Leo Tolstoy

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Christina Allen
English 2
7 February 2011
The short story of Anton Chekhov, Guy de Maupassant, and Leo Tolstoy’s all share a common theme. In Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet” a man out of his own greed spends fifteen years in a cell by himself, with no contact with the outside world. In Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The False Gems,” a man learns of his wife’s infidelities, and becomes greedy with the money that he receives. Finally in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy a man dies from his own greed. All of the following stories share a common theme of greed, something that no man can resist.

“The Bet” is a story that forces you to understand how dangerous greed can actually be. The story starts off with a group of men having a dinner party. The argument of capital punishment versus imprisonment for life is brought up. The banker, who is the host, believes that capital punishment is the morally right thing to do. He says. “I have not tried either the death penalty or imprisonment for life, but if one may judge a priori, the death penalty is more moral and more humane than imprisonment for life. Capital punishment kills a man at once, but lifelong imprisonment kills him slowly. Which executioner is the more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years?” (Chekhov, 1). However at the dinner is a lawyer who strongly disagrees with this statement. He goes on to say, “"The death sentence and the life sentence are equally immoral, but if I had to choose between the death penalty and imprisonment for life, I would certainly choose the second. To live anyhow is better than not at all." (1). When this is said the banker starts an argument and makes a bet with him and says, “"It's not true! I'll bet you two millions you wouldn't stay in solitary confinement for five years." (1) However the lawyer wanted to seem like he was better, so he raised the bet to fifteen years in solitary...
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