Who Are the Characters in “The Most Dangerous Game”?

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The characters in Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” are Sanger Rainsford, General Zaroff, Whitney and Ivan. Sanger Rainsford is the protagonist, and General Zaroff is the antagonist in this story where big game hunting reaches a frightening level. Whitney is a character seen only in the beginning of the story as he is travelling with Rainsford, and Ivan is Zaroff’s assistant.

Rainsford and Whitney are travelling together on a hunting trip when Whitney points out a mysterious island called Ship-Trap Island off in the distance. This incident and the discussion the two subsequently have about hunters and the hunted serve as foreshadowing of what Rainsford is about to endure. Rainsford finds himself on Ship-Trap Island later than night and soon finds out what it feels like to be the prey. A calm and intelligent man, Rainsford becomes the prey of a ruthless Cossack killer, General Zaroff. Bored with having successfully hunted all kinds of big game, Zaroff turns to hunting a more intelligent prey: humans. Both men find themselves involved in the hunting expedition of their lives.

The alternative to joining in this expedition for Rainsford is death at the hands of Ivan. Rainsford and Zaroff match wits quite well throughout the hunt, but Ivan is not so fortunate. He is killed in a trap set by Rainsford. When Rainsford jumps off a cliff into the waters below, Zaroff goes back home only to find his “prey” waiting for him. A fight follows in which Zaroff is killed, and Rainsford sleeps in a “comfortable bed” that night with a new perspective of what the prey endures.