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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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How does irony and setting affect the shocking ending of "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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In order to demonstrate the connection between the ending of "The Most Dangerous Game" and the irony and setting, the writer must connect some of the events of the plot. Here are some things to tie to the explanation of the shocking ending:


  • It is ironic that Rainsford feels no sympathy for the beast of prey in his early conversations with Whitney aboard his own boat
  • Later, as he is being pursued by General Zaroff, and he hears the baying of the hounds, Rainsford comes to know "how an animal at bay feels" now that he, ironically, is in this position.
  • When Rainsford manages to flee and sneaks into Zaroff's castle at night, appearing in the general's bedroom, the general congratulates him, "You have won the game."  But, Rainsford replies, "I am still a beast at bay....Get ready, General Zaroff."  (Here Rainsford reverses the roles of the general and himself and he is no longer "a beast at bay.")


  • On his ship Sanger Rainsford anticipates a great hunt on the Amazon with his friend Whitney, and is unworried.
  • Once Rainsford falls off the ship and lands on Ship-Trap Island, Rainsford finds himself no longer in the role of hunter. He arrrives at a new understanding of a beast of prey as he becomes a part of the most dangerous of games on the island that has traps and dogs chasing him; Rainsford learns the meaning of terror.
  • Because he has been placed in this bizarre and dangerous setting, Rainsford learns how the hunted feel as well as how the hunter senses his victory.

In the end when Rainsford sneaks into the general's room, Zaroff realizes that Rainsford has him at an advantage and congratulates his opponent, but Rainsford replies that he is yet a "beast at bay." In the final irony, however, Rainsford returns to the role of hunter and, just as he was at the beginning of the story, he feels no remorse for Zaroff; instead he enjoys the comfort of the bed that he has claimed. 

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