Complete Short Stories of Maupassant
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The Most Dangerous Game, written by Richard Connell, and A Vendetta, written by Guy de Maupassant, are quite popular and well-known stories which can be considered as the most exciting works of the authors. Both of them are focused on the topic of killing, although the motives and backgrounds of it are different. The plot of each story describes a breathtaking situation that is unlikely to happen every day, but the distinct psychological backgrounds make the stories absolutely real and down-to-earth. There are some features that are similar for each of these stories, although in some principled way, they are different. Thus, the main aim of this paper is to compare the two essays and to identify the main similarities and differences between them.
A Summary of A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant
A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant is an entirely psychological essay, which is based on the story about an old woman avenging of her son. The story is happening on the outskirts of the little Italian town, where the widow lives with her son and a dog. Almost at the beginning of the story, the widow’s son is killed by a man named Nicolas Ravolati. When the woman sees her child stabbed in his chest, she reacts quite unexpectedly as for an old mother. Instead of crying and expressing her pain, she swears, without any hesitation, to kill the murderer.
She shows her strong will by taking her promise very seriously. The author has put it in the following words, “But she had promised, she had sworn on the body” (Maupassant, 2008, p.18), which describes the way the woman felt about her task. Suddenly, she got an idea of how she was going to avenge of her son. With courage of a cold-blooded killer, the old woman was making a plan of preparing her dog Semillante for the revenge. She was starving Semillante for days, and then giving it some food, which it could rip off a dummy’s neck that was made of the old rags and some straw. This kind of tactics trained Semillante to tear the dummy, which resembled the human body, into pieces. Finally the dog was ready, so the widow went to the island where the murderer escaped to. As soon as she saw Nicolas Ravolati, she cried at her dog: “Go, go! Eat him up!” (Maupassant, 2008, p.20). This is how the widow conducted her vendetta, after which she could finally feel that she kept her word.
A Summary of The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell is an impressing adventure story. It starts with a crew of sailors sailing somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. It happens so that Rainsford, one of the members of the crew, accidentally falls out of the ship and gets to an island with the eerie name Ship Trap. He has heard from the sailors that there was something mystical about this island, which he discovers after finding general Zaroff`s house and getting to know his owner. General Zaroff, who seems to be a very hospitable and cheerful host, has a strong passion in his life – hunting. He is attracted to danger, the only thing that gives his life meaning. But after hunting every possible animal, the general got bored of winning all the time, so he found the perfect beast for hunting, which had “courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason” (Connell, 2008, p.23); this target was a human.
Zaroff knows that Rainsford is a famous hunter; therefore, the general offers him to go hunting together. The idea of killing people is revolting for Rainsford; that is why he turns the offer down. As a result, the furious general decides that Rainford can be a worthy human to hunt. The game becomes mortal, but Rainford is smart enough and his will to live is very strong, which helps him to kill Zaroff at the end.
Three Distinctive Qualities of A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant
There are some statements and ideas in A Vendetta, which are contrasting the essay written by Richard Connell. First of all, the Guy de Maupassant’s protagonist is quite distinguishable. The old woman, who found the strength to revenge, has an impressive personality. One of the main features which make her different from Rainsford is her cold mind. She has a well prepared plan that shows her strong intension to avenge. There is nothing else on her mind but to fulfill her promise given on the dead body of her beloved son; “her eyes always fixed on the distant coast of Sardinia” (Maupassant, 2008, p.18), where the son`s murder was hiding. The widow does not rush, but prepares thoroughly by raising a killing machine, her dog Semillante: “for three months she accustomed her to this battle” (Maupassant, 2008, p.19).
Secondly, the widow is very determined; she does not reconsider her vendetta for three months. On the contrary, Connell’s Rainsford has only three days to create and fulfill his plan, and he only does so in order to rescue himself. The woman is very sure in her decision to punish the murderer saying very strong words, which are the leitmotiv of the whole story: “you shall be avenged. Do you hear? It's your mother's promise!” (Maupassant, 2008, p.17).
Thirdly, the style of Maupassant’s writing is very unique and rare. He illustrated the whole story on a few pages with very short, although quite informative, explanations and descriptions. He used a couple of words to say something that took Connell a few pages. Additionally, there are not many dialogues in Maupassant’s essay, which is unlikely for Connell.
Three Distinctive Qualities of The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
First of all, Connell creates a character which is quite different from the rest of the characters in both stories. It is General Zaroff, a person who kills for killing and gets real pleasure from hunting men. There is no other reason for the general but satisfaction, while the rest of the characters who committed the murder had clear reasons. In A Vendetta, Nicolas Ravolati killed the widow’s son after a quarrel, and the widow committed the murder in order to revenge. In The Most Dangerous Game, Rainsford kills the general to protect himself. Meanwhile, even the name of the second story implies that it is just a game for the general: “The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport!” (Connell, 2008, p.35).
Secondly, Rainford seems to be the only person in the two essays who thinks about the moral aspect of killing people. He is disgusted with Zaroff’s offer to hunt people together. For this reason, General Zaroff said: “I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life” (Connell, 2008, p.24). However, the unwillingness to kill a human disappears when Rainford realises that it is the only way to survive. Unlike the rest of the characters, Rainford is forced to kill; it was not his choice.
Thirdly, the ending of Richard Connell’s story was intriguing to the last moment, while it was quite obvious from the very beginning in the story written by Guy de Maupassant. Therefore, Connell managed to make his essay quite puzzled and not easy to predict.
The Similarities between the Two Stories
There is a couple of things the two essays studied have in common. The main similar feature is the protagonists. There is an obvious link between the characters of Guy de Maupassant and Richard Connell – the old widow and General Zaroff. They both have very strong personalities; they are psychologically stable and even sometimes emotionless. Just like the widow was not surprised or mad when she saw her dead son, “she did not cry, but she stayed there for a long time motionless, watching him” (Maupassant, 2008, p.17), the general did not show any sign of surprise when Rainsford turned up in his house. It seems that the general was expecting Rainsford or there was nothing in the world able to impress him. Similarly, the widow did not show her real emotions, even though she was hurt deeply.
Another similarity between the widow and General Zaroff is that neither of them thinks that killing people is against the moral. The woman does not assume that murdering a man in her vendetta can be disapproved by religion. The author shows that she is sure that it is the right thing to do, so she was praying and asking the Lord to support her and “to give to her poor, broken-down body the strength which she needed in order to avenge her son” (Maupassant, 2008, p.18). Likewise, the general talks about hunting people with deep calmness and pleasure, “If I wish to hunt, why should I not?” (Connell, 2008, p.25).
Third similarity is connected to the endings of the stories. Both authors finish their stories abruptly, without describing the process of killing and saying that men were actually murdered. They imply that the men were punished and that the widow and Rainsford completed their tasks. Maupassant (2008) ends A Vendetta by giving a slight hint on how pacified the widow felt after reaching her aim, “At nightfall the old woman was at home again. She slept well that night” (p.20). There is nothing else to be said: she kept the promise given to her dead son. Rainsford manages to kill Zaroff and, exhausted, he falls asleep in the general’s bed. The end of the story shows how hard were the last three days of fighting for his life on the weird little island, “He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided” (Connell, 2008, p.42).
The two stories written by Richard Connell and Guy de Maupassant have a lot in common. The plots of the stories and the characters’ personalities created by the authors have similar features. Also, the endings of the stories are identically laconic and sudden. However, there are some differences, which are mainly about the certain characters. For instance, the reasons to commit a murder, the ways the characters choose to kill, and their ideas about murdering a human are different.