The Bet By Anton Chekhov

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In high school I read a short story called The Bet by Anton Chekhov. The story was about a young lawyer who made a bet with a banker that imprisonment for fifteen years was better than the death penalty. Like Socrates in Plato’s Crito the lawyer was trying to challenge society’s beliefs. While in confinement the lawyer read many books, whose subjects ranged from languages to philosophy. After fifteen years of solitary confinement the lawyer rejects his prize money and defaults on the bet, hours before winning. I wonder if the man had read the Crito. We can reason that Socrates’ could have inspired the man to decide to pick the more brash choice to try and teach his accusers a lesson. The man may have decided to default on the bet when he was so close to winning because he wished to make the lesson the banker learned more memorable and infinite. In the Crito even though Socrates thinks himself to be innocent of the charges brought against him he still refuses to escape prison when presented with the opportunity. This helps him teach his final lesson about the principles he believes are worth dying for. His principles are that the opinion of the many is unimportant, his life is not worth living with a corrupt soul, life is not as important as living justly, the only consideration to take into account is justice, and acting unjustly is always bad and shameful. Even though Socrates and the polis or laws arrive at the same conclusion that Socrates should not escape prison, the
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