Examine the idea of greed and self-discovery in Anton Chekov's "The Bet".

gsenviro | Student

Anton Chekov's "The Bet" (1889) is a story of a young lawyer and a banker who argue whether life imprisonment is more humane than the death penalty. In order to prove his stance, the young lawyer bets fifteen years of his life against two million rubles. The lawyer spends his fifteen years in solitary confinement, reading books, playing piano, drinking wine and educating himself while the banker's fortunes dwindle. In the end, to avoid paying the bet amount, the banker decides to kill the lawyer, however he finds a note stating that the lawyer has no love left for material possessions and believes knowledge to be the greatest wealth; he has decided to break the bet. Realizing this, the banker feels ashamed and leaves, while the lawyer, as written in his note, leaves the room before time, thus forfeiting his bet's money.

The story clearly shows the lawyer's self-discovery and the banker's greed. One gains knowledge by forsaking the company of others; the other loses money over time. One realizes the true treasure of life, knowledge, and forsakes material comforts; the other attempts to kill the former to sustain his material comforts. Clearly, the story details the self-discovery and greed of the chief protagonists over a period of fifteen years.