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Hyperboles in "The Most Dangerous Game"


General Zaroff, the ruthless antagonist of Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," uses hyperbole to split mankind. "God makes some men poets ... me he made a hunter," says the general, as if he could be or do nothing else. "I have but one passion in life," he declares. Connell's exaggerated prose seems normal coming from an obsessed Cossack who casually elaborates, "My whole life has been one prolonged hunt."

Dividing Men Into Types

The resourceful protagonist, Sanger Rainsford, indulges in hyperbole that sounds remarkably like Zaroff's: "the world is ... hunters and huntees." When Zaroff hunts Rainsford as human prey, Rainsford leaves a complicated trail and hyperbolically congratulates himself: "The devil himself could not follow [him]." As Zaroff pursues Rainsford, Connell's hyperbole is more explicit: "Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror."

Reducing Men to Animals

Hyperbole, according to the Literary Devices website, is used to overemphasize the crux of an idea. In Connell's adventure tale, hyperbole reduces men to categories, to devils and to animals. By story's end, Rainsford confronts Zaroff as a hyperbolic animal: "I am ... a beast at bay."

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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