The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast two fictional stories. The intent is to find out to what extent these stories relate to real life situations. The paper will explore the issues discussed in these stories as well as the characters. The stories chosen are The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connel and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. The two stories explore the injustices meted out on humans by fellow human beings. They try to show the inherent evil in many or all people. They are a perfect representation of the human life in the society and the injustices they carry out against each other. Though the stories are fictional, the ideas presented take place in real life situation in the society although not the same as they happen in the stories.
- Overview of the story The Lottery
- Overview of the story The Most Dangerous Game
- Themes in the stories
- Characters in the stories
- The point of view
The story The Lottery is a story of a tradition that involves a game of lottery where the winner is killed in a ritual killing. In this story, children are seen going around the town collecting stones at the town square. The activity, as well as the town’s people, appears harmless. The unfolding of events is what makes the story appear diabolic. There is no more innocence as people kill each other for no reason at all other than an outdated ritual that cannot be explained. The people of the town are seen focusing on a funny looking black box. In the box are hand-made paper slips that are part of the lottery. The author presents a notion that the villagers cannot explain the origin of the lottery even though they work hard to preserve the tradition that is outdated and a cause of the murder of many in the village. It is as if the villagers are powerless and hence cannot change. The results of this tradition are ritual murder of innocent people. One of the characters, an old man by the name Warner, who is very faithful to the ritual, has fears that if the villagers were to abandon the tradition of the lottery, they would return to primitive ways.
The killing of the people during the lottery is random. The winner of the lottery wins an ultimate prize that is being stoned. The victims have committed no crime other than picking the wrong slip from the lottery box. Every villager, including the children, has an equal chance of being the victim of this heinous act. Tessie Hutchinson, a housewife, and the main character becomes a victim of the lottery game. She loses her identity and instantly becomes marked when she picks the wrong paper. Everybody, including family and friend, enthusiastically participate in killing her by stoning (Sparknotes).
The Most Dangerous Game, on the other hand, presents two men who are involved in the game hunt. These are Rainsford and Zaroff. Bored by hunting game, Zaroff looks for a more exciting game, that of hunting humans. It is at this stage that Rainsford becomes one of the hunted. He has to set traps for the hunter, Zaroff. Rainsford is disgusted by Zaroff’s game of hunting men. He looks at it as murder. To Zaroff, the game of hunting is similar to war, and it indeed gives him much pleasure but sees nothing wrong with it.
Towards the end of the story, Rainsford is somehow proven to be a greater hunter. It appears as if he has unfortunately been converted to a man hunter. He concludes by indicating that he slept in Zaroff’s bed, meaning that he has become like him.
Both stories explore the theme of inherent evil in human beings. It is as if all humans are bent towards evil. They explore the themes of selfishness, cruelty, and violence (SparkNotes). Both stories are characterized with the murder of other human beings for no reason at all. While Zaroff’s, in The Most Dangerous Game, killing of humans is a game, probably, in Zaroff’s opinion, the same as game hunt in The Lottery, the killing of humans is a ritual based on an archaic tradition. In both stories, innocent people die from seemingly innocent activities.
The characters in the stories are barbaric people who have no regard for human life. They can kill quickly without flinching. Zaroff and Rainsford are the main characters in The Most Dangerous Game, with Zaroff being presented as the villain while Rainsford is the protagonist. In the Lottery, Tessie is the main character. The rest of the villagers are the villains. They attempt to preserve a tradition that has no basis leading to the death of many people through ritual killings. An old man represents the minds of the villages by the name Warner who feels that abandoning the lottery ritual would result in a return to primitive ways by the villagers, yet the act of the lottery in itself appears to be the most primitive. The situations in the two stories represent the irony of life.
The point of view
The Lottery is told in the third person narrator. The narrator is, therefore, unknown and is probably an observer of unfolding events. On the other hand, The Most Dangerous Game uses the first person narrator with the main character, Rainsford being the one telling the story.
The stories present real life situations where innocent people are killed from seemingly innocent practices. Some murders, even though not appearing as criminal activities, cannot be explained. They are indeed a representation of archaic people and practices of people who find pleasure in doing evil. They show the inherent evil in human beings.