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Historical Context in The Bet

Anton Chekhov (1869–1904) was one of the foremost playwrights and authors of the realism movement, which emerged in France during the nineteenth century. Realist writers rejected the Romantic ideals encapsulated through melodramas and operas. Instead, the new school attempted to reveal the world as it was, without imagination or hyperbole. Chekhov demonstrates this radical shift through his concise storytelling and accurate representation of society. “The Bet,” one of Chekhov’s best-known stories, begins as a story detailing a debate and consequent bet made between two men. However, as the story progresses, it veers into a pragmatic discussion regarding issues of solitary confinement and materiality.

Historical Context Examples in The Bet:

Part I

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"capital punishment..."   (Part I)

The term “capital punishment” refers to the legally permitted, state-endorsed practice of killing someone as punishment for a crime. Throughout its history, Russia has had a complicated relationship with capital punishment. Historians date the first documented act of capital punishment to 1398. From then on—during the reigns of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and Peter the Great in the late 17th and early 18th centuries—capital punishment was used extensively to punish criminals for a variety of illegal acts. Peter the Great’s daughter, the Russian Empress Elizabeth, disapproved of the practice and abolished it in 1754. Later however, the abolishment was appealed and the death penalty continued well into the 20th century. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution in the Soviet Union, shooting criminals was common practice. In 1996, President Boris Yeltsin established a moratorium and in 1999 the Constitutional Court of Russia reaffirmed the moratorium. The last execution in the Russian Federation occurred in 1999 in the Chechen Republic. Currently, capital punishment in Russia is forbidden.

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