Religion In Chekhov And Nietzsche's Philosophies

1445 words - 6 pages

The philosophies that emerged from the age of enlightenment have altered our view of the world. Initially, societies’ knowledge was solely based on the ideas proposed in religious texts. The rise of consumerism made humans place more faith in science than in religion. This proposes severe problems for a society who’s values were all grounded in their beliefs. The ideologies presented in Chekhov and Nietzsche’s texts demonstrate two vastly different conclusions about the potential of humankind. The absence of religion has created a void in society. Chekhov demonstrates the view that all human achievements are ultimately worthless, as humans are fleeting. Nietzsche’s character believes in the power of man and encourages society to become god like and create their own set of morals. The philosophies of such a man is mocked in The Bet. Chekhov’s portrayal of a man’s disappointment with the transient aspect of worldly knowledge is contrasted with Nietzsche’s depiction of a man’s attempt to recreate divinity on earth and govern society based on fabricated morals.
The Bet highlights the flaws associated with placing too much importance on earthly pleasures. The short story begins by a banker reminiscing on a party he threw 15 years ago. The guests at the party are depicted as highly rational and scientific, based on their occupations and the content of their discussions. The banker argues that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment. A lawyer so highly disagrees with this statement that he impulsively makes a bet with the banker that he will stay in solitary confinement for fifteen years, and if successful the banker will award him two million rubbles. The lawyer’s willingness to sacrifice the prime time of his life in order to receive money highlights the control greed has over citizens in a capitalist society. The terms of the bet essentially imply that the money will provoke more joy than a lifetime of freedom. The lawyer endures many years in a secluded lodge in the banker’s garden and undergoes several different stages. In the present day, readers learn that the banker is not longer wealthy and can no longer afford to give away two million rubbles. He breaks into the lodge as the only foreseeable solution would be to kill the lawyer, but is distracted by a letter he finds on the lawyer’s desk. The contents of the letter explain that he will escape and renounce the money in attempt to show his anger and disgust with the illusory and fleeting quality of human life. The characters have ultimately exchanged perspectives, as the banker who was initially vouching for the importance of freedom is now enslaved by greed and is willing to remove another mans life to maintain his own wealth. At first, the lawyer believed that being alive was always better than death, and that imprisonment was a temporary sufferance in the grand scheme of one’s life. Yet, he now hates the world as he realizes how brief it truly is. In the letter, the lawyer...

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