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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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Why is Rainsford considered a dynamic character in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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In literature, a dynamic character is a person, typically the protagonist, who undergoes a substantial internal change as the plot develops. Throughout the short story "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford gains perspective on the sport of hunting after undergoing an arduous experience fleeing General Zaroff on Ship-Trap Island. At the beginning of the story, Rainsford is a relatively comfortable and narrow-minded hunter, who does not have empathy for the animals he routinely hunts. Rainsford tells Whitney, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" Rainsford again voices his opinion on hunting by telling Whitney,

"The world is made up of two classes-- the hunters and the huntees."

After Rainsford arrives on Ship-Trap Island, he is introduced to the maniacal General Zaroff, who explains to Rainsford how he hunts humans on the island. Rainsford is then forced to participate in the life-and-death "game," and traverses the island in an attempt to avoid the armed General Zaroff for three days. During the three days, Rainsford hides in trees, builds traps, runs through the forest, and even swims in the ocean to survive, and outwit Zaroff. Rainsford gains firsthand experience being the prey, which allows him to sympathize with the animals he once hunted. At the end of the story, Rainsford surprises Zaroff in his room and refers to himself as a "beast at bay." This comment illustrates the dramatic change in Rainsford's perspective and outlook on life. Rainsford is considered a dynamic character because of his life-changing experience and internal development regarding his views on hunting.

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Dynamic characters undergo changes during the course of a story. Rainsford undergoes changes on two levels. He is able to change and adapt physically during the hunt with Zaroff thus ensuring his survival. More importantly, however, he undergoes an internal change during the hunt. Before the hunt, Rainsford was himself a big game hunter with little regard or concern for the animals he hunted, but with himself becoming the hunted, he has an "epiphany" of what hunting another living creature involves thus perhaps changing his perspective somewhat.

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He is a dynamic character because he is able to change and adapt as the situation changes. At first, he is a hunter-- then he becomes the hunted. Lastly, he defeats the hunter and the possibility is left open that he himself could take the place of Zaroff. His ability to think and act makes him dynamic, and the fact that his actions change based on the situation makes him highly dynamic.

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