25 pages 50 minutes read

Anton Chekhov

The Bet

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1889

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Character Analysis

The Banker

The story is told in the third person but from the point of view of the two protagonists. The banker’s perspective prevails over the lawyer’s. The unnamed banker is extroverted, impulsive, and overly confident. He hosts a party for “intelligent people” in his community, such as “scholars and journalists” (336). He enjoys dinner parties and controversial conversation topics. He’s quick to give his opinion and excitable when others express theirs. He poses a ridiculous bet in a rushed way, confident that he will win. The narrator describes the banker in his youth as “spoiled and light-minded” (337). Later, he mentions “a hotheadedness he could not get rid of even in old age” (339). His rowdy and argumentative personality compels him to bang his fist on the table and shout when he first challenges the lawyer. Older than the lawyer, he attempts to make him come to his senses, but he does so mockingly and condescendingly.

The high-strung and reckless behavior mellows during the 15 years of the story. Conversely, as his wealth declines, “the fearless, confident, proud rich man [turns] into a middling sort of banker, trembling at every rise or fall of the rates” (339).