Portrayal of Real Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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The book “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, written by Leo Tolstoy, is a remarkable story for the simple fact of showing life how it is. The author carefully changed the point of view, and therefore the feelings and attitudes of the characters. He used emotions to show his perspective about having shallow values and it turns out that at the end of life, money and status are nothing but mere emptiness in the human soul. By reading the novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, written by Leo Tolstoy we can understand his intelligent analysis of the bourgeoisie society and how superficial they were, by analyzing the various points of view of his characters.

During the old times of Russia, the bourgeoisie was the highest part of the society, they felt superior and acted like it. They would only care about somebody else’s feelings, as long as they have money and status. Ivan Ilyich was a part of this elite and throughout his whole life according to the Communist Manifesto “In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, and slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.” what made them feel superior.

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As long as the story continues, Ivan Ilyich has the opportunity to change multiple times, but without realizing what he was doing and the fakeness in his life, he couldn’t change who he was. The job changed, his relationship with his family was more superficial than ever, he moved out of his house and it was time to decorate it. Ivan knew that something differed, but not necessarily wrong, it took him a while to notice. His body was in pain, his thoughts were running through his head, and he did not understand what was going on. Death. That was the answer.

'Now I must apply for my brother-in-law's transfer from Kaluga,' thought Peter Ivanovich. 'My wife will be very glad, and then she won't be able to say that I never do anything for her relations.'. This is Peter Ivanovich, Ivan Ilyich’s supposed best friend. He was the walking form of superficiality and soul emptiness. To even think about taking advantage of a dead body is cruel. Notwithstanding his thoughts, his actions were thoughtful and he appears to be a good friend, but what you see it is not always what you get.

Praskovya Fedorovna. 'Oh, terribly! He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours. For the last three days, he screamed incessantly. It was unendurable. I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off. Oh, what I have suffered!”. She was the beloved wife and allegedly the love of Ivan’s life, except she was not. To be married was a necessary thing then, however, to be with somebody just for the pleasure of having company and everything you want is self-torture.

Her bitter soul always had the needfulness of full-time attention, that is why she forevermore played the victim for pithiness.

“It's God's will. We shall all come to it someday,' said Gerasim. His butler was surprisingly the most pragmatic person in the entire book. Ivan’s last moments while alive were reflexive and he seemed to care more about life and feelings than status, but since it was the end of everything, it was useless to re-do all of the old days. Gerasim was always there for Ivan, he was true to his disease and dignity. More than just shower or feed Ivan, a real friend, that was he was turning into. Ivan only realized to have a bad life because of Gerasim and he will forever be grateful for that.

“Ivan Ilyich's life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore terrible”. Overall the last chapters, Ivan started to think how he affected his family’s life and for a person who seemed to be unstoppable and better than everyone, he was scared of the end. His death was coming along to the feeling of guilt.

He even started to think about the meaning of life and how fast it could end, but as it were his last moments he passed through some stages of acception. Everything he looked at seemed to mean something, the most important metaphor from the book was the candle reproducing life and death, represented by light and darkness respectively.

'When I am not, what will there be? There will be nothing. Then where shall I be when I am no more? Can this be death? No, I don't want to!' He jumped up and tried to light the candle, felt for it with trembling hands, dropped the candle and candlestick on the floor, and fell back on his pillow. 'What's the use? It makes no difference,' he said to himself, staring with wide-open eyes into the darkness. 'Death. Yes, death. And none of them knows or wishes to know it, and they have no pity for me.”

In conclusion, we can get that life is too precious for us to waste it in minimum values. Through the book, we can get that society is capable of the cruelty to demand us to behave like not our true selves, most importantly, have the ignorance to avoid our issues, pretending to be perfect or something that we are not. Every and each character represent some flaw of humankind, commonly known as capital sins. Praskovya Fedorovna represents avarice because she could only be with Ivan as long as he had money. Peter Ivanovich was the envy by cause of the big necessity to always have a good status quo, which even cost him taking advantage of his best friend. Ivan Ilyich was pride, he constantly felt superior and even too good to die. Lisa was the luxury, she waited for her father's death to get married. That is why the book shows the reality, even if we do not see it.

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Portrayal of Real Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/portrayal-of-real-life-in-the-death-of-ivan-ilyich/
“Portrayal of Real Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/portrayal-of-real-life-in-the-death-of-ivan-ilyich/
Portrayal of Real Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/portrayal-of-real-life-in-the-death-of-ivan-ilyich/> [Accessed 22 Jun. 2024].
Portrayal of Real Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Jun 22]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/portrayal-of-real-life-in-the-death-of-ivan-ilyich/
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