What are the implications of the lawyer's ultimate fate in "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov?

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skyey-i | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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The solitary confinement has brought about a complete change in the lawyer. From a daring young man eager to make millions of rubles, he has changed into a middle-aged self-content ascetic whom material wealth no more lures. He seems to have found some superior knowledge supposedly restricted to saints and enlightened beings.

It is this knowledge that enables him to renounce the banker’s two million rubles. This is the sum of money for which he has staked the invaluable fifteen years of his life.

The foremost implication of the lawyer’s final fate is the change in the banker. We are introduced to the banker as a man who is “spoilt and frivolous, with millions beyond his reckoning.” He has always led a hedonistic life and frittered away millions by “desperate gambling on the Stock Exchange.”

However, we are positively surprised when we see him kissing the lawyer’s hand with tears in his eyes. He can’t be the profligate banker whom we know; something has drastically changed in him.

His tears don’t stop even when he is on his bed. He keeps on crying for hours that night. The banker is full of repentance and self-reproach. He must be despising himself for having thought to murder a pious man like the lawyer.

We’re not told if the banker decides to give up gambling and his self-indulgent lifestyle nor if he’s going to do a lot of charity thereafter. However, his self contempt and strong sense of guilt do make us believe that he’s not going to be the same man as he has been so far. We are convinced that this is going to have far-reaching implications in his attitude. We are hopeful of a spiritual regeneration in him.

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