Anton Chekhov"s short story "The Bet" is fundamentally around the an interpretation of life, and also this is the main theme that the story. Chekhov explores what that an interpretation might be, and in stimulate to execute so, he also explores other themes, such together crime and punishment, freedom and imprisonment, and also loneliness and also greed.

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Crime and Punishment

The story begins with a team of human being at a party discussing the fatality penalty and also whether the is a punishment which is "immoral, and unsuitable because that Christian States." several of the guest say, however, that the fatality penalty is "more moral and more humane 보다 imprisonment for life." The lawyers instance is facility in the sense of crime and also punishment, as he has, at the very least as much as readers know, not committed any crimes. His voluntarily imprisonment is less about punishment and more about proving a point, and also the banker warns him the voluntary imprisonment will certainly be more challenging to bear 보다 compulsory confinement. Because that a criminal, there is no choice to offer up and also walk away, and also the imprisonment could represent a higher purpose the atonement. However, for the lawyer, the reward at the end is no salvation, but monetary gain. His situation is not among crime and punishment, yet rather sacrifice and reward. This calls into question even if it is the bet can truly be considered specific measure of even if it is the death penalty or imprisonment for life is much more humane, together the stakes and also context are vastly different.

Freedom and Imprisonment

Early in the story a gambling is struck between a banker and also a young man. The previous bets the latter that he will certainly not be able to survive fifteen years in solitary confinement. However, the lawyer can give up the gambling anytime the chooses through no real consequence outside of forfeiting the money, meaning that he is, in effect, his very own jailer. His prison is not literal in the sense that nothing is truly preventing him from leaving; instead, his jail is ideological. His own convictions and also his desire for riches trap the in the bet. His decision to leave at an early stage is no an act of entry or forfeiture, yet rather a declaration that he has actually been freed native the constraints of points such as morality, idealism, and materialism. His recognition of life together a meaningless veneer has, for much better or worse, freed the from the need for money or the have to be proven correct, allowing him to leave his self-imposed prison v no regrets.


The young lawyer accepts the bet because he believes that life in any type is better than death. So certain is that of his convictions that he also adds an extra ten years to the banker"s suggest sentence. If the lawyer to be only concerned with the money, then he would certainly have accepted the initial ax of 5 years; his decision to extend the gambling to fifteen years argues that his greed is no for material wealth but rather intellectual validation.

The meaning of Life

Although the male survives the fifteen year without freedom and also without human being interaction, the is reduced to a state virtually indistinguishable indigenous death. He becomes "a skeleton through the skin drawn tight over his bones" and also a "yellow" confront described as "emaciated." through this image, readers space left to draw their very own ideas about the definition of life. It seems that the young man has survived ~ a fashion, however has payment a price much greater than even he expected. He has been diminished to a mere shell of a human.

Nonetheless, the young man himself comes to a really different conclusion. He says that the fifteen years of imprisonment have taught him come "despise freedom and also life and health." the has likewise learned, that says, the life is "worthless, fleeting, illusory and deceptive, prefer a mirage." His fifteen years of solitude have actually taught him that life is merely a short-lived illusion and that people would be better off concentrating their efforts on heaven. Essentially, the points that civilization value are only constructs, and also true value originates from other sources. However, whether his bleak view is true or not is up for debate. The banker "weeps" because that the lawyer, out of both guilt because that his plan murder and also also, perhaps, out of acknowledgment of his own duty in the young man"s ruin. Ultimately, vice versa, the lawyer is transformed beyond recognition, the banker is left fairly unmoved, more concerned v protecting his dwindling fortune native "unnecessary talk" than on the ramifications of what has actually happened.

last Updated on might 14, 2015, through Editorial. Indigenous Count: 794

“The Bet” was written during a duration when Anton Chekhov was substantially influenced through Leo Tolstoy, who simple, didactic tales were popular during the 1880’s. The layout of “The Bet” is plainly the vanity of human wishes. Before his imprisonment, the young lawyer believes the life on any kind of terms is much better than death. The thinks the he can uncover the inner sources to live in solitude because that fifteen years, and that the promise the a fortune will sustain him during the duration of complete recreation in comfortable surroundings. Like the eighteenth century travelers searching for truth—Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas (from Rasselas, Prince the Abyssinia, 1759), because that example—Chekhov’s captive move from one enthusiasm to another, discarding one through one those sources of person happiness that he is permitted under the terms of his agreement.

the is exciting that the lawyer alternates in between self-indulgence and disciplined study, moving from light books and music to classical literature, then ago to escape with music and also wine, climate to extreme study, very first of the human world and also then that the divine. In ~ the end, Chekhov’s banker observes, he has actually no direction however strikes out erratically, obviously searching for something, anything, to give meaning to his life.

Unlike most truth-seekers in literature, the lawyer is deprived of human contact, love, family members ties, friendship, and companionship. During the very first year, Chekhov writes, the captive is lonely; evidently, solitude is much less depressing throughout the later on years. It could be said, however, the his expedition of all human being possibilities is incomplete without an suffer of an individual relationships. Chekhov is mindful of that omission and deals v it in the letter created by the lawyer at the finish of his fifteen years alone. V books, that says, he has actually experienced all human pleasures, from human being love and the enjoyment of natural beauty to the practice of dilute power, and also though his emotional involvements have actually been vicarious, the believes that he can refuse them ~ above the basis of what he has actually learned.

The grounds of the lawyer’s contempt because that life, together expressed in the last letter, room several. First, whatever is empty. Various interests last for various lengths the time, yet none can justify a life. Second, every that man considers beautiful is ugly, and also all that he considers true is false; in various other words, man can like this people only if he sees it as it is not, and also the captive has lost the capacity for illusion. Finally, nothing endures; fatality destroys everything and also everyone. Every is vanity, then, empty, illusory, and also doomed.

it is far-ranging that after the sees the shrunken, miserable captive who he had intended come kill, after that reads the letter denouncing human existence, the banker feels contempt not for the world however for himself. Does he feel guilt because he has destroyed a life? go he feeling shame since he was ready to commit murder quite than shed his money? Does he feel the the captive has greater ideals than he? Chekhov pipeline the banker’s reaction unexplained. The banker, however, is not ready to renounce life; he locks the keep in mind in his safe as insurance against feasible accusations.

one of the troubles 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 he does realize the no enthusiasm in life appears to it is in permanent. The fact that Chekhov concludes “The Bet” through the banker’s self-protective gesture argues that the human being is not all set to agree through the lawyer. Furthermore, the unnatural appearance of the captive leads reader to think either that life has actually worn him down much quicker than normal or the his life has actually been lot harsher than the lives of many people. Is he important wise? Or have fifteen year of solitary confinement warped his judgment? Again, Chekhov pipeline the inquiry open.

the Chekhov to be uncertain around what he intended come prove in the story, various other than the reality that human reactions room unpredictable, is suggested by the third section of the story, which the omitted in his collected works. In it, at a party a year after the prisoner’s escape, the banker is expressing his admiration because that the lawyer, the one man of principle who he has ever before encountered. All of sudden the lawyer appears, announces his love that life, declares books a bad substitute, and also asks for a significant sum the money, threatening self-destruction if the does not get it. The banker agrees and also then is get over by the desire self to renounce life, but realizing the his life is no longer happy sufficient to make the gesture meaningful, he rejects the impulse and declares the lawyer the winner that the bet.

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