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Anton Chekhov, Guy de Maupassant, and Leo Tolstoy

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    The short story of Anton Chekhov, Guy de Maupassant, and Leo Tolstoy’s all share a common theme. In Anton Chekhov’s “The Bet” a man out of his own greed spends fifteen years in a cell by himself, with no contact with the outside world. In Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The False Gems,” a man learns of his wife’s infidelities, and becomes greedy with the money that he receives. Finally in “How Much Land Does a Man Need? ” by Leo Tolstoy a man dies from his own greed. All of the following stories share a common theme of greed, something that no man can resist. The Bet” is a story that forces you to understand how dangerous greed can actually be. The story starts off with a group of men having a dinner party. The argument of capital punishment versus imprisonment for life is brought up. The banker, who is the host, believes that capital punishment is the morally right thing to do. He says. “I have not tried either the death penalty or imprisonment for life, but if one may judge a priori, the death penalty is more moral and more humane than imprisonment for life. Capital punishment kills a man at once, but lifelong imprisonment kills him slowly.

    Which executioner is the more humane, he who kills you in a few minutes or he who drags the life out of you in the course of many years? ” (Chekhov, 1). However at the dinner is a lawyer who strongly disagrees with this statement. He goes on to say, “”The death sentence and the life sentence are equally immoral, but if I had to choose between the death penalty and imprisonment for life, I would certainly choose the second. To live anyhow is better than not at all. ” (1). When this is said the banker starts an argument and makes a bet with him and says, “”It’s not true!

    I’ll bet you two millions you wouldn’t stay in solitary confinement for five years. ” (1) However the lawyer wanted to seem like he was better, so he raised the bet to fifteen years in solitary confinement. The years went on and the lawyer stayed true to his bet. However the banker was losing all of his money and entering bankruptcy. He knew that if he paid the two million, he would become completely broke. He came up with the plan that he was going to kill the lawyer, so he would not have to pay him.

    It was the night before the fifteen years was over, and the banker entered the lawyer’s room. When he did he found a letter written by the lawyer stating that he did not want the money. This story shows you that a man will do anything to avoid the consequences that they might have to face. The banker was willing to kill his own friend, to avoid going through with the bet that he agreed to. Both men in the story were greedy. The lawyer was willing to give up fifteen years of his life, for 2 million dollars. He also wanted to one up the banker by making it fifteen years instead of five years.

    The banker was greedy because he let his own friend give up fifteen years of his life, just to prove himself right. He was also greedy by deciding to kill him, because he knew that he did not have enough money to pay the lawyer, so instead of facing his consequences, he was going to take someone’s life. In the story “The False Gems,” a man is faced with a life changing decision. The story begins with the description of a woman that every man seems to desire. He story says “The young girl was a perfect type of the virtuous woman in whose hands every sensible young man dreams of one day intrusting his happiness.

    Her simple beauty had the charm of angelic modesty, and the imperceptible smile which constantly hovered about the lips seemed to be the reflection of a pure and lovely soul. Her praises resounded on every side. ” (Maupassant, 1) The narrator also mentions her love of theater, and irritation jewels. She would always bring home jewels, that the husband always thought looked cheap, because everyone knew there was no way that they could afford real jewels. The woman soon dies, leaving her husband in deep mourning. He soon becomes broke, and wonders how his wife could afford the things that she does.

    He thinks to himself and says, “He wondered how she could have managed to buy such excellent wine and the rare delicacies which he could no longer procure with his modest resources. ” (2) Then he remembers the jewelry that she had brought home. He assumed it would bring him a little bit of money, however not a lot. He brought it into a jeweler, who told him, “”Well, I sold it for twenty thousand francs. I am willing to take it back for eighteen thousand. ” (3) When the man figured this out he had to wonder how his wife could have received such fine jewelry. Then he igured out that she had been cheating on him, and that was the only way that she could have gotten all of that jewelry. He then sold all of her jewelry for a grand total of one hundred and forty three thousand franks. He then began to brag about all of the money that he had received, and then bragged about all of it. He also quit his job. He first tells people that he is worth two hundred thousand francs, then three hundred thousand, then finally four hundred thousand. The story ends with him marring 6 months after this, to a woman that causes him great sorrow.

    The man became greedy with all of the money that he received. He lost all of his money then gained a lot of it back, then felt the need to lie about how much he had. He also married someone that he clearly did not love, and only six months after the death of the wife that he says he loved with all of his heart. In the final story, “How Much Land Does a Man Need? ” a man dies from his own greed. In the beginning of the story a two sisters are fighting over who has the better lifestyle, that of a peasant, or someone of higher status. The sisters say,” “I would not change my way of life for yours,” said she. We may live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb, ‘Loss and gain are brothers twain. ‘ It often happens that people who are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is safer. Though a peasant’s life is not a fat one, it is a long one. We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat. ” (Tolstoy, 1). However the other sister says, “”Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves!

    What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man may slave, you will die as you are living–on a dung heap–and your children the same. ” (1) During this whole argument, the peasant husband over hears this, and the devil. The peasant husband says that he would not get greedy if he had land. When the devil hears this, he gets a lady to grant land to the man. He soon meets an Indian tribe who is wealthy. They tell the man that he can have as much land that he can cover by walking in one day as long as he returns to his original starting point. When he does this he does not return in dies.

    The final quote of the story was, “His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed. ” (9) This story shows that a man will die just to get something that he wants, but does not need. He got greedy and thought that he would be able to earn a lot of land. He ended up dying, when he already had everything that he needed. All of the above stories show you the consequences of greed. It can be dangerous without you knowing. You can try to avoid it, but it is something that you cannot resist.

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