When General Zaroff is first introduced in the story, it appears that he is a civilized person. It is not until you read farther into the story that you begin to see why he is quite the opposite. While having dinner with Rainsford, General Zaroff explains to him that, while he used to hunt big game animals, it had begun to bore him. None of the game provided a challenge to Zaroff anymore. He came up with another way to get the thrill of hunting, while finding something that would keep it interesting and challenging. Zaroff decided to hunt humans.
General Zaroff uses lights to attract ships to his island, where they would crash into the rocks. Zaroff would let those who were stranded in the crash into his home and give them food, clothes, and shelter. Later, they would be taken to his basement, where they would train for the hunt. He does give the refugees the right to refuse to participate in the hunt, which is one reason that he believes it is humane. However, if they choose not to participate, Ivan, Zaroff’s servant, tortures them. Rather than face the torture, most attempt the hunt in the hope they could survive. After Zaroff kills someone on the hunt, he keeps their head in his library as a trophy. Killing people gives Zaroff pleasure, and Ivan’s torture doesn’t bother him, either. In his mind, the wea...
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...ue that this is not something a civilized person would do under normal circumstances, Rainsford did not have a choice. He killed Ivan, Zaroff, and the dog all in self-defense. Zaroff told Rainsford that he could leave the island if he survived the hunt, but this was a lie. If Rainsford was allowed to go, he would tell someone what Zaroff was doing.
Whether or not someone is civilized shows through in more ways than one. Sometimes, their traits and actions can be interpreted differently. What I might consider immoral or uncivilized, someone else may have no problem with. To me, it seemed that Zaroff truly felt that his idea of hunting was not immoral. In the beginning of the story, Rainsford said that the world was split into the hunters and the huntees. Zaroff held a similar position. In his mind, weaker humans are created to give pleasure to those who are powerful.
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