The Most Dangerous Game

General Zaroff Character Analysis

General Zaroff is an extremely wealthy Russian aristocrat who inhabits Ship-Trap Island with his servant, Ivan, and hunts other men, who are, in his words, “the most dangerous game” because of their capacity for reasoning. Zaroff represents the wealthy elite and lives in a mansion with the finest furnishings, dining, and apparel, but the reader quickly learns that his showy exterior barely hides his predatory nature. When Rainsford stumbles up to his front door, he and Zaroff bond over their love of hunting until Zaroff reveals his passion for hunting humans. He justifies his actions by touting social Darwinist rhetoric that he, a superior man, is entitled to take the lives of the weak. After Rainsford rejects his offer to hunt together, he makes Rainsford his latest prey. Using hunting dogs, the finest equipment, and his extensive knowledge of his own island, Zaroff thinks he has created an unlosable game for himself, only to be defeated when Rainsford outsmarts and kills him in his own house. His reliance on his abundant resources and weakened prey reveal Zaroff, for all of his talk of hunting prowess, to be cowardly. He never enters a fair fight, but uses his dominance over socially, materially, and physically disadvantaged men to affirm his own superiority.
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General Zaroff Character Timeline in The Most Dangerous Game

The timeline below shows where the character General Zaroff appears in The Most Dangerous Game. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Most Dangerous Game
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...who doesn’t respond. An older and more elegant man appears and introduces himself as General Zaroff and the large man as Ivan, his servant who is deaf and mute. (full context)
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Zaroff recognizes Rainsford’s name and welcomes the celebrated hunter into his home with clothing, lodging, and... (full context)
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Zaroff explains that he had to leave Russia because of his position as an officer in... (full context)
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After Rainsford presses him, Zaroff explains that he prefers to hunt humans because unlike animals, humans possess the faculty of... (full context)
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Shocked, Rainsford insists that Zaroff is committing murder, and refuses his invitation to participate in the manhunt. Zaroff responds by... (full context)
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Zaroff demonstrates for Rainsford how he stocks the island with fresh human prey by tricking ships... (full context)
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The game, Zaroff explains, is that he gives the man hunting clothes, a supply of food, a hunting... (full context)
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Rainsford asks what happens if the men refuse to be hunted, and Zaroff explains that the men can choose to participate in his game or be handed over... (full context)
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Zaroff then offers to show Rainsford his new collection of heads, but Rainsford declines and retires... (full context)
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The next day, Zaroff and Rainsford meet again for lunch, and Zaroff complains that last night’s hunt was boring... (full context)
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 When Rainsford asks what happens if he wins, Zaroff assures him that he can leave the island, but on the condition that he never... (full context)
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Zaroff jumps into preparations for the hunt, even giving Rainsford tips about what shoes to wear... (full context)
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...into a large tree to rest once night falls. He feels secure and certain that Zaroff couldn’t have followed his trail. (full context)
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Zaroff finds Rainsford’s hiding spot almost at once. He never looks right at him but casually... (full context)
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...Rainsford stops to craft a trap out of a dead tree. He succeeds in injuring Zaroff, buying himself more time while Zaroff tends to his wounded shoulder. (full context)
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Waiting for Zaroff to fall into his trap, Rainsford momentarily feels victorious until he sees that the trap... (full context)
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At daybreak, Rainsford wakes to the sound of baying dogs and sees Zaroff and Ivan drawing nearer. Considering his options, Rainsford creates another trap using a tree sapling... (full context)
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...the cove. Faced with the choice of risking the rocky waters below or waiting for Zaroff and his dogs, Rainsford jumps into the water. (full context)
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Thinking Rainsford jumped to this death, Zaroff shrugs, takes a swig from his flask, enjoys a cigarette, and hums Madame Butterfly, an... (full context)
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While eating dinner that evening, Zaroff feels annoyed about having to replace Ivan and that Rainsford didn’t stick around to fight... (full context)
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Once locked into his room, Zaroff turns to see Rainsford standing next to his bed. Demanding to know how he got... (full context)