What are some examples of imagery and/or figurative language found in "The Bet," by Anton Chekov?

Expert Answers
ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, let's make sure we have the same definitions working between us.

Imagery: words and phrases used that appeal to the readers sense of touch, taste, smell, and sight.

Figurative language: comparing one thing to something else that it usually isn't compared to.

OK...with those definitions in mind, let's take a look, shall we?


  1. "he struck the table with his fist and shouted at the young man" (kind of a weak image relating to sound, and kind of a nice visual image with the fist)
  2. "The sounds of the piano could be heard continually day and night from his lodge." (again, kind of a weak sound image)
  3. "trying to save his life by greedily clutching first at one spar and then at another." (greedily clutching appeals to touch)
  4.  "Cursed bet!" muttered the old man," (again, sound)
  5. "nothing could be heard outside but the rustling of the chilled trees" (sound)
  6. "A damp cutting wind was racing about the garden, howling and giving the trees no rest." (sound, visual, and touch)
  7. "Then he groped his way into a little passage" (touch)
  8.  "A candle was burning dimly in the prisoner's room. He was sitting at the table. Nothing could be seen but his back, the hair on his head, and his hands. Open books were lying on the table, on the two easy-chairs, and on the carpet near the table." (visual)
  9. "For fifteen years I have been intently studying earthly life. It is true I have not seen the earth nor men, but in your books I have drunk fragrant wine, I have sung songs, I have hunted stags and wild boars in the forests, have loved women ... Beauties as ethereal as clouds, created by the magic of your poets and geniuses, have visited me at night, and have whispered in my ears wonderful tales that have set my brain in a whirl. In your books I have climbed to the peaks of Elburz and Mont Blanc, and from there I have seen the sun rise and have watched it at evening flood the sky, the ocean, and the mountain-tops with gold and crimson. I have watched from there the lightning flashing over my head and cleaving the storm-clouds. I have seen green forests, fields, rivers, lakes, towns. I have heard the singing of the sirens, and the strains of the shepherd's pipes; I have touched the wings of comely devils who flew down to converse with me of God ... In your books I have flung myself into the bottomless pit, performed miracles, slain, burned towns, preached new religions, conquered whole kingdoms ..."  (this is the mother-lode.  Everything you could want is in here but I'll let you dig it out.)

So there you go...some examples, though many more exist.  Now let's look at the figurative langauge part of your question:

  1. "His reading suggested a man swimming in the sea among the wreckage of his ship, and trying to save his life by greedily clutching first at one spar and then at another." (I am not sure if it is the best one, but a comparison is being made)
  2.  "He was a skeleton with the skin drawn tight over his bones," (this is a good metaphore.)
  3. "Beauties as ethereal as clouds,"


So there are some examples of "poetic comparisons."  There are more, but hopefully these will get you thinking along the right track!