Human creation is constantly puzzled by the discovery and purpose of its existence on Earth. One will strive to understand the meaning of life and when found, a person will inevitably work hard to achieve their purpose. In the short story “The Bet”, Anton Chekov displays the true intentions of our existence through displaying a poor lawyer who is willing to do anything for money. At the end of the story, I began to realize that the lawyer is misled to believe that money is essential to life, but comes to the conclusion that other things are of superiority. As the plot unfolds, Chekov depicts the will to resist the temptation of greed, understanding the value of human life, and knowledge as the true ambitions of existence.
First of all, the lawyer shows greed when he accepts the bet with the banker. This acceptance is a foolish act by the lawyer for he believes the value of the money won in the bet will pay for 15 years of imprisonment. Instead, he experiences loneliness and depression in his solitary confinement and realizes that there are more ambitions to life than money. As the lawyer states, “I renounce the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which I now despise” (Chekhov, 5). It is clear that the lawyer’s imprisonment helped him to understand that money is not a great objective to our existence, but the temptation of greed which can test the strength of a person. From the lawyer’s experience, I realized that the will to withstand greediness is a real-life lesson, which helps us to look beyond materialistic possessions and focus on more important things in life. Secondly, Chekhov displays the understanding of the value of life without wasting it as a true ambition in life.
God offers us the gift of life so that we can live to follow him. At the beginning, the lawyer did not understand the importance of his life because he willingly sacrifices 15 years in confinement for the bet. As the banker questions, “What was the object of the bet? What is the good of that man’s losing fifteen years of his life?” (Chekhov, 2). It isevident that the banker already understands the value of life but questions the lawyer’s perspective. At the end of the story, the lawyer starts to recognize that the value of a human life is immeasurable and outweighs the value of money. From the lawyer’s experience, I was enlightened that one can resist the temptation of money and find greater value in freedom of life. Finally, Chekhov demonstrates knowledge as an important life ambition that we gain throughout our life.
At first, the lawyer did not show a considerate amount of knowledge for he carelessly acted in accepting a bet without considering his losses. In his 15 years of solitary confinement, the lawyer gains huge amounts of knowledge that helps him to reach a great level of human intelligence. As the lawyer states, “Your books have given me wisdom. All that the unresting thought of man has created in the ages in compressed into a small compass in my brain. I know I am wiser than all of you” (Chekhov, 5). As shown, the lawyer passes all expectations with his gained wisdom and turns down the two million dollars.
He shows the banker that money and material things do not matter because he has the knowledge that will help him carry through life. Anton Chekhov has enlightened that knowledge is a gift, which we must work hard to achieve it on our own. In conclusion, Anton Chekhov illustrates the essential values, which are constantly misjudged. The power to resist greed, appreciate the value of life and knowledge are the true ambitions in life, shown through the lawyer’s experience and gain. One must work hard to achieve such qualities, as they help us realize the importance of our existence on earth.
Chekov, Anton . The Bet.