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"The Bet" by Anton Chekhov: Character Analysis of the Prisoner

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"The Bet" by Anton Chekhov: Character Analysis of the Prisoner

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  • May 6, 2006
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Wow! 7,883,995 minutes sure is a long time to spend in solitary confinement, and then not even hang around for the final five minutes to reclaim your prize. The title of this story is "The Bet", and is written by Anton Chekhov. In this story, a man takes part in a bet for two million dollars, under the conditions that he stays in solitary confinement for fifteen years. The man, whom we come to know as "the prisoner", stays in confinement for almost fifteen years when, with only five minutes remaining, he renounces his quest for the two million dollars. In his fifteen years of solitude, the prisoner has come to the realization that money is of no significance in comparison to the knowledge he has gained through his studies, and to prove this, he leaves just before he can claim his prize. In this story, the prisoner is persistent, intelligent, and self-motivating. These characteristics help the reader come to terms with the decision the prisoner reveals in the end.

At the outset, we find that a primary characteristic of the prisoner is persistence. In his final letter to the jailer (the man with whom he has made the bet), the prisoner writes "Tomorrow at twelve o'clock I regain my freedom and the right to associate with other men..." This quote proves that the prisoner is persistent in that he perseveres fifteen years of solitary confinement. Fifteen years! Fifteen years without associating with another human being. Fifteen years of seclusion, with only his books, music, and wine to occupy his time. It is evident the prisoner has persistence to be able to endure under these circumstances for such an extensive period of time.

Subsequently, we find that another primary characteristic of the prisoner is his display of intelligence. In his final letter to the jailer, the prisoner writes "To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two million of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which now I despise." This quote proves the...