In the following paragraphs, a brief summary of both stories will be given. I will be discussing why the lawyer renounces the money. Then, I will be analyzing what this abandonment tells us about the lawyer’s worldview in comparison to that of the Madman.
In his short story, “The bet”, Chekhov veils a pessimistic worldview with the uprise of wisdom of a lawyer whom makes a bet with a banker to prove that life imprisonment is better than death penalty. The bet conducted involved the lawyer to be imprisoned for 15 years with no outside world contact. Through these 15 years, the antagonist undergoes a major transformation. Chekhov leaves it up to the reader to consider the meaning of the Lawyer’s transformation since the reader has barely any insight on what the lawyer is actually going through in his mind during his confinement.
During his incarceration, the lawyer eagerly reads an incredible amount of books about philosophy, language and history. After 6 years, he sends a letter to the banker revealing how he presumes that he is divine and beyond the earthly; he considers himself as a figure of god. The following years, he was seeking the meaning of life through any type of book from natural sciences to Shakespeare, in vain. In his final year, he writes a letter to the banker and declares that he “[despises] freedom and life and health, and all that in [the banker’s books calls] the good things of the world” (page 3 and 4, Chekhov). In that matter, he renounces the two million that he once dreamt of. ...
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.... Similarly to communism, people would cease seeking for money. Rather, they would be doing what they love to do. By doing so, it would add some meaning to life or, more specifically, would hide the fact that mankind has destroyed the god.
In short, both writers convey a similar message, that capitalism has destroyed the god but have a different point of view on the final outcome. Chekhov has a rather pessimistic worldview and offers no solution to the damage done. He gives up on the world and does not even try to make a change. This portrays with no doubt that capitalism was fatal to god in his point of view. On the other hand, Nietzsche has an optimistic worldview. Although he believes god is forever gone, hope is still present. He suggests that people live to make themselves happy as it would cover up the wounds which capitalism has done to the quality of life.
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