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The banker is one of the two characters in the story. The story discusses the change a man undergoes when exiled to solitary confinement, however, it is not the point of view of the prisoner that the story is told from. Chekhov tells the story from the point of view of the banker,who is the one keeping the prisoner. This might due to the fact, that the banker is the one character that has an acute problem that needs to be solved. Fifteen years ago, when he agreed to the bet , he was a rich men with millions to spare, but by the time the bet is due he gambles most of his fortune. The amount he owns to the prisoner accounts for most of his assets, so in order to no to end up broke he contemplates to kill the prisoner and pin the murder on one of his servants. However, when he decides to carry out the deed, he finds a note where the prisoner renounces his reward. This way the banker does not have to kill his prisoner which one hand makes him happy, but on the other hand he also feels contempt because his desire for money made him a wretched human being.
The lawyer is firstly presented a young men who attended the banker's party fifteen years before the story is told. He opposes the banker's arguments in a heated discussion about death penalty vs. imprisonment for life. He argues that if he were in position where he would have to choose between the two, he would definitely pick the imprisonment for life, because a life in confinement is better than no life at all. This opinion encourages the banker to bet the lawyer he would not last in solitary confinement for the period of five years. The lawyer accepts the challenge and prolongs the period to fifteen years. Afterwards he is locked in a lodge, where is not permitted to communicate with people, however he may read whatever he requests in his letters. He spends his time studying topics from numerous academic areas. During the period of his imprisonment he undergoes a massive transformation. In the beginning of the story he is a presented as young man who is willing to sacrifice best fifteen years of his life for two millions, however, at the end he renounces his reward and is satisfied with just proving his point.
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The banker becomes broke, paranoid, and unhappy over the years and the lawyer remains isolated from society: nobody wins from this bet. Both men would have been happier if they had not made the bet in the first place.