In "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov, why was the bet considered "wild and senseless?"
It is the banker who, after the passage of fifteen years, thinks of the original bet as wild and senseless.
And this wild, senseless bet was carried out!
It is wild and senseless on the banker's part because he is putting up two million rubles against nothing. There is no quid pro quo. If the lawyer defaults on his part of the agreement and leaves his confinement before the fifteen-year term is up, then the banker gains nothing, and he is out the expense of providing for the lawyer for whatever time he spends in solitary comfort in the banker's guest lodge. On the other hand, if the lawyer sticks it out for fifteen years, the banker loses two million rubles. When the story opens that sum of money means a great deal to the aging man. If he pays the lawyer he will be ruined. He is seriously considering murdering his prisoner, thereby becoming a murderer and a scoundrel at the same time.
Fifteen years before, his millions had been beyond his reckoning; now he was afraid to ask himself which were greater, his debts or his assets. Desperate gambling on the Stock Exchange, wild speculation and the excitability which he could not get over even in advancing years, had by degrees led to the decline of his fortune and the proud, fearless, self-confident millionaire had become a banker of middling rank, trembling at every rise and fall in his investments.
On the lawyer's part, he is giving up the best years of his life on the chance of making a fortune. If he decides he can't stand the solitude and vacates the lodge voluntarily, he will have lost years of his life for nothing. If he stays there for the full fifteen years, he will have won two million rubles, but in effect he will have sold fifteen years of...
(The entire section contains 627 words.)
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