Christian Faith in “The Three Hermits” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”: Comparative Analysis

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The depictions of true Christian faith in “The Three Hermits” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” resemble one another in that God will accept all regardless of who they are and how they choose or choose not to worship. In the three hermits, the hermits pray to God and worship him in the only way they know, with their simple prayer. The Bishop asks how they worship and when they reply, he discredits their prayer and says “'You've obviously heard something about the Holy Trinity, ' he said. 'But you don't pray correctly.” (Tolstoy 170). He then proceeds to teach the hermits the Lord's Prayer. Once the Bishop leaves, the hermits forget the prayer and rush to him to relearn it. The Bishop sees their love for God and realizes that God is accepting regardless of one’s means of prayer. He tells the hermits “'Your own prayer will reach the Lord, O men of God. It is not for me to teach you.. '” (Tolstoy 172).

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In “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, God being accepting and loving to all is seen with Ivan. It is clear that he is not a religious man, seeing as he only calls out to God when asking him why he is sick “He wept over his helplessness, over his terrible loneliness, over the cruelty of people, over the cruelty of God, over the absence of God. ' Why have You done all this? Why have You brought me here? Why, why do You torment me so terribly? ... ' (Tolstoy 83) and only takes communion at his wife’s request. Regardless, with the religious interpretation I took on his death, God is present and loving. This is seen in two instances of his death when Ivan sees the light. “pressed it to his lips, and wept. - Just then Ivan Ilyich fell through, saw light, and it was revealed to him that his life had not been what it ought, but that it could still be rectified. He asked himself what was 'Fight,' and grew still, listening.” (Tolstoy 90). Ivan was seeing the light of God here, although not being close to God, He was still accepting of Ivan and in this sentence, we could see the invitation into His kingdom. “Instead of death, there was light.” (Tolstoy 91). This is a depiction of true faith. Ivan doesn’t describe death as dying, but as light, which the reader can assume to be God’s Light. Although Ivan never explicitly said he was religious and only called out to God when he was angry for his illness, God still led him into the light.

In these two stories, God is accepting of both the three hermits and Ivan regardless if they have proper worshiping tactics or if they worship at all. In “The Three Hermits”, the bishop himself says the hermit's own prayer will reach the lord, even though he previously claimed they were praying incorrectly. In “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, Ivan is obviously not religious but still sees His light and is accepted into his kingdom. These two stories have depictions of true Christian faith and resemble each due to God being accepting of all regardless of their worshiping methods, or no worship at all.

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Christian Faith in “The Three Hermits” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”: Comparative Analysis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
“Christian Faith in “The Three Hermits” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Christian Faith in “The Three Hermits” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
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