How do you interpret the letter of the lawyer?To me it seems very ambiguous, see even contradictory.

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, the letter is ambiguous and contradictory, but even more so, it is self-righteous and ethereal.  By isolating himself for 15 years and "living" through books, the lawyer has gained a rather skewed world view.  At one point, he criticizes mankind by writing,

"You are mad, and gone the wrong way. You take falsehood for truth and ugliness for beauty. . . . I do not want to understand you."

Possibly because of his 15 years away from mankind, the lawyer fails to realize that he is one of those whom he criticizes.  By simply reading, does he truly know what is falsehood and what is truth?  He neglects to realize that humans wrote the books he toiled over during his confinement, and those men (who represent truth for him) were part of society.

In the last paragraph of his letter, the lawyer declares,

"That I may show you in deed my contempt for that by which you live, I waive the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise, and which I now despise. That I may deprive myself of my right to them, I shall come out from here five minutes before the stipulated term, and
thus shall violate the agreement."

Here, he implies that he entered the bet mainly because he wanted the money, but he has again forgotten that at the beginning of the story he believes that life itself is precious, and he does not seem to care how he lives as long as he lives.  After 15 years of "living," he asserts in his letter that he despises freedom and life.