How could Chekhov's writing style be considered ironic in "The Bet"?
"The Bet" is written in the form of a flashback, which allows for dramatic irony at the expense of the lawyer. Dramatic irony most commonly occurs in instances wherein the audience or a reader is privy to a detail within the narrative that the characters themselves are unaware of.
In the case of "The Bet," the action begins with the banker recalling the bet that he made with the lawyer fifteen years prior. Arguing on the subject of capital punishment, the banker had argued that it was preferable to life imprisonment and had wagered a huge sum of money if the lawyer could submit himself to solitary confinement for fifteen years.
The audience becomes ironically aware at this point that not only is the lawyer an inconsequential amount of time away from winning the bet, but the banker's wealth has diminished over the course of the fifteen years, and he is no longer able to securely make good on the bet should he lose.
None of this information, however, is available to the lawyer, who, after having a spiritual epiphany, becomes rueful of the human experience. Intending to kill the lawyer, the banker finds a note wherein the lawyer announces his intention to forfeit the bet. Relieved and a bit guilty, the banker locks the note in his safe.
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