The Bet

The Price of Life: Chekhov's "The Bet" 9th Grade

Would you accept the offer of two million dollars in exchange for fifteen years of your life? Despite what you may think, some people would accept the offer without thinking twice. The short story "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov perfectly demonstrates that wealth delivers a happiness that only lasts for a fraction of time, while wisdom could last a lifetime. The symbolism employed by the author creates a vivid understanding that wealth is not everything; money without freedom is wealth acquired in vain.

"The Bet" mainly focuses on two characters, the old banker, and the young man. The banker was rich, while the young man was poor, so that each character could serve as a representative of a broad group. During a debate focusing on whether capital punishment is more just than imprisonment for life, the banker bets that the young man cannot stay imprisoned for more than five years in solitary confinement, for two millions, but the young man offers that he could “stay not five, but fifteen years” (Chekhov 89). The man was young, and prideful. He thought that he had found a way to get rich fast without putting worth effort, a decision he would later regret. He of course accepted the bet, believing that “to live anyhow is better than not...

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