The Bet Anton Chekhov SETTING Set in Russia in 1885 Autumn Party at the Banker’s estate Lodge where the young lawyer resided on the Banker’s property CHARACTERS 1. The Old Banker Spoiled and frivolous Places a bet with the Young Lawyer concerning an argument over capital punishment 2. Young Lawyer 25 years old Would rather choose life in prison over death Takes the Banker’s bet THE BET The Young Lawyer must live isolated for 15 years with no human contact Live in the lodge on the Banker’s property Can have books, food, wine, mail, etc. Cannot see or talk to anyone Plot Exposition/Basic Situation Banker introduced as the main character Dark autumn night Remembers the dinner party he had given 15 years ago Flashback interrupts the story Plot Flashback Dinner party Autumn Disagreement arises over the use of capital Punishment Leads to the bet between the Banker and Lawyer Lawyer accepts the bet Plot Flashback • Year 1: loneliness and depression/ constantly played the piano/refused wine and tobacco • Year 2: No piano/ asked for the classics • Year 5: music again/ ate/ drank wine/lay in his bed Plot Flashback • Year 6: studied languages, philosophy, and history • Year 10: sat immovably at the table and read only the Gospels, theology, histories of religion • Last 2 years: read immense quantities of natural sciences, Shakespeare, Bryon, and medicine Plot Rising Action/Complications Banker remembers how he gambled his millions Realizes the lawyer has won the bet, but he has no money to be able to pay Climax Banker goes to the lodge late at night with the intention of killing the lawyer Plot Falling Action Finds the lawyer face down asleep Discovers and reads the letter Returns to the house Is informed by the watchmen that the lawyer had left Denouement/Resolution Takes the letter from the table and locks it up in a fireproof safe CONFLICTS Elemental: Capital punishment more immoral vs. life imprisonment more immoral Internal: The prisoner – the meaning of his life vs. his desire for money Internal: The Banker – desire to kill the lawyer vs. paying the bet POINT OF VIEW 3rd Person Limited The story is told from the Banker’s thoughts and feelings. The narrator is outside the story. 3rd person pronouns are used. THEME Consider theme from the perspective of both characters and what they struggled with in the story and how they handled their conflicts. Lawyer: Freedom and social interaction are essential human needs. Banker: Earthly accomplishments are worthless in the face of death. OTHER ELEMENTS Situational Irony: The lawyer has spent his entire imprisonment gaining knowledge and wisdom, but as a result has lost his capacity for hope and no longer sees any use for knowledge and wisdom. TECHNIQUES USED Flashback – interrupting the present action in a story to show earlier events and is triggered by the present event.
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