Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Bet:

Have you read The Bet by Anton Chekhov? It's a short story. At the beginning, the characters are discussing the death penalty and whether it should banned and replaced with life imprisonment as the punishment for murder:
The majority of the guests, among whom were many journalists and intellectual men, disapproved of the death penalty. They considered that form of punishment out of date, immoral, and unsuitable for Christian States.
However, the host of the gathering disagreed. His view was that life imprisonment was crueler because it's a long drawn out form of execution. To prove his point, he offers this bet:
I'll bet you two million you wouldn't stay in solitary confinement for five years."

"If you mean that in earnest," said a young man, "I'll take the bet, but I would stay not five but fifteen years."
And the bet is accepted. The terms of the bet are that the young man can leave confinement at any time, but will forfeit the two million dollars if it is before 15 years have elapsed. Towards the end of the term of confinement, the young man begins to despise god as seen in this passage that he wrote to the supreme deity:
You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth.
I don't understand his logic though or the ending of the story. There's something I'm missing. What do you think it is? You can read it online for yourself at this link.

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