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Ironic Examples in "The Bet"

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Brett Grossman Mr. Samonek English III, Period Ah 25 November 2002 Ironic Examples in "The Bet" Irony is the use of words to express something different from, and often opposite to their literal meaning, or a literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. In the short story "The Bet" by Anton Chekov, the author uses irony to make the story more capricious in the banker's decision to kill the prisoner rather than pay him, in the prisoner's decision to repudiate the two million dollars, and in the actual note the prisoner inscribes. One example of irony that is used in the short story, is when the banker decides to kill the prisoner because he cannot meet the expense of the two million dollars. The night before the lawyer is set to be free, the banker is thinking of the things he could do to demolish the bet. "If I do pay him, it is all over with me: I shall be utterly ruined [ . . . ]. The one means of being saved from bankruptcy and disgrace is the death of that man."(Safier 163) ...read more.


The banker is interpretating the lawyer's letter the day before the lawyer is going to be released: "To prove to you in action how I despise all that you live by, I renounce the two millions of which I once dreamed as of paradise and which I now despise. To deprive myself of the right to the money I shall go out from here five minutes before the time fixed, and so break the compact . . . " (Safier 165) The actions shown by the lawyer to deprive himself of the money five minutes before he was about to accept the two million dollars is tremendously ironic. The reader expects the lawyer to withstand for the last hours to make the fifteen years of confinement complete, but what actually happens stuns the reader because after waiting for fifteen years he does not want the money. This is another instance of irony of a situation, because the interpretator/reader does not expect the lawyer to abandon the lodge before his time is up. The last occurrence of irony in the story is in the memorandum the prisoner writes to the banker. ...read more.


The author uses irony in the story when the banker decides to slay the prisoner rather than pay him. When the prisoner decides to give up the two million, and when the actual note the prisoner writes contains the truthfulness of how he was capable to travel outside of the confinement with the books he read. The opening example of irony in the story is when the lawyer decides to kill the banker, even after the whole reason that the bet took place was to prove to the banker that imprisonment was better than the death penalty. The next example of irony in the story is when the prisoner decides to renounce the two millions after the reader thinks that he will hold out for the last hour to get the two million dollars. The concluding example of irony in the story is when the banker actually experience freedom because of the information and intelligence he has gained by being able to read books and travel places with his mind, and the banker feels trapped because of the two million dollars he has to pay the lawyer. The authors literary meanings are not always straightforward thoughts, but this does not mean they are not intended for the reader to observe. Grossman 3 ...read more.

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