Rise of the Novel

Richard Connell’s "The Most Dangerous Game"
1- Conflict
Conflict is one of the main elements of any short story because it is the power that moves the
action forward and reveals the complexity of the characters. There are two main kinds of conflict:
external and internal. The external conflict refers to two opposed powers trying to defeat each other.
This may be a conflict between one man and another man or between man and nature. The internal
conflict highlights a struggle between man and himself; that is, between his reason and his passion
or between his ambitions and his limitations. In this way, the conflict may be physical, moral,
mental or emotional.
Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” is full of conflicts that increase the suspense and
attract the reader’s attention to the story. The first conflict is a mental one; that is, it is a conflict of
ideas between Rainsford and Whitney concerning their attitude towards hunting animals. Rainsford
is indifferent to the suffering of animals and he tells his companion Whitney that he does not think
that animals have that kind of fear common to human beings. He confirms that animals have “no
understanding.” On the other hand, Whitney believes that they have feelings, particularly the fear of
death and pain. By the end of the story, when Rainsford is chased like a hunted animal, he suffers
from that horrible feeling of fear and realizes that the hunted animal may have feeling and
The second conflict is a physical one between man and nature when Rainsford falls into the
sea by accident. Although the night is very dark and he does not know where he is going, Rainsford
fights hard against the sea until he reaches the land. This conflict stresses the strong will of this man
and his intelligence. He does not let fear control his mind or despair drive him to give up. On the
contrary, he thinks calmly and this helps him to survive.
The third conflict is a mental one between man and man. Rainsford and Zaroff argue about
hunting people. The General claims that it is a kind of sport, while Rainsford believes that it is
murder. It is clear that this General has no human feelings at all; so, Rainsford knows quite well that
he cannot convince him of stopping this action. Another conflict related to this one is a moral
conflict within Rainsford; it is a feeling of shock and horror when he knows that the General hunts
human beings instead of animals. He finds that he cannot overlook this “cold-blooded murder.”
The fourth conflict is an emotional one within Rainsford. It begins when he leaves the
chateau and walks into the jungle. He has made a deal with the General that may cost him his life.
The deal states that if Rainsford manages to save himself from being hunted by the General, he will
be a free man. Rainsford tries to keep himself calm and uses his experiences to try to overcome the
General, his giant Ivan, and his dogs. He repeats to himself, "I must keep my nerve. I must keep my
The fifth conflict is many-sided; it is first a mental conflict in intelligence and hunting
experience between Rainsford and General Zaroff. It is also a physical conflict during the manhunt
between Rainsford on the one hand and Zaroff, Ivan and the dogs on the other hand. This conflict
forms the greatest part of the story and arouses the reader's suspense to discover the winner.
Rainsford finally manages to defeat and kill Ivan and some of the dogs. When he finds that there is
no escape in the end, he uses his intelligence and jumps in the sea. When the General goes back
home happy that he has got rid of an intelligent rival, he finds Rainsford waiting for him at the
chateau. Rainsford finally kills the General. Thus, this conflict ends in victory for Rainsford because
he has used his mind and experience cleverly and never let despair or pride blind him to the truth.
The defeat of General Zaroff has been the result of his pride of his intelligence and his inhumanity.
Rainsford manages to win this conflict because he does his best to survive, while the General is so
sure of success and victory and so he is defeated.
Suspense refers to the element of interest that makes the reader interested to know what is
going to take place in the following scenes. Suspense becomes very effective when it is combined
with worry about the fate of a certain character.
Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is full of suspense since it makes the reader all the
time excited to know what is going to happen to the protagonist. The first element of suspense is the
title of the story itself. It is not clear whether the word "game" refers to a kind of contest or to a
hunted victim. As the action moves, we come to discover that it refers to a hunted human being,
namely the protagonist. Another example of suspense is related to Whitney's speech about the
mystery of the "Ship-Trap Island". He comments that all sailors feel afraid of this place because it
seems to be full of evil. When Rainsford reaches the chateau, another example of suspense is seen.
We wonder who is going to open the door for him and feel worried about this mysterious place.
Another example of suspense that forms the heart of the story is when Zaroff tells Rainsford that he
hunts "more dangerous game" on this island than any other animal. We become excited to know
what this game is until Zaroff shocks Rainsford and the reader by making it clear that it is man.
The writer also uses another kind of suspense related to physical danger. That is, suspense
results from our fear for the protagonist. When Rainsford falls into the sea, we become excited and
worried to know whether he will be able to survive or not. This type of suspense controls the second
half of the story, especially in the confrontation between Rainsford and both Ivan and the dogs.
Here suspense results because of our desire to know who will achieve victory and who will be
defeated and killed. When Rainsford turns into a hunted animal and is forced to defend himself and
to do everything to survive, the suspense increases until we reach the climax of the action. It refers
to the last part of the agreement between Rainsford and Zaroff, the chase. During this chase, we see
so many examples of suspense as both Rainsford and the General do their best to win the game.
When Rainsford manages to kill Ivan, suspense arises because we do not know how the General is
going to take revenge. When Rainsford jumps in the sea to save his life, we do not know whether he
will remain alive or not. Thus, all these examples make this short story a good example of suspense
and convey a mysterious touch that attracts the reader to follow it until the end.
In short, the story depends on suspense to attract the reader. It keeps us all the time following
up the events and feeling afraid for protagonist in his adventure with the General and his giant.
3- Characters
The characters are the carriers of the theme or the idea of the literary work; they are the soul
of the action. They are divided according to whether they are flat or round and whether they are
dynamic or static. A flat character is a simple one very clear to the reader. It does not need great
efforts to understand its nature. A round character is a complex one that needs great efforts to
understand its nature. It is a deep character that changes its attitudes and views to the best whenever
it faces any problem. A dynamic character refers to one that develops throughout the story, but a
static character (a stereotype) represents a certain view and does not change at all. Finally, the
central character of the novel who does the good things and has the good manners is called the
protagonist, while the other character that does the bad things and has the bad manners is called the
a. Rainsford
“The Most Dangerous Game” focuses on the development of the character of its protagonist,
for we see him change completely from beginning to end. Rainsford, the protagonist, comes to
realize in the end that we cannot judge matters unless we experience them. We know from General
Zaroff's meeting with Rainsford that the latter is a great and clever hunter who has written many
books on hunting. Later, we discover that Rainsford loves nothing in life more than hunting.
At the start of the story, we see Rainsford quite indifferent to the suffering of animals and he
tells his companion Whitney that he does not think that animals have that kind of fear common to
human beings. Rainsford confirms that animals have “no understanding.” When Whitney tells him
that the jaguars they are going to hunt may feel pain, he sharply answers, “Who cares how a jaguar
feels?” However, by the end of the story, when he comes to be in place of the hunted animal, he has
a horrible feeling of fear and realizes that animals may have feeling and understanding.
We have the first signs of Rainsford’s strength and will power when he first succeeds in
overcoming the sea and reaching the land. He has fallen into the sea by accident and he has to fight
not only the sea but also the darkness of the night. He again fights his way through the jungle until
he comes to meet General Zaroff. Despite the fact that this “Ship-Trap Island” is declared to be a
very horrible place, Rainsford is a realistic man who does not believe all those stories. When he
hears the sound of gunshots, he is not afraid. On the contrary, he realizes that there must be some
humans on the island. This stresses his fearlessness and sense of risk. Moreover, when he is being
chased as a hunted animal, Rainsford manages to trick and finally kill his enemy and his strong man,
Ivan. This reveals how clever and calm he is.
Rainsford thus is a round and dynamic character since we see him manage in the end to form
a different understanding of life. He begins to realize the suffering of animals. This comes to him
when he finds himself in place of the hunted.
b. General Zaroff
General Zaroff is a Russian man who came to live on this island alone with his faithful
servant, Ivan, and his dogs. He learned to be a hunter when he was only five years old. His father
gave him a gun to shoot sparrows. He killed his first bear when he was only ten. He later joined the
army but did not continue because hunting was his only love. This is why he considers his life to be
like a big hunt. General Zaroff is a tall man past middle age with white hair and thick eyebrows. He
has a pointed military black moustache and black and bright eyes. He has high cheekbones and a
sharp-cut nose. His dark face gives the feeling of an aristocratic man used to giving orders.
Zaroff is a symbol of evil in the story because he is a wicked hunter who finds delight in
hunting human beings. However, he meets the same end when Rainsford kills him. Zaroff is a static
flat character that remains evil throughout the whole story and never changes.
c. Ivan
Ivan is the General’s sincere watchdog who carries out his orders without any discussion
because he is deaf and dumb. He is very strong and used to be in the service of the Russian Czar.
Zaroff used to talk to him only with lip movements without giving any sound. His role in the story is
to be the General’s faithful servant and bodyguard. Whoever refuses to take the place of the victim
is threatened by the General to be given to the giant Ivan. Ivan is killed in the end in one of
Rainsford’s traps. Ivan is a static character as well since he does not change from beginning to end.
Besides, being deaf and dumb, Ivan does not utter a single word. Thus, what we know about him is
only taken from the words of the General about him and from his actions.