Anton Chekhov"s brief story "The Bet" is fundamentally around the definition of life, and also this is the key theme that the story. Chekhov explores what that definition might be, and in stimulate to execute so, he likewise explores other themes, such as crime and also punishment, freedom and imprisonment, and loneliness and also greed.

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Crime and Punishment

The story starts with a group of world at a party pointing out the death penalty and also whether the is a penalty which is "immoral, and unsuitable because that Christian States." several of the guest say, however, the the fatality penalty is "more moral and an ext humane than imprisonment for life." The lawyers case is facility in the sense of crime and punishment, together he has, at least as much as readers know, no committed any kind of crimes. His voluntarily imprisonment is less about punishment and much more about prove a point, and the banker alerts him that voluntary imprisonment will be more an overwhelming to bear than compulsory confinement. Because that a criminal, there is no alternative to provide up and also walk away, and also the imprisonment could represent a higher purpose that atonement. However, for the lawyer, the reward in ~ the end is no salvation, but monetary gain. His situation is not among crime and also punishment, yet rather sacrifice and also reward. This calls into question even if it is the bet deserve to truly be considered an exact measure of even if it is the death penalty or imprisonment for life is an ext humane, together the stakes and also context space vastly different.

Freedom and also Imprisonment

Early in the story a gambling is struck in between a banker and also a young man. The previous bets the last that he will certainly not be able to survive fifteen year in solitary confinement. However, the lawyer can offer up the bet anytime he chooses with no real repercussion outside of forfeiting the money, meaning that he is, in effect, his own jailer. His jail is not literal in the sense that nothing is truly staying clear of him native leaving; instead, his jail is ideological. His own convictions and also his desire for wide range trap that in the bet. His decision come leave at an early stage is no an action of entry or forfeiture, yet rather a declaration that he has actually been freed native the constraints of things such as morality, idealism, and also materialism. His acknowledgment of life as a meaningless veneer has, for better or worse, freed that from the require for money or the have to be proven correct, enabling him to leave his self-imposed prison through no regrets.


The young lawyer accepts the bet due to the fact that he believes the life in any form is much better than death. So certain is the of his convictions that he even adds an extra ten year to the banker"s proposed sentence. If the lawyer to be only concerned with the money, then he would certainly have accepted the initial hatchet of 5 years; his decision to prolong the gambling to fifteen years suggests that his greed is not for product wealth but rather pundit validation.

The definition of Life

Although the male survives the fifteen year without freedom and also without human being interaction, he is reduced to a state virtually indistinguishable from death. He i do not care "a skeleton v the skin drawn tight end his bones" and also a "yellow" confront described together "emaciated." with this image, readers are left to attract their very own ideas around the meaning of life. It appears that the young man has actually survived after ~ a fashion, however has payment a price far greater than also he expected. He has been decreased to a mere covering of a human.

Nonetheless, the young male himself concerns a very different conclusion. He claims that the fifteen year of imprisonment have actually taught him to "despise freedom and also life and also health." the has additionally learned, that says, that life is "worthless, fleeting, illusory and deceptive, favor a mirage." His fifteen years of solitude have actually taught him that life is merely a momentary illusion and that human being would be much better off concentrating their efforts on heaven. Essentially, the points that people value are only constructs, and true value originates from other sources. However, even if it is his bleak see is true or no is up because that debate. The banker "weeps" for the lawyer, out of both guilt for his planned murder and also, perhaps, the end of recognition of his own duty in the young man"s ruin. Ultimately, vice versa, the lawyer is transformed past recognition, the banker is left reasonably unmoved, an ext concerned v protecting his dwindling fortune native "unnecessary talk" than on the ramifications of what has happened.

last Updated on may 14, 2015, by Editorial. Native Count: 794

“The Bet” was written during a duration when Anton Chekhov was significantly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, who simple, didactic story were popular throughout the 1880’s. The design template of “The Bet” is clearly the vanity of person wishes. Before his imprisonment, the young lawyer believes the life on any terms is much better than death. He thinks that he can discover the inner resources to live in solitude for fifteen years, and that the promise of a fortune will certainly sustain him throughout the period of complete leisure in comfortable surroundings. Choose the eighteenth century travelers in search of truth—Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas (from Rasselas, Prince that Abyssinia, 1759), because that example—Chekhov’s captive move from one enthusiasm to another, discarding one by one those sources of human happiness that he is allowed under the regards to his agreement.

that is interesting that the lawyer alternates in between self-indulgence and disciplined study, relocating from irradiate books and music to classic literature, then ago to escape v music and also wine, then to intense study, an initial of the human being world and then of the divine. In ~ the end, Chekhov’s banker observes, he has no direction however strikes out erratically, obviously in search of something, anything, to give meaning to his life.

Unlike many truth-seekers in literature, the lawyer is deprived of human being contact, love, family ties, friendship, and also companionship. During the an initial year, Chekhov writes, the captive is lonely; evidently, solitude is much less depressing throughout the later years. It can be said, however, the his exploration of all person possibilities is incomplete without an suffer of an individual relationships. Chekhov is mindful of that omission and also deals v it in the letter created by the lawyer at the end of his fifteen years alone. Through books, he says, he has experienced all human being pleasures, from human love and the enjoyment of organic beauty to the practice of tyrannical power, and also though his emotional involvements have been vicarious, that believes the he can disapprove them top top the communication of what he has actually learned.

The grounds the the lawyer’s contempt for life, as expressed in the final letter, are several. First, every little thing is empty. Miscellaneous interests critical for various lengths that time, but none deserve to justify a life. Second, all that male considers beautiful is ugly, and also all the he considers true is false; in other words, man have the right to like this world only if that sees it together it is not, and also the captive has actually lost the volume for illusion. Finally, nothing endures; fatality destroys everything and everyone. All is vanity, then, empty, illusory, and doomed.

the is far-ranging that after the sees the shrunken, miserable captive whom he had intended to kill, after the reads the letter denouncing human being existence, the banker feels contempt not for the world yet for himself. Go he feel guilt due to the fact that he has damaged a life? does he feeling shame since he was ready to commit murder fairly than lose his money? Does he feel the the captive has greater ideals than he? Chekhov leaves the banker’s reaction unexplained. The banker, however, is not prepared to renounce life; he locks the keep in mind in his safe as insurance against possible accusations.

one of the difficulties with this story is that the author seems uncertain regarding his theme. Certain Chekhov does not agree with the captive that nothing is worthwhile, although the does realize that no enthusiasm in life seems to be permanent. The fact that Chekhov concludes “The Bet” through the banker’s self-protective gesture suggests that the civilization is not ready to agree through the lawyer. Furthermore, the unnatural illustration of the captive leads reader to think either that life has worn him down much faster than usual or the his life has actually been much harsher than the lives of many people. Is he important wise? Or have actually fifteen year of solitary confinement warped his judgment? Again, Chekhov pipeline the question open.

that Chekhov was uncertain around what the intended come prove in the story, various other than the reality that human reactions space unpredictable, is suggested by the 3rd section of the story, which the omitted in his built up works. In it, at a party a year ~ the prisoner’s escape, the banker is expressing his admiration because that the lawyer, the one male of principle who he has ever encountered. Unexpectedly the lawyer appears, announces his love of life, declares publications a poor substitute, and asks because that a significant sum of money, threatening suicide if that does not obtain it. The banker agrees and then is get rid of by the desire himself to renounce life, but realizing that his life is no longer happy sufficient to do the gesture meaningful, the rejects the impulse and also declares the lawyer the winner of the bet.

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