How Greed Shapes Human Nature – Goldium, Grade 11

How Greed Shapes Human Nature – Goldium, Grade 11

How Greed Shapes Human Nature

Greed is a human condition that is very important for people to understand, as when someone has too much greed, they may harm others to achieve what they want. This can be quite dangerous, especially when this human condition gets in the way of one’s core moral values. In the short story, “Lottery Ticket,” by Anton Chekhov,  Ivan, the protagonist, thinks that his wife’s lottery ticket number matches the winning ticket. He becomes ecstatic and daydreams about investing in real estate, paying debts, and travelling. Suddenly, these thoughts of ambition later turn into greed when he worries about how his wife and her relatives would find ways of taking all the money. Because of his thoughts, he suddenly becomes greedy and wants to take all the prize money. Luckily, when Ivan soon realizes their ticket is not the winning number, which subsides his greed. He does not worry about how his wife is going to take away his money anymore since there is no money for anyone to get. The story clearly shows unbridled ambition can easily turn into greed and adversely affect human nature, causing victims of greed to harbour hatred and resentment, to think irrationally, and to become paranoid. 

Greedy people see themselves above other individuals, which leads resentment and hatred to manifest themselves. In the beginning, when Ivan becomes happy after he believes he has won the lottery, he has aspirations of wanting to spend his money to improve his wife and his own quality of life. He tells his wife that “if [the ticket] were mine, I should, first of all, of course, spend twenty-five thousand on real property in the shape of an estate; ten thousand on immediate expenses, new furnishing . . . travelling . . . paying debts, and so on. . . . The other forty thousand I would put in the bank and get interest on it” (Chekhov 3). He shows his thoughtfulness and empathy by sharing how he aspires to spend his money. However, he starts to have feelings of greed, which lead to hatred and resentment. For instance, Ivan thinks that his wife is selfishly going to take the money for herself when “she would shut herself up in the hotel, and not let me out of her sight… I know!” (Chekhov 4). This shows that he suspects that his wife is greedy, even though his suspicions are all in his head. His suspicions about other people’s greed is the root cause of his own greed. Thus, he feels the urge to keep all the money from the lottery ticket. He also impetuously believes that his relatives “are such reptiles!” (Chekhov 5). He harbours hatred for his wife and relatives, disparaging and calling them derogatory names in his head. Thus, his thoughts are no longer health aspirations as they are driven by cynicism and resentment. Ultimately, Ivan’s avarice and greed cause hatred and resentment towards his wife as his thoughts beguile him by convincing him that his wife and closest relatives are villains that are to deprive him of every penny of the prize money. 

Greedy individuals think irrationally and cynically when trying to achieve what they want. When Ivan’s ambitions turn into greed, he thinks that “she would begrudge [him] every farthing” (Chekhov 4). In other words, Ivan suspects and believes that his wife would not care at all about him if she wins the ticket, although this is not necessarily true. This shows that his irrational thoughts are fraught with greed and that his greed is changing his own perceptions of his loved ones. Another example is when he “remembers his own relations, and their faces, […] struck him now as repulsive and hateful” (Chekhov 5). Suddenly, he even believes that his relatives are cynical, selfish, and full of avarice even though his greed is what is changing his beliefs about other people. His greed is blinding him, preventing him to see people as who they truly are. This is an unhealthy perception to have, as loved ones do not usually try to take advantage of other people. Most people love to help other people, especially their loved ones. In this case, Ivan’s greed causes him to think that his loved ones are cynical, distrustful, and cunning.  Furthermore, his greed shows when “he look[s] at his wife, not with a smile now, but with hatred” (Chekhov 5), which proves that his cynicism and irrational thoughts have created this sudden irrational hatred towards his wife. His irrational thoughts are getting out of control, manipulating the way he thinks about other people. Thus, greed influences people’s thoughts and beliefs negatively, often making them irrational and cynical. 

Greed makes individuals paranoid when it becomes unrestrained.  When Ivan’s aspirations turn into greed, he becomes paranoid. He grows paranoid about his relatives and his wife, as he believes that his relatives “would come crawling” when they hear about the winning ticket, and “[whine] like beggars” (Chekhov 5). He believes that everyone is going to take advantage of the prize money. In another instance, he believes that his wife is going to “lock the money up as soon as she gets it” (Chekhov 4). Because of his thoughts, which are now becoming conspiratorial, he is likely to steal and betray his relatives to have the lottery money. This shows a lack of sympathy and compassion for his loved ones. He does not care about how they might feel afterwards, as he thinks his wife is going to forbid Ivan from using the money. Ultimately, greed can spark paranoia and make one suspect one’s loved ones. 

Hatred and resentment, irrational thoughts, and paranoia can easily be caused by a feeling of greed. Greed is a human condition that can be dangerous, as proven in the short story “Lottery Ticket” by Anton Chekhov. When Ivan thinks he has won the lottery ticket, he begins to fantasize about what he is going to do with the money. Suddenly, feelings of ambition turn into greed, and he grows suspicious of everyone around him. He begins hating his loved ones. However, fortunately, when Ivan reads the newspaper again and realizes their lottery ticket number is different from the winning ticket, his resentment subsides. Through the rise and fall of Ivan’s greed in his story, Mr. Chekhov shows that the worst part about greed is that it is uncontrolled. Greedy people do not realize their own feelings, so they do not try to reason with themselves to try not to feel as greedy. Greedy people have no moral compass to center themselves, which leads to decisions and actions that can harm everyone.