“The Lottery” written by Shirley Jackson and “The Most Dangerous Game” written by Richard Connell share a common theme of violence and cruelty. In “The Most Dangerous Game” humans are hunted, as mere animals, to serve as the perfect prey to satisfy a desire for challenge. In “The Lottery” the townspeople are forced to participate in a ritual that will result in the death of an unwilling participant to satisfy a belief that the sacrifice of one of their own will guarantee a bountiful harvest.
By comparison, the elements of violence and cruelty demonstrate the self-centeredness that abounds in each story. The Taking of Life for Personal Satisfaction In “The Most Dangerous Game,” Connell depicts Rainsford, the protagonist of the story, as a seasoned hunter. Through a conversation with his friend Whitney, the reader learns of Rainsford’s lack of sympathy for his prey, despite Whitney’s assertion that the prey has a complete understanding of fear, “the fear of pain and the fear of death”.
This information reveals to the reader Rainsford’s matter-of-fact attitude toward the emotions of the hunter and the hunted. Through a twist of fate, Rainsford is stranded on an island, which he is drawn to by gun fire after falling off a boat, where he encounters General Zaroff. Zaroff is initially portrayed as an accommodating host, offering Rainsford food, clothing, and a place to rest. The two men discuss their various hunting ventures and, through this conversation, Zaroff’s sinister nature is revealed.
Zaroff is a sadistic man who has become bored with hunting animals, as they are no longer a match for him.
“Every day I hunt, and I never grow bored now, for I have a quarry with which I can match my wits,” boasts the General, epitomizing his hunger for a challenge. The plot of the story unfolds further as Zaroff describes in detail how the human is the ideal prey. General Zaroff’s casual disregard for human life allows Rainsford to carefully reconsider the relationship between the hunter and the prey. As he begins his journey as the prey, he compares himself to a fox, a panther, and a mouse.
Both characters display the tendency for violence and cruelty, however, Zaroff takes his desire one step further, forcing Rainsford to reevaluate his opinions. The violence and cruelty demonstrate the lack of compassion for the life of others, both human and animal, and the taking of life for personal gain. Although the circumstances are very different in “The Lottery,” the apparent need for violence and cruelty to benefit the group again demonstrates indifference toward human life, seeing it as only a means for personal gain.
The Taking of Life for Sacrifice In “The Lottery,” the reader presumes the gathering of town’s people is nothing more than an annual social event. When in reality it is a disturbing ritual that has been carried out as a sacrifice with the belief that “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon. ” as stated by Old Man Warner. The characters are depicted as decent people only concerning themselves with the day to day business of their lives. Tessie Hutchison, the protagonist of the story, enters the scene late as she has forgotten the significance of day.
The drama of the story intensifies as the head of each family makes their way to draw a slip of paper from the old black box. After everyone has drawn, Bill Hutchison is in possession of the slip of paper which decides the fate of someone in his family. Tessie Hutchison immediately begins to protest the lack of fairness of the menacing process even resorting to requesting her daughter and her spouse be added to the final drawing in hopes of raising the odds, revealing her selfish nature and forcing her to evaluate this procedure.
As the Hutchison family steps to the box a whisper of concern is heard from the crowd prompting Old Man Warner to rebuke “It’s not the way it used to be. ” (218) and “People ain’t the way they used to be. ” illustrating his lack of compassion. As the lottery comes to an end, Tessie is holding the condemning paper in her hand. The crowd, as it moves towards Tessie with stones in hand, provides Tessie’s youngest son pebbles to be cast. An innocent child is now an active participant in the execution building the foundation for his convictions.
Obviously, the purpose of “The Lottery and “The Most Dangerous Game” was to draw attention to the inhumanity of violence and the lack of consciousness individuals have when it come to satisfying personal desires. Conclusion Both stories convey how humanity exhibits a disregard for the life of others. On the surface, General Zaroff and the townspeople appear to be decent individuals but who are, in reality, truly evil; regarding humans as mere objects to be hunted or sacrificed for the satisfaction of a small few. The display of cruel human nature is prevalent in both literary works.
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