The Bet

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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"The Bet" By Anton Chekhov The debate among about life imprisonment virus's capital punishment has been fought long and hard. This argument takes place here in this story where two men are having a lively discussion about which is more humane, life imprisonment or capital punishment. The one who chooses life imprisonment is the lawyer. The banker is against this and chooses death. The banker is so sure that no one would lose their life to imprisonment rather then end it all quickly. The banker, so confident, makes the bet with the lawyer staking two million rubles that he couldn't sacrifice his freedom for his belief and stay confined by himself for fifteen years.

The banker being so confident thinks no one would lose fifteen years of his or her life for so much money. In the beginning the banker disagrees with the people who say that the death penalty is out of date.

He tells them "capital punishment kills a man at once, but life long imprisonment kills him slowly." The banker feels that a quick death will relieve of the pain and he wouldn't have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life. The banker believes that losing ones life to imprisonment is frivolous and stupid. Money is nothing to him "two million's a trifle, but you are losing three or fours of the best years of your life." The banker is too rapped up in money to see that it isn't always the answer. The banker would rather be dead then be imprisoned and sees it as humane as possible. "Which is more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?" The banker is caught up in his world of money and greed and sees if he has nothing life isn't worth living. He thinks it is better to not feel the pain at all then to become a better person from it.

The banker later in life changes his mind about the death penalty after losing his money and sees that he can live without money. The banker learns that money doesn't make up his life and that living confined doesn't help a man become better. "What is the good of a man losing fifteen years of his life and my throwing away two million?" one of the reasons the banker thought it to be foolish was because he had nothing good to live for. He sees the uselessness in the bet and cant see why would except it. The banker caught in his thoughts reads the letter by the lawyer and starts to change his views on life. "I renounce the two millions of which I dreamed of...I shall go out from here before the time fixed." The banker changes his views on imprisonment after reading the letter. It shows him his own greed and selfishness and he changes for the better. The banker didn't have a reason to love life till after reading the wise words of the lawyer. "Even after he lost on the stock exchange had he felt so great a contempt for himself." This shows that all a person needs to do to change is to read the words of a wise man and he will be better. The banker did this and saw all the good in which he cold do or have.

The banker not having money gains back his hope after he sees the light. The banker lost all but enough money to pay the bet through the stock exchange. He knows this will leave him a poor man. "He will take my last penny from me... while I look at him like a beggar." The banker would rather kill the lawyer then to lose what he has left to some stupid bet. He is so caught up in his money that he would rather die then be poor. The banker loses all his hope about his money and thinks the only way to say himself to kill the lawyer. The letter changed all this. "Even when he had lost on the stock exchange had he felt so great a contempt for himself." The banker learns that money isn't everything. He learns how money only shields man from the world around him and leaves him helpless and weak. In the end the banker is finally realizing that he has taken the wrong path. He reads the letter "You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path." The lawyer tells it how it is and how man has his way and how its caught up in money. He explains to the banker that he is wiser by being away from what the outside world brings.

In the beginning the banker sees life imprisonment is worse then death. He would rather die then be confined for life and not be able to have his money. In the end the banker changes because of what the lawyer states in his letter. This totally changes the banker to see that money isn't everything and that everything isn't money. The banker gains a new look on life and its all because a wise man once said.