The Death Of Ivan Ilych Essay

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The Death Of Ivan Ilych Essay



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The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy - In-Depth Summary \u0026 Analysis

As social creatures, humans have the need to identify themselves as one of a group, whether that group is a family, a culture, or a religion. Ivan Ilych is dead. His death is hardly what one would call "mourned", and his family and friends think only of how they can profit from his timely demise. He has led a terrible life, and suffered through a generally meaningless existence. During the story, Ivan's character is revealed in several different ways: firstly, Tolstoy uses The Death of Ivan Ilyich to show his readers the negative consequences of living as Ilyich did.

Ivan Ilyich made decisions based on what others thought and what would benefit him monetarily. As death approaches, Ilyich realizes that This character is representative of the mediocrity of the middle class. He is able to become part of the upper-middle class and, at the end of the struggle, loses his life. He comes to know at the time of his death that he has led a conformist and ordinary life and feels regrets for it. He has been following materialistic pursuits and suffers in the end for this mistake. He, like other human beings, has felt as if he is a special person, but this myth is shattered when he suffers.

He, like the rest of human beings, has been deluded by the faulty concept of a happy life, which he realizes when at his deathbed, he comes to know the meaning of happiness. In his illness, he is shown thinking about his past life, and this makes the readers realize the usual human dilemma. Throughout the novella, her focus is on outward appearance. She wants to be part of the upper-middle-class of Russia and struggles for it. Her personality is shallow, and she is concerned with acceptance, and her motive is improving her status. Fashion and material things are her obsession. She, like other characters, is a typical materialistic person. He is a kind person and takes care of his master when there is none left kind to him.

He is a true person among deceitful and fake people. He is an example of honesty and kindness. He is the source of support and comfort for Ivan during his illness. He shows kindness because he is a believer and has a firm belief that he will die one day. He, in contrast to others, thinks about the consequences and prefers to be kind and help others. He is not a self-absorbed person, and this allows him to help others and think about their miseries. He is an example of a perfect peasant. He is a clean, pleasant person.

If seen from a critical eye, he is a stereotype. He is an embodiment of goodness and shows no flaws, thus seems a non-human character. She is well-educated, fair, and attractive. She, like her mother, is attracted to pomp and money. He is about thirteen years old school-going boy and is like his father in his youth. He is an innocent child and loves his father unconditionally. From his appearance, it is evident that sadness is corroding his health. He is in his early youth and is not yet corrupted by materialism in society. He is the only person in the family for whom Ivan feels compassion during his illness. In the form of this character, the author has shown innocence in the form of childhood, which is later corrupted by society.

He can also be seen as a connection between young and grownup Ivan Ilych. We can also infer from it that he is also headed in the direction in which his father went, showing general misery. He leaves his friend when he is in need. They have too many things in common, like their taste for the game of bridge, desires to progress in life, etc. He represents a false world and is unkind. He fails to grasp the fact that he is mortal and engages in materialistic affairs thoughtlessly. He can also be seen as a foil for Ilych because they are much less different from each other.

He is selfish and pays heed to what is pleasant to him. He represents a typical Russian bourgeoisie. His role is mere as an appendage to Lisa. Schwartz is an employee at court and fond of fun and games. He arranges Bridge at his home and invites friends to play there. He is the person who irritates Ivan in his office by his jokes and good-humor during his days of illness. He, like Peter, prefers promotion to friends. He comes to visit Ivan when he is ill but talks about legal cases that disturb him. Ivan thinks that he was the representative of all the falseness in the world. He is the primary doctor whom Ivan visits. He is like a typical businessman, not a doctor who takes patients as cases, not as human beings. The main theme in this novella is the inevitability of death.

Throughout the story, we are told about the impending death of Ivan Ilych; his thoughts stay focused on this fact. This novella explores the phenomenon of death and tells how people avoid thinking about it. It is a natural phenomenon relevant to life, but people try to avoid it and distract its thoughts. It is evidently shown in the character of Ivan, who tries to get rid of the thoughts of death, which haunt his mind. People busy themselves with different things in life, and it is done solely to hide from death. But whenever these screens are broken, death is standing in front of them.

It is an undeniable reality, and there is nothing to be done to it except acceptance. Fear is the factor that creates a horrible image of death, and if it is changed, death is not that terrible as people think. Every person belonging to these classes leads his life to fulfill these expectations. These beliefs make people pretend and erase their original identity. For every situation, there is a mask, and they change it constantly. This creates a situation in which people lose their original human identity and become types. In the case of Ivan, he tries to break this web of deceits, which is wounded around the lives of people of these classes.

In aristocratic classes, there is less acceptability towards natural human impulses. There is decorum and expected behavior, which determines the lifestyle of people belonging to this class. In this novella, we see that the main character and his family are addicted to materialism and acquisitiveness. This family is upward striving and is careful regarding the etiquette. This expected behavior makes them almost inhuman, and when Ivan falls ill, there is nobody to sympathize with him except his servant Gerasim. This concept of acceptability creates many problems that make life miserable, and this is the message which the author has tried to convey. Suffering is a motif which is shown constantly throughout the novella.

We see the protagonist going through it all his life. He suffers during his first job and then his second job as well. He is shown suffering in his married life. In the end comes his illness, which is unmatched suffering in his life and takes him with it. Human life is filled with miseries and suffering, and this is the fact that made Buddha leave his kingdom. Sufferings can only be avoided in life if they are intentionally imposed on oneself. Suffering brings with it fear, hopelessness, sense of meaninglessness, and loneliness. But it is not that bad because it is what brings redemption. Religion is not given a place in the foreground in The Death of Ivan Ilych; rather, it is present in the background.

It was the work that Tolstoy wrote after his religious conversion, and it may be taken as an impact of it. He gave up his belief for a new one, and in it, there was no necessary demonstration required everywhere. Most of the scholars see the transformation of Ilych as a result of the vision, and his contentedness with the idea of death reveals the importance of religion. Religion is meant to fulfill the emotional needs of human beings and redeem them, and this is the message which the author implicitly conveys in this novella. It is a critique of those who have made religion a business and run their churches as if it is a marketplace.

In this novella, Tolstoy supports the belief that with modernization, human beings lose their human qualities. This is evident in the case of doctors who are arrogant, deceptive, useless, and unsympathetic. Tolstoy attacks the modernist field of medicine, which progresses with every passing day. It is the result of growing distances between human beings.

We see that Ivan fears death, and due to this fear, he isolates himself from society and his family. He then comes to realize that this isolation will help him meditate about his life, and as a result, he is blessed with redemption. Thus isolation is both misery and blessing in his life. This novella is an attack on the class system, especially the middle class in Russian society. To Tolstoy, the class represents greed, selfishness, artificiality, pettiness, and many other evils. He shows all the miseries and ills brought by the class system. At the time of his terminal illness, Ivan is not ready to accept that he is dying.

Though it takes time and is painful to accept that he is dying, ultimately, he is able to think about it. He accepts mortality, and as a result, he is freed from the agony and terror that people usually associate with life. He comes to know that things around him in his life are like artificial trappings. He clearly sees that there is falseness that covers him from all sides, and he tries to get rid of it.

At the end of his life, he is able to experience the vision that he has seen and enjoys death. So from this, we can infer that if we accept miseries and prepare ourselves mentally for it, there will be redemption to protect us from our fears. The Death of Ivan Ilych is an allegorical novella that tells about the ills of modern Russian society. In the character of Ivan Ilych, we see the dilemma of every modern progressive man who wants to make his name. This novella shows all the people in society who are driven by materialistic desires and ruining human relationships.

It covers the collective life of society and the eventual death using an individual reflecting the traits of common people in society. The order of the novella is reverse chronological, and it relates the story when Ilych falls ill till his death with backdrops of his early life. This novella is aimed to show the artificial nature and fragility of the life human beings live, thus circumscribing the ironies in life. For its portrayal of high-class Russian life, this novel can be named as one of the masterpieces of realist literature. This novella is a work of realist, satirical fiction in which ironies of the then Russian society are exposed.

It parodies the false beliefs and struggles for progress from one class to another. It shows the cost of promotion from one class to another and shows what one has to lose to move from one social class to another. It also shows the consequences of the efforts made for this purpose. It is a romanticized, ordinary life. These people live an ordinary, unremarkable life and for this reason, essentially die unremarkable. There are rudimentary forms of psychological realism in this novel as the author tries to relate the inner thoughts of the characters.

It is a satire and despises the pretenses. The author has shown the pettiness and humorousness of the character through their follies. Ivan begins introspection on his life — an analysis of the justification of his suffering. As he is convinced of the propriety of his life, he can find no reasons. All you have lived for and still live for is falsehood and deception, hiding life and death from you. Having estranged his wife, he turns to his son Vasya for sympathy. But gradually from physical sickness and fear of death he descends to a life of hallucinations and nightmares.

In Freudian analysis his dream about being forcibly pushed into a black sack is an expression of his unconscious fear and disgust with the conventional straight-jacket which he refuses to fit into. This nightmare torments him more as he fails to grasp its significance. In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he not accustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it…. At certain moments after prolonged suffering he wished most of all though he would have been ashamed to confess it for someone to pity him as a sick child is pitied. Now a spark of hope flashes up, then a sea of despair rages, and always pain; always pain, always despair, and always the same.

And every moment he felt that despite all his efforts he was drawing nearer and nearer to what terrified him. He felt that his agony was due to his being thrust into that black hole and still more to his not being able to get right into it. He was hindered from getting into it by his conviction that his life had been a good one. That very justification of his life held him fast and prevented his moving forward, and it caused him most torment of all. He gropes in a nihilistic world with no positive values to cling to or depend on. It is void people create when they refuse to believe in any significance or moral values for human life.

As a philosophical position, it is often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who defined it as an alternately lamentable and potentially fruitful condition. As a philosophy it rejects the real world around us and physical existence along with it and results in apathy toward life and a poisoning of the human soul. A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. It fosters a very negative view of life as it argues that the world, past and current human existence, is without objective meaning and purpose.

It is mostly used in the pejorative sense to denigrate a particular idea, movement, or group, than it is an actual philosophical position. From his introspection he comes to the conclusion, like William Wordsworth, that man loses his happiness as he grows up which explains why the childhood is the happiest time. But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed — none of them except the first recollections of childhood. Next his dream about fitting into the sack develops into a tug-of—war business. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false.

It seems that the symptoms of all his mental and physical pain are outward expression of his inner turmoil. At this moment of enlightenment Ivan realizes the vanity of his false life and feels sorry for his alienated wife and children. The ending of the this short fiction in despair, depression and death give the impression of nihilism. Though Tolstoy has adopted the simple narrative of a fable, he shows considerable insight into the complexity of human relationship.

In old age he turned an ascetic and held sexual relationship as a source of suffering. Like the modern John Gray he might have agreed with the view that men are from Mars and women from Venus. She began to be jealous without any cause, expected him to devote his whole attention to her, found fault with everything, and made coarse and ill-mannered scenes. His wife became more and more querulous and ill-tempered, but the attitude Ivan Ilych had adopted towards his home life rendered him almost impervious to her grumbling.

And this irritated her against him still more. Ivan Ilych felt that this opinion escaped her involuntarily — but that did not make it easier for him. I am sorry for papa, but why should we be tortured? Tolstoy disliked the modern culture of sick hurry and divided aims. He also believes that the hero of his tale is truth. At a late stage in his life he gave up fiction writing to devote himself for the moral and ethical uplift of mankind.

As a writer he belongs more to the world than to a particular country. Through the tragedy of Ivan he shows the folly of the rat race and its adverse effect on the family happiness and also how a conscientious man can redeem himself. His observations on life are of great significance.

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