The Death Of Ivan Ilyich Analysis

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Noam Saul October 18, 2014 Death Of Ivan Ilych Writing Assignment Throughout The Death Of Ivan Ilych, written by Leo Tolstoy in 1886, numerous motifs, symbols, and literary devices are used to convey the overall themes of the book. Those themes, being the idea of a physical life compared to a spiritual life, as well as the inevitable phenomenon of death, are mentioned at various points in the novel and serve as key characteristics of society that Tolstoy had hoped to point out. Coinciding with the blasphemous reality of an artificial bourgeoisie lifestyle, Tolstoy claimed that humans possessed two different situational forms of life. The first, the physical life, pertains to the materialistic needs and desires of the individual who strives…show more content…
Three key aspects that represent those themes are the ubiquitous references to bourgeois society, the gradual confinement of space, and the black sack that Ivan dreams of in chapter nine. Tolstoy makes a case to call out the defects of bourgeois society from the first chapter onwards. Since the first chapter is written following Ivan’s death, Tolstoy is able to capture the reactions of Ivan’s coworkers who are far more concerned with the possible promotions resulting from his death than any grief and sorrow that would typically follow the death of a friend or loved one. Even Praskovya is troubled more with the government pensions she can receive than the loss of her husband. The faultiness of the bourgeois lifestyle is also evident in the life of Ivan as he lives for the general approval of those around him, buys a house and decorates it with a materialistic mindset, and marries his wife “because his social circle approved of the match” (15). The bourgeois society depicts a sense of inauthenticity in which relationships are shallow and everyone is essentially self-interested. The confined space allegory is not as obvious as the bourgeois lifestyle but is still a crucial notation leading up to the major themes. In the beginning of his successful business life, Ivan Ilych lives between two separate provinces however as time progresses, he becomes progressively confined to smaller settings. Following the provincial environment, Ivan settles in a home that is “so like the others that it would never have been noticed” (22), again emphasizing his uniform way of life. When he becomes sick, Ivan’s life gets confined to just his office and as the situation worsens, he ends up unable to move from his sofa. This relates to the previously mentioned themes in that, prior to being sick, Ivan prospered at work and his professional setting

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