Russian Revolution in The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Analytical Essay

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“There are two things you should never waste your time on Things that don’t matter and people that think you don’t matter” this is a quote of Ziad K. Abdelnour and we can see an example of this when reading, ”The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” is one of the greatest books in Russian literature, it is about the death of an aristocrat that starts to discover about the falseness of the bourgeoisie of the early XX century. Ivan Ilyich is suffering from an illness and started to see the real intentions of his family and friends, discovering they are fake and do not care about him, just about his status and money. Reading Tolstoy’s novella, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” it is not possible to see the hidden meanings at first, but when reading again, it is possible to see in a profound manner, through the application of inference, the real purpose of this book, which is to show the bourgeoisie of this period, who are represented in the Communist Manifesto, as a shallow, oppressive and egotistical class.

In the first place, nobody helps him when he is ill but Gerasim, and even after his death, the people keep being annoyed that they were wasting their time with his funeral, and a perfect example of these people is Peter Ivanovich, who is happy of Ivan’s death, because it is a chance for him to get work for his brother in law, as we see in this part: '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.'. Another example of this false friendship is when Peter was relieved that who died was Ivan not him.“Each one thought or felt, 'Well, he's dead but I'm alive!'. Ivan’s so-called friend was even “tired” to go to his funeral, and wanted to stay at home for his usual nap as we can see in the following excerpt: “Peter Ivanovich sacrificed his usual nap, put on his evening clothes and drove to Ivan Ilyich's house.” All these examples show how the bourgeoisie of this period had relationships based just on interests and wealth.

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Another person that is interested just on Ivan’s status and wealth was his wife, Praskovya Fedorovna, she was happy for the fact that her husband was dying, to get all his money. Like we can see in this following excerpt, she was very superficial and shallow, and blamed her husband for almost anything even how he furnishes the house: Praskovya Fedorovna blamed her husband for every inconvenience they encountered in their new home.” Also, she always tried to discourage him repeatedly saying he was going to die, consuming his hope: “Exaggerating! Don't you see it? Why he's a dead man! Look at his eyes — there's no life in them. But what is it that is wrong with him?'. Another example of their relationship is this: “ He would call the footman, but his daughter or wife would come to help him. They would not agree, and his wife would contradict him, and he would dispute and grow angry.’’ where we can clearly see that they argue all the time, even when he is ill and almost dead they argue for stupid things.

In contrast to Praskovya and Peter who were false and wanted just Ivan’s wealth and status, we have Gerasim, a worker that is not false and truly helped Ivan. Gerasim is the only one who really cares about Ivan and helped him to get better, so Ivan sees him as a real friend, as we see in this part: ”Gerasim went up to him, grasped his master with his strong arms deftly but gently, in the same way, that he stepped — lifted him, supported him with one hand, and with the other drew up his trousers and would have set him down again, but Ivan Ilyich asked to be led to the sofa. Gerasim, without any effort and without apparent pressure, led him, almost lifting him, to the sofa and placed him on it.” Ivan knew that he was going to die, but everyone is saying he is just ill and would get better, he knew he needs special care and in the following part we can see that he realized the only one who really cares about him is Gerasim and that no one was going to help him but Gerasim: ”He saw that no one felt for him, because no one even wished to grasp his position. Only Gerasim recognized it and pitied him.’’ When Gerasim was helping Ivan with his illness they start to be friends and create a bond between them because Gerasim is an honest person that acts like his thoughts, they are like two brothers. “Gerasim smiled again and turned to leave the room. But Ivan Ilyich felt his presence such a comfort that he did not want to let him go.”

In conclusion, after all these examples, we can see that the thesis is correct, because there are many examples in the novella that shows an oppressive, egotistical and shallow bourgeoisie during the Russian Revolution, and in contrast, we have the proletariat, a hard worker and honest class that was exploited by the bourgeoisie, something we see in the book George Orwell “Animal Farm”, where the pigs after doing a revolution keep exploiting the animals, just like how the humans do.

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Russian Revolution in The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Analytical Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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