lonely as a cloud."

When the general is explaining to Rainsford how he traps his unsuspecting victims in their boats offshore, he describes the rocks in the sea as if they were were alive:

[G]iant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws.

As Rainsford listens to the general's bizarre story, he finally accepts that he has almost no choice but to participate in the gruesome sport. Time passes slowly as he waits nervously for the departure hour:

An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake.

Once the hunt gets underway, he finds it difficult to evade the general and, as he flees across the island, realizes he has reached the edge of the dreaded Death Swamp. His foot is getting pulled into quicksand:

[T]he muck sucked viciously at his foot as if it were a giant leech.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some simile examples in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A simile is a comparison of two dissimilar things that share similar characteristics, as if they were the same—using "like" or "as" in the comparison. 

For example, "You are the sunshine of my life" is a simile, comparing "you" (let's assume it's a woman) to "sunshine." While they share similar characteristics (both can make the speaker feel warm and happy, like the sun does), "she" will never give someone sunburn. It is not literal but figurative language—language not to be taken literally. It's a form of imagery that provides a description of a person or thing the reader may not know to something that the reader does know —in this case, the "sun."

In the story, "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, one of the first similes is something that evokes an extremely clear mental image. Whitney is describing the "moonless Caribbean night" and notes:

It's like moist, black velvet. 

Note the use of "like," comparing the night to a heavy wet material (velvet). This description gives the reader (without being there) the sense that the air is thick, and it's hard to breathe.

Later Connell provides another simile:

The sea was as flat as a plate glass window.

This compares the surface of the water to the slick and smooth surface of glass, using (in this case) "as" for the comparison of the two.

When Rainsford meets Zaroff the first time, the author uses a simile to describe the General's appearance:

...his thick eyebrows and pointed military moustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come.

Once again, the night is used as part of a description; this time the black night is compared to Zaroff's facial hair.

Figurative language—using figures of speech—helps to provide vivid mental imagery for the reader. A simile is one of many literary devices used for this purpose.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some simile examples in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

The sea is often personified in the story, and described as a person would be.

Personification is a type of figurative language where something nonhuman is described as if it were human or had humanlike qualities.  This type of imagery is used throughout the story to make comparisons and describe the setting and other details.  It helps to create the story’s mood and suspense.

An example of personification can be found near the beginning of the story, when Rainsford falls into the ocean and swims toward Ship-trap Island.  In this example, the sea is described with 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 is described like you would describe a person.  People mutter, but seas do not.  Yet by describing the sea this way, it helps to create a description of the sea and reinforce the idea that the sea is alive, and create suspense.  Rainsford is very happy to have finally reached the shore, so he does not care how grumpy the sea sounds. 

The sea is personified again in an even more direct way later when Rainsford finds the chateau and makes a note of where it is on the island.  Here the sea is described as having facial features.

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.

Rainsford again does not portray the sea in a positive light.  He describes it as having “greedy lips” as if it is desperate for carnage.  Of course the sea does not literally have lips, since it is not a person.  Again this creates suspense, because it makes us feel that something terrible might happen.

Throughout the story, you will find examples like this. You will also find similes and metaphors used to describe the setting.  Connell uses the figurative language to make the story more colorful.  As you read, you may notice these details help create suspense. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some examples of personification in the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell?

In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," there are a number of examples of personification. This literary devices attributes human characteristics to non-human things.

The first example is the discussion Rainsford has with Whitney on the yacht. As they speak of their upcoming hunting excursion, Whitney comments on the fact that hunting is a great sport except for the hunted—the prey. Rainsford says that it's the best sport; Whitney replies:

For the hunter...not for the jaguar.

Rainsford asks (and this is foreshadowing), "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" Whitney suggests that perhaps the animal itself does, but Rainsford insists that it has "no understanding." Whitney personifies the animal, saying:

...I rather think they understand one thing—fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death.

While pain is not limited to humans, fear is a human emotion. Whitney argues quite well that animals and humans share these feelings.

Whitney also personifies evil, noting that it can communicate with "wavelengths" and "vibrations." Another example is found as author describes the feeling of near-sleep that comes over Rainsford, calling it "sensuous drowsiness." People experience sensuousness, not feelings of fatigue.

Finally, as Rainsford swims to the shore (having fallen off the yacht), he hears the sound of the waves breaking on the sand, referring to the sea's "muttering." This sound is closely tied to speaking beneath one's breath so the words (hardly articulated) are difficult to understand. However, the sea does not speak, therefore it cannot "mutter."

Richard Connell provides many examples of personification in his popular story.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are some similes and metaphors in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"?

A simile is a comparison of two unlike things using "like" or "as." A metaphor is a comparison of two unlike things without using the words "like" or "as." In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," there are many different comparisons and figures of speech that help readers to understand the meaning behind a description or a quote by a character. For example, when Rainsford is trying to see the island from the yacht, it is difficult because it is a moonless night. He says, "It's like moist black velvet." Here, Rainsford is comparing the darkness of the nighttime to the moisture from the sea and a soft material called velvet. It means he can't see through the darkness, but this is a better description because it applies the sense of touch, which helps others to relate to his meaning.

An example of a metaphor is from the description of the yacht after Rainsford falls overboard: "The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies." In this sentence, the lights are compared to fireflies without the use of "like" or "as," but with the word "became." Since "like" or "as" are not used, but two things are still being compared, a metaphor is created.

The following is an example of two similes:

". . . 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 first simile compares rocks that crouch like a sea monster; then, the same rocks can also crush as easily as Zaroff can step on a nut to crush it. Both sentences compare two unlike things together using "like" or "as."

The following is an example of another metaphor:

"He was in a picture with a frame of water, and his operations clearly must take place within that frame."

In the above quote Rainsford compares the island to a picture with a frame of water. He's created a metaphor for himself to understand his own circumstances in order to play Zaroff's game and to save his life. This is exactly the purpose of using metaphors and similes--to create a comparison for better understanding.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on