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The Most Dangerous Game


Language Arts  


11, 12  

Title – The Most Dangerous Game
By – Melanie Marchand
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Language Arts
Grade Level – 11-12
The Most Dangerous Game – Lesson 5

Short Story Unit Contents:

Purpose: This lesson will focus on setting and how the setting can influence the psyche of a character.

Objectives: When the students have finished this lesson, they:
1. Will be able to define setting.
2. Will have examined different methods that authors use to instil fear in readers.
3. Will give special attention to setting = fear in a creative assignment.

Resources: Short Story, The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell; and movie The Blair Witch Project, released summer 1999, or Hitchcock’s Psycho.

1. Ask what made The Most Dangerous Game frightening, or was it at all?
2. Define setting; talk about it in relation to The Most Dangerous Game. Note that setting can pertain to physical surroundings as well as state of mind (psychological setting). Where is the story set (geographically)? What kind of island is it? What are the buildings like? What is the difference between this island and one like, say, Bermuda? Would the setting be scary if General Zaroff didn’t live on the island? If the island were inhabited, would the story be as scary?
3. Discuss the state of mind of Rainsford before he lands on the island versus that after he meets the General. What is different? (Especially about how he perceives animal feelings.)
4. Talk about how Connell inspires fear without obvious bloodshed/grotesqueness. Hopefully, they will come up with some of the following: isolation, setting, power/powerlessness, conflict, suspense, and control/lack of control.
5. Ask why The Blair Witch Project (or Psycho, depending on which movie you choose to use) was scary. Note that the subtlety/lack of overt violence (left up the observer’s imagination) added to the fear.
6. Draw parallels between the movie and The Most Dangerous Game.

Homework: If you were going to direct the movie The Most Dangerous Game, how would you do it? You are going to pitch your idea to a big-shot Hollywood producer who will decide if they will fund your movie. If they agree to make the movie, you will have an unlimited budget. Pay particular attention to setting. How would you make it as frightening as possible? Who would you cast in the roles? Where would you shoot it? How would you shoot it? Would you have it narrated or would you just have it acted out? Pitch your idea to me on audiotape and hand it in next class.

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