Analyze the role that gender plays in the struggle of one or more central characters in "The Bet."

Gender plays a role in the struggle of one or more central characters in "The Bet." The conflict between the banker and the lawyer, both male, is ultimately a conflict of power, which is a trait that society generally favors in men. The banker in particular enjoys his position as an ambitious leader, and his actions reflect these traits which are more often favored in men than in women.

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It's first important to frame the issue of gender by determining which traits society values in men and women and how those traits differ based on gender. According to Pew Research, traits like strength and ambition are particularly valued for men (and not so much for women). The two main characters in "The Bet" are male, and their conflict originates over the need to justify their own opinions, which is ultimately a power struggle.

While engaging in a group discussion regarding capital punishment, the lawyer in "The Bet" states that he believes "it's better to live somehow than not to live at all." It is noted that this statement infuriates the banker, who loses his temper and bangs his fist on the table before calling the lawyer a liar. He immediately bets two million rubles that the lawyer couldn't stay in a cell for five years. Impulsivity, especially in a moment of anger, is often associated with male temperaments. The lawyer furthers this sense of impulsivity when he voluntarily lengthens the terms of his confinement to fifteen years instead of five and for no additional money.

During the dinner conversation that follows, the banker again attempts to assert a sense of power and influence over the lawyer, telling him,

Come to your senses, young roan, before it's too late. Two millions are nothing to me, but you stand to lose three or four of the best years of your life. I say three or four, because you'll never stick it out any longer.

First, the banker wants to be sure that his own financial position is made clear; he has more money than the lawyer and won't be as affected if he loses the bet. Second, he insults the lawyer's sense of resolve and commitment. The banker uses these strategies as a means of asserting himself as a man with greater ambition and strength than the lawyer, which are traits society generally favors in men.

In the end, the banker loses most of his fortune and realizes that if he has to pay the lawyer, he will be financially ruined. Unwilling to be perceived as powerless or a poor leader, the banker conjures up a drastic plan; he decides to murder the lawyer to protect his own financial interests. Traits such as compassion and kindness are not nearly as favored in men; thus, the banker's actions reflect a response that is instead centered in ambition.

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