Book Review : The Bet

Leave a comment

30/07/2013 by Siddiqui Fayesal

Book: The Bet
Author: Anton Chekhov
Year: 1889

Anton Chekhov, although a playwright, was no lesser known for his short essays in which he descried a variety of spectrum. “The Bet” was a part of my grade 8 syllabus and since then, it’s been 12 years now, I’ve read it many times. That’s not saying much since it’s a short story and not a “book” per se.

The bet starts off in a dinner hosted by a young banker, boisterous and eager to show off and please, where present is a young lawyer and other intellectuals and sundry capital fellows. The tone of the party sets towards a morbid topic: whether capital punishment is an acceptable form of punishment or not. Some said it’s a gruesome form and that it suited not a catholic people, while some simply said that it was not for humans to take what they couldn’t restore.

The banker chose to take an unexpected turn, not so if you take the crux in focus actually, and said that Capital Punishment was a better way to be dead rather than being imprisoned. One’d be dead at once rather than having his life dragged out slowly. The lawyer differed and lashed out that being alive was better than being dead.

This was where the bet took form. The banker bet 2 million that the lawyer couldn’t live in confinement for 5 years. The lawyer being young and excited got easily carried away and sacrificed his freedom for 15 years instead to prove the hold of his stand.

Anton Chekhov has brought forth the meaning of greed and pride with ease from his short story. The story begins with the banker cursing the lawyer, the bet and himself just a night before the lawyer is set to finish his side of the bet. Chekhov has written what a man can achieve when his will is set for it. Agreed, that the lawyer was there by his wishes but to complete 15 years and not go senile?

Chekhov enlightens, he educates, and he carves the character of the greedy lawyer into a being who is at the other end of the spectrum. The lawyer plays music, learns languages, educates himself on theology and philosophy and medicine and ends up being a wizard. A wise man, albeit not practical people might say. But isn’t practicality only for those who do not look out for morality in business acumen or ignore the dying Sun in the late evening?

There is a letter that the lawyer writes to the banker that I’ve posted here. The story ends, shall we say, with that letter. The Bet is a short essay with a large impact. Perspective is necessary.

But then isn’t it always?

Siddiqui F.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • 11,290 hits

Click! Click! Click!

Join 234 other followers

Jump to…




You will die the way you lived.

Aamil Syed

altered reality

The Mundane

Finding poetry in the ordinary.


...a whole buncha Tian'ness.


book reviews and more...


Indian Book Blogger | Poet | Short Story Writer

Get Out Harish

The world within three walls


لفلسطين الحرية

Murphy's Law

Musings from a Literacy Coach

Literature Is My Porn

"She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live."

Three Magical

Welcome to the inside of my head.

Scattered Brain

Musings about life and politics


Bridge the Gap , Bring the Change

| Ramble On |

And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.

Ashish Shakya

Writer. Stand-Up Comic. Gulab Jamun Enthusiast.

schizophrenic dreams

It is Dark, and I like it that way...


... well we're going to die anyway!

Pulp & Fiction

We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people, all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good. You gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.

reading interrupted.

because reading also involves the way your head rests on your hand as you lean over a book, the damp mark you leave on a page when reading in the tub, or being interrupted by a

--- Grumpy Comments ---



Sharing knowledge benificial for duniya & akhira

Dad, the idiot

anchoring households for thousands of years

Yeha, Whatever

I'll write it anyway.

My Musings

Simply Put....its a conglomeration of my thoughts as & when they occur

%d bloggers like this: