Duality in the Most Dangerous Game

1798 Words8 Pages
With the publication of “The Most Dangerous Game” in the January 19th, 1924 issue of Colliers Weekly, journalist Richard Connell, won his second O. Henry Memorial Prize, two years in a row. While most of the fiction written by Connell, who was twice nominated for an academy award for best original screenplay, has long vanished into oblivion, it is this sole piece of short fiction that has granted him his place in literary immortality (Stedman 1). Connell’s stark exploration of the duality of themes and purpose throughout “The Most Dangerous Game” has allowed his masterpiece to still resonate with readers to this day, 87 years after its first publication. His masterpiece has been published as both: “The Hounds of Zaroff” and “The Most Dangerous Game,” each title conjuring two very different and distinct, yet appropriate images and themes. The double meanings can be inferred by use of the term: “hounds” in the first title. It refers to both the hunting dogs General Zaroff employs in stalking his human quarry and the manner in which he does, refusing to kill Sangar Rainsford when he could clearly do so on several occasions, saving him for another day’s hunt. The term equally applies to Rainsford, himself, who at the story’s conclusion, does not simply escape, but returns to confront and become a “hound of Zaroff” in the final duel, taking his revenge on the general and replacing him. The title “The Most Dangerous Game” alludes to elements of both hunting and gamesmanship. In his essay on the short story, David Kippen, an educator and specialist on British colonial literature, explored the dual meanings found in the title: “A closer look makes the title’s apt, formal, elegance clear. “Game” is both something played and something hunted. The most dangerous game (to play) is therefore (to hunt) man. The double-entendre suggests that the story will be a
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