The short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell is a very suspenseful and intriguing story. The story is action packed and draws the audience in from the very beginning. That, in part, is what makes this story so good. In the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, the author proves the theme of man’s depravity through the literary elements of foreshadowing, suspense, and tone.
The first literary element that Richard Connell uses in his short story is the use of foreshadowing. A great example of foreshadowing in the story is when Rainsford is swimming towards the island, he hears gunshots and a scream. This is foreshadowing because even though the reader does not know what is going to happen at the time, the author plants a hint of what is to come later on in the story. Also, the scream is not an animal scream according to Rainsford, but in fact an unknown creature. Another example of foreshadowing is when Rainsford gets to the island and meets and talks with General Zaroff. Zaroff says that what he loves most in the world is hunting, however he is too skilled to hunt animals anymore. He states that he is hunting the only animal with reason but will not tell Rainsford what animal he is hunting. This is an example of foreshadowing because during this monologue, Zaroff is hinting at what is to become of Rainsford but is not outright telling him. Connell uses foreshadowing in this story to hint to the audience that Rainsford is about to be hunted by General Zaroff.
The second literary element that Richard Connell uses in “The Most Dangerous Game” is the element of suspense. An excellent use of suspense in the story is when Rainsford is in the tree hiding from Zaroff, he comes really close to finding Rainsford but at the last second, heads back into the woods. This classifies as suspense because of the build of tension that the author is trying to create in the reader’s mind. The author does a great job of making the reader think that General Zaroff is going to catch Rainsford and kill him. The author creates suspense through his descriptions of what is going on and the way he describes the environment that the story takes place in. The environment is one that makes the reader feel very uneasy and cautious. Another form of suspense in the story is when Rainsford finally makes it to the island after hours of swimming and comes across a house that looks almost like a castle. Upon arriving at the house, the author gives the reader some very striking details about the house that Rainsford has noticed. The author describes the house as almost gothic in its appearance. This properly creates suspense because the description of the house places a sense of fear and loathing not just into Rainsford but the audience as well. The author of the story uses suspense to help further along the theme by making the audience feel like we are in the story too and that they are going to get caught by Zaroff also.
Throughout the entire story, the author does a good job of making the tone of the story very mysterious, suspenseful and eerie. The author, Richard Connell does a good job of creating this tone through his descriptions of the characters, the island itself, and the way the sailors react when they are near the island. In the beginning of the story when Rainsford and Whitney are talking on the ship, the sailors voice their discomfort when they get near General Zaroff’s island. The sailors are described as being masculine and strong, but when they get near the island, they act like cowards. That little detail and description placed by Richard Connell helps set the tone for the rest of the story. That detail described by Connell is important because it shows the audience that something is not right with that island.
Also, the way the island is described by Connell helps create a mysterious, suspenseful and eerie tone. While Rainsford and General Zaroff are talking, Zaroff brings up the subject of the “Death Swamp”. The “Death Swamp” is the swamp on the island where almost everyone gets caught and killed by General Zaroff because there is no where to escape. Another way that Richard Connell makes the tone mysterious, suspenseful and eerie is when Rainsford first comes to General Zaroff’s mansion. Connell describes the mansion as being dark and not very welcoming to the outside. He also, describes the mansion as looking like a castle. This helps create a mysterious tone around the whole character of General Zaroff before Rainsford and the audience even meet him. When Rainsford and the audience finally do meet General Zaroff, he is described by Richard Connell as being a “tall, slender, middle-aged man with white hair,” (Connell). Connell describes Zaroff’s face as having “dark eyes with thick eyebrows, high cheekbones, a sharpcut nose, and a black mustache,” (Connell). Rainsford also notices that General Zaroff looks like an aristocrat in his opinion. Connell’s description of General Zaroff gives the audience a feeling of foreboding when it comes to his character. He does this on purpose because he wants the tone of story be driven by General Zaroff’s character.
The short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell is a story of mystery, suspense, and action as Rainsford fights for his life as the mad man General Zaroff tries to track and hunt Rainsford down in the jungle that is on Zaroff’s island. Connell uses the elements of foreshadowing, suspense and tone to help highlight the theme of the depravity of man in the story. Richard Connell does a good job of not over using one element in the story but using a variety of different elements that complement each other to help make the story fun and enjoyable for the readers of his story, but at the same time, helps prove the theme in the story. Without any one element, the story would not be as impactful or as good as it is with them in the story. On the other hand, the story would also not be as good or impactful if he decided to use more literary elements. The story would feel overwhelming and give too much information for the readers to comprehend in such a short amount of time. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell will always be considered one of the best short stories because of the literary elements that he uses in his story.
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