How might Chekhov's background and beliefs have influenced his short story "The Bet"?

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thetall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Anton Chekhov came to be known as a very philanthropic person judging by the motives behind his different ventures. He pursued a writing career in order to get his family out of poverty. However, he later decided to continue his writing more for revolutionary purposes than financial gain.

Chekhov's official work was as a medical doctor. He studied medicine under very harsh conditions, having to balance between his education and competing family needs. He completed his education only to discover that the financial gains in medical practice were not as he expected. Despite the meager gains in his practice, Anton offered free medical services to the poor.

His experience and beliefs are well portrayed by the young lawyer in "The Bet" when the lawyer decides to forfeit his prize given his changed beliefs. Like the lawyer in the story, Chekhov devoted his life to what he believed in instead of focusing on his financial status.

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prof-medusa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Chekhov was employed as a physician, but he was also a writer. He was most prolific as a writer when he was in his twenties. It was at this time that he was in medical school and trying to help support his family, so he wrote a ton of stuff--from captions for cartoons in newspapers to short stories and plays. 

"The Bet" was published in 1889 when Chekhov was starting to get popular. Critics were getting kind of irritated with him because most of his writing had no real political stance. The truth of the matter was that Chekhov was really just irritated with philosophy and politics and sought refuge on a remote island called Sakhalin. He journeyed to Sakhalin to avoid urban life (sounds like what the lawyer in "The Bet" ends up doing, right?) in 1890. 

It's safe to say that Chekhov's feelings at the time that "The Bet" was published are a lot like the feelings that the lawyer presents in the short story. Both Chekhov and the lawyer find value in experience and think that the aspects of modern life (including making money) are pretty banal. 

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