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ICSE - X - English

The lawyer moved beyond materialism to spiritualism in 15 years, but the banker remained what he was and perhaps became worse. Discuss the statement in the light of the story "The Bet"

Asked by Shara 10th June 2016, 9:07 PM
Answered by Expert


The Bet is a short story by Anton Chekhov about a young lawyer and a banker who enter into a bet to prove themselves right with regard to capital punishment and solitary confinement.

The lawyer is of the opinion that life imprisonment is a milder punishment than death penalty, and in order to prove himself right, to spend 15 years alone in the banker’s garden lodge on the condition that the latter will pay him two million. The banker on the other hand strongly believes that a person cannot stay for a long time, and is sure that the lawyer will lose the bet. However, it so happens that the lawyer, after an initial struggle with loneliness, starts spending his time in the confinement fruitfully. As he is allowed to read and write, he throws himself into learning new things. The lawyer reads voraciously and writes about his experiences as a lonely prisoner in the banker’s lodge. Although he cannot go out or have a conversation with anyone, he imagines about the characters and places of the books that he reads. He learns new languages, masters philosophy and theology among other disciplines, and also tries his hand at natural sciences and literature.

From a young and an impatient lawyer who bet his life for two million, the lawyer becomes an enlightened being wanting to renounce worldly pleasures including his two million, thus proving his point right. However, the fear of losing his two million drives the financially unstable banker to almost plot the lawyer’s murder making him dishonest and a loser. Even after fifteen years, the banker is still attached to materialistic pleasures and fails to see how the lawyer’s life has changed positively.  

Answered by Expert 12th June 2016, 9:08 AM

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