In "The Bet," while listing the things he despises, why does the lawyer put “freedom” ahead of “life and health”?
Between "freedom and life and health," which would be the first wish of a prisoner who has been under rigorous solitary confinement for fifteen continuous years? Most probably, it would be "freedom." Freedom should be the most valuable and significant to him after his years long imprisonment.
But by putting "freedom" ahead of "life and health" in the list of things that he despises, the lawyer wants to make it clear to the banker that even though "freedom" should have been his first wish, he values it least.
This implies that the lawyer no longer wishes to attain anything under the sun, even the ones considered to be of utmost significance to any living man.
The wisdom that he has acquired from intense reading is so great and deep that it has uprooted each of his instinctive desires for anything that binds him to the world.
The wealth of inner peace that he has found has made him so content that even the wish to attain "freedom" appears despicable to him. Why talk about "life," "health" or the prize money of two million roubles? He says,
“... I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage.”