What are three examples of realism in "The Bet" by Chekhov? 

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Realism was a movement in literature which emerged in France in the mid-nineteenth century and sought to "represent events and social conditions as they actually are, without idealization." We see examples of Realism throughout "The Bet" beginning with an "emphasis on the psychological," which is demonstrated through the subject matter. Although the story is driven by a wager, "The Bet" is, ultimately, a story about the psychological impact of spending fifteen years in solitary confinement and whether or not this creates a life worth living. (See the first reference link provided.)

Secondly, in Realist fiction, the characters are motivated by "real-life urges," like greed, and we see this through the character of the lawyer: it is his desire to win two million rubles, for example, which drives the plot of the story. (See the second reference link provided.)

Finally, Chekhov has created characters which have a mix of "good and bad" attributes, in line with Realist principles. The banker, for instance, gives the lawyer the opportunity to back out of the bet early in the story, which is evidence of his good-hearted nature, but his decision to murder the lawyer later on demonstrates his darker side. In this respect, Chekhov's characters are realistic because they are well-rounded. (See the second reference link provided.)