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The Bet – Anton Chekov

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The famous short story, ‘The Bet’ written by Anton Chekhov is an amazing piece of art. Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short story writer. Considered as one of the most best writers in the history,Chekhov has made his mark on the sands of time. He has played a very important role in modernizing the theatre. Chekhov was a doctor but equally loved writing. He Said once, “Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress”.
The story begins with  the banker reminiscing  about the  party in which a bet took place nearly fifteen yearsago. A healthy argument takes place in a party, where the men talk about capital punishment. (hang until death) The banker supports the idea of death instead of life imprisonment, since he thinks that pain for one crime is enough than that for the entire life. But a young lawyer thinks life imprisonment is
better,  since we are still alive, and have a hope. The banker henceforth places a bet, under which the lawyer would have to stay 5 years in isolation for 2 million rubles, to which the lawyer says he could stay alone  for 15 years. The banker prepares a lodge for the lawyer near his house, as the lawyer prepares for his forthcoming isolation. There is a guard lest the lawyer tries to escape. The lawyer is  allowed to read books, write, drink wine and tobacco, as well as play music, but he  not allowed to meet or converse with other people. The lawyer agrees to this and goes into solitaryconfinement. In the first year, we can observe that the lawyer suffers from depression and loneliness dueto his isolation. Then he drinks a lot of wine, and thereafter he plays a lot of music.  In his isolation and with nothing to do, the lawyer starts studying more and more, he requests for books. He tries to learn different languages, and  read many other novels. He also prefers complicated love stories in the early years, but in the later years he prefers moreof philosophy, and bible. He studies medicine, chemistry and some of Shakespeare. The lawyer learn slife, and all of its aspects. But, he loses 15 years of his life, which can not be worth any earthly material. During this time, the banker goes bankrupt and henceforth realizes if he loses the bet, he will completely go out of money.

The banker therefore decides to kill off the lawyer, so he doesn’t have to pay the amount of the bet. The banker goes to the lodge in which the lawyer rests, and finds thelawyer, very tired, lying on the table. A note lies beside the body of the lawyer, which reads that the lawyer has learnt the reality of life during hisconfinement, and that money stands no‐where with knowledge. Knowledge to him is more important.He later says that he doesn’t want any money of the bet. The banker is shocked to read this, but he kisses the lawyer’s forehead and leaves the lodge in tears, relieved that he did not have to kill the lawyer. The lawyer  wins the bet and gains  immense knowledge during this period.  The story helps us introspect on   life, and makes a strong point about how knowledge is more important than material gains.

Writing Style 4.9/5

Story : 5/5

 

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About the author

Aniket is a Business Consultant by profession - however his love of books led him to this website, where he posts book reviews and also gets together with new Indian Authors. He can be reached on aniketsitm@gmail.com.

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