In Chekhov's short story, imprisonment is presented in a way that takes life from its individuals. The lawyer is convinced that capital punishment is wrong, and prefers imprisonment for life over death. After his own imprisonment, the lawyer is shown to be a being whose life has been essentially taken from him. The fact that imprisonment can "kill" a person without actually "killing" them is something that Chekhov shows. There is a zest or vitality for life that is no longer present in the lawyer after he serves his time. The fact that that the imprisonment has removed the lawyer's desire for anything and everything, that he "despises" life, shows that imprisonment takes everything from individuals. In this light, death might actually be a release from such a condition. Life and its passion is taken from the individual, making them a hollowed shell of what they were.