The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

January 25, 2013
General Zaroff Character Analysis

Have you ever stumbled upon a crazy person at the fair or at school? They only thing that could be worse than that is if they were obsessed with hunting and they have run out of creatures to hunt. There is one man that I can think of that fits this description, General Zaroff. In “The Most Dangerous Game,” by Richard Connell, Zaroff is a hunter on an island who shoots people. Rainsford then finds the island on accident and the general tries to hunt him. From the way the general thinks, talks, acts, and how people react to him, it is obvious that General Zaroff is a crazy killer.
First, General Zaroff talks like a crazy person. Zaroff said, “Like all of his race, a bit of a savage. He is a Cossack, so am I”. (Connell 17) He wasn’t saying other people thought that he was a savage, he was considering himself a savage. He later said, ”We try to be civilized here.” (Connell 22) He was contradicting himself. You cannot have an island full of savages and be civilized. It is obvious that General Zaroff is crazy because he is saying he is a savage and by contradicting himself when he is talking.
From the General’s actions, it is easy to see that he is crazy. The book stated, “He (Rainsford) saw that in the general's right hand held something metallic, a small automatic pistol, but before his eyes reached Rainsford’s hiding spot, he smiled. He very deliberately blew a smoke ring in the air; then he turned around and walked carelessly away.” General Zaroff saw Rainsford up in the tree and showed it by smiling right before his eyes reached Rainsford’s hiding spot. Also, he blew a smoke ring very deliberately towards Rainsford. This shows that he was ready to kill Rainsford with the pistol but he wanted more of a challenge.

Thirdly, Zaroff's thoughts show he is a maniac because he only cared about his lack of victory in killing Rainsford, and not that he lost his only human companion. On page 28 the book reads, “One was the thought that it would be difficult to replace Ivan; the other was that his quarry had escaped him, of course the American hadn't played his game.” He had lost his only companion and his only thought about replacing him. Zaroff cared more about his lost quarry than mourning his friend. This shows that the General had lost his marbles because he cared more about failing to kill someone than losing his companion.

Finally, other people react to Zaroff like he is crazy. When Zaroff explained to Rainsford what he did for fun, Rainsford reacted poorly. Rainsford said,”Civilized? And you shoot men”? Rainsford was surprised that anyone could consider themselves civilized and hunt men. Only a true psychopath would consider himself civilized after killing humans on multiple occasions.
In conclusion, Zaroff is a crazy killer. His speech states that he even considers himself a savage along with the rest of his race. His actions showed that he was ready to kill Rainsford with the pistol, but he wanted more of a challenge. Rainsford’s reaction to learning that Zaroff kills people for sport was that the general thinks he is civilized, even though that he said that he was a savage. In his thoughts, General Zaroff said that the American hadn't played his game. Just one of these facts would put anyone in an insane asylum for life, but all of them together makes General Zaroff.
Work cited:
Connell, Richard. “The Most Dangerous Game” Elements of Literature: Third Course. Ed. Kathleen Daniel, Austin Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2001

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