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 type of character is Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Rainsford could be considered the protagonist character in this story. A professional big game hunter, he becomes stranded on General Zaroff's Ship-Trap Island, and becomes the same kind of prey he once hunted. His empathy for the game changes as the story progresses.

In the end, he does eventually win in "The Most Dangerous Game," as its conclusion tells us that Rainsford had never slept in a more comfortable bed (the general's). It is implied that Rainsford killed him. Overall, Rainsford's character is central to the plot of the story, and we view events in the story largely from his perspective. These and other factors make him the protagonist.

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In terms of characterization, Rainsford is a dynamic character since he changes during the narrative.  For, in the exposition during his talk with Whitney, he is a man convinced of his opinions, giving no credence to the viewpoints of his friend.   First, when Whitney suggests  that the hunted animal understands fear, "the fear of pain and the fear of death," Rainsford answers, "Bah! They've no understanding."  Then, when Whitney suggests that there may be something ominous out at sea, Rainsford discounts the "sudden dread" of the old Swede and Whitney:  "Pure imagination."

Later, after he is captured and dining with General Zaroff, Rainsford is appalled when Zaroff suggests the excitement of hunting other men.  The general hints that Rainsford may have done just this:  "Surely your experiences in the war--"  but Rainsford "stiffly" cuts the general off, saying he did not condone "cold-blooded murder."

Further in the plot, Rainsford changes because he attains the "understanding of fear and death" as he himself becomes prey for Zaroff.  Then, too, he certainly feels the "certain dread" which he has earlier discounted.  And, finally, he acts in the manner that he has earlier condemned.  He confronts Zaroff as "an animal at bay" and fights for his life against another man.  When the author writes, "He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided," the reader must conclude that Rainsford has killed Zaroff "in cold blood" or he would not be alive.  Thus, the resolution of the conflict finds Rainsford a different man from what he is at the beginning.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," what kind of character is Rainsford?

It is hard to take "The Most Dangerous Game" terribly seriously. General Zaroff is a stereotypical adventure-story villain, and Rainsford is a stereotypical adventure-story hero, the kind of man that boys admire and would like to be. Rainsford is a man of action, strong, silent, handsome, athletic, poised, sophisticated, unflappable. The line that seems to characterize him best is: "...it was not the first time he had been in a tight place." He could hardly find himself in any tighter place than he is in "The Most Dangerous Game." He has to swim through an ocean infested with man-eating sharks in order to get to an island where the owner hunts humans for sport. This is about as fantastical as Jurassic Park, where the eccentric scientist, who has money to burn, is raising dinosaurs to stock an amusement park. Rainsford may or may not be an American citizen, but he seems patterned after the older British strong-silent heroes of authors like H. Ryder Haggard, or like James Bond as played by Sean Connery. I don't think we ever feel that he is ever in real danger or that he won't come out on top.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," what kind of character is Rainsford?

Rainsford is the protagonist of the story, and serves the role of both hero and underdog; he is the person intended to receive sympathy from the reader, and he is vastly outgunned by General Zaroff. As a character, he is simply drawn; the story has a "cold open," with no information about Rainsford beyond what can be gleaned from the conversation. When he meets Zaroff, it is revealed that Rainsford is not only a very famous big-game hunter, but the author of a popular book on hunting.

Desperately he struck out with strong strokes after the receding lights of the yacht, but he stopped before he had swum fifty feet. A certain coolheadedness had come to him; it was not the first time he had been in a tight place.
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," classicshorts.com)

Rainsford is determined and self-sufficient; even when thrown from his boat in the middle of the ocean in pitch-black night. His determination serves him well later, as he refuses to give up, even when all his traps fail to kill Zaroff. He seems to be a moral person, holding human life higher than animal life, but is also willing to kill to preserve his own life. In essence, he is the polar opposite of General Zaroff, who kills humans for pleasure; Rainsford has a personal moral code, which he is forced to break for his own survival.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," what kind of character is Rainsford?

Rainsford is the protagonist in "The Most Dangerous Game." He is fully developed as a character, which makes him round. Because the reader is left unsure whether or not he changes his believes on hunting, it is debated whether he is static or dynamic.

In the exposition of the story, the reader learns that Rainsford is a bit inhumane when it comes to living things. He has no qualms killing animals and does not care if they have any feelings or not. At one point, he tells his hunting partner, Whitney, that "the world is made up of two classes- the hunters and the huntees." He's happy to be a hunter. Later we learn that, despite his views on hunting animals, he indeed has scruples when he is disgusted by Zaroff's game. Through his fight in the jungle, Rainsford also proves himself a strong, resourceful, and skilled hunter. However, we also discover that he too is capable of taking a human life.

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