In the story "The Bet", by Anton Chekhov, who is a better character and why?

Expert Answers
Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before I answer your question or you decide it yourself, I would like to touch upon some of the important facets of both the lawyer and the banker.

At the beginning, we know the lawyer as an ambitious and daring young man who doesn’t hesitate to take up a seemingly impossible challenge to become a millionaire.

On the other hand, there’s the banker who is “spoilt” has got “millions beyond his reckoning.” He’s so rich and conceited that he announces an award of two million rubles during a heated debate in a party called by him.

The most interesting thing about both of them is the fact that each of them develops with the course of the action.

The change in the lawyer is way beyond our expectations. He really surprises us when he announces his renunciation of the prize money. The reason he gives is:

“It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage.”

We are filled with admiration and respect for him when he leaves the banker’s house just minutes before he could have owned the whopping prize money. He relinquishes it with choice.

On the other hand, we hate the banker when we see him preparing to murder the saintly lawyer in order to avoid parting with his money. However, our dislike for him is short-lived. Having read the lawyer’s letter, the banker breaks into tears and is overwhelmed with self-reproach.

This transformation do arouses our sympathy for him. Though not much is said how deeply the banker is influenced, yet we do believe that he is going to be a changed man from now on.

Thus, it’s doubtless that the lawyer is a much stronger character. By dint of his endurance and profuse reading, he acquires some of those rare qualities that make one saint. The banker too wins our sympathy with his unstoppable tears – a proof of his self regret.

Having said this I do believe that now it won’t take you much time to decide who is a better character, the lawyer or the banker.