In the short story, “The Bet” by Anton Chekhov, the banker and the lawyer had different opinions to the merits of capital punishment. To prove his point, the banker bet the lawyer two million dollars that he could not stay in solitary confinement for fifteen years. The lawyer left his cell five minutes before the stipulated time. In the literal sense, the banker won. However, the real winner was the lawyer.
It can be argued that capital punishment is immoral and unjust. At the same time, life imprisonment is also argued as immoral and unjust punishment. The lawyer spent fifteen years by himself to show that life imprisonment was not unjust. In his experience, the lawyer became more understanding of the world, nature, and life. He read many books and studied numerous languages. In a note to the banker, the lawyer wrote, “Your books have given me wisdom…I know that I am wiser than all of you.”
The lawyer proceeded to say, “I depise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illustory, and deceptive…” The lawyer left his cell early to prove the point that he depised all that the world lived by. He did this in action and therefore did not receive the two million dollars. He proved that he gained wisdom which is more powerful than money.
The banker won the bet in the literal sense because he did not have to pay the lawyer. During the lawyers time in jail, the banker gambled all of his money in the stock market and he did not have the two million dollars. Morally, the banker lost the bet because he reached such a low point, that he even contemplated killing. The banker regreted that he ever made the bet. The bet affected his happiness and his day to day life.
The lawyer wrote, “I marvel at you who exchage heaven for earth. I don’t want to undersatnd you.” This proved that the lawyer would choose death over life alone. In this sense, the lawyer did win the bet.