Writes Leo Tolstoy's The Death Of Ivan Ilych

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Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible” (799). Writes Leo Tolstoy in “The death of Ivan Ilych,” with this statement, he captures the effect of how money power and the pursuit of happiness take on a much different meaning when one is forced to take account of their life and the choices that they have made. Ivan did all that was expected of him as far as education, career and family life, yet he could never fill the void in his life that he yearns for as he lay dying. Tolstoy uses character to show Ivan’s struggle with the meaning of his life and his need to accept death. Ivan’s character is one of a person consumed with the frivolous lifestyle that he sees all around him, and that he has become accustomed…show more content…
Throughout his illness Ivan struggles to come to the realization that he is in fact dying, a fact that his family and even the physicians want to keep silent about, like dirt being swept under a rug. According to an article written by Dr. Papadimos and Dr. Stawicki, “First, recognition of the dying patient is important because only half of dying patients realize that they are actually dying. This need for recognition of dying also applies to family members and even physicians themselves”. Ivan’s painful realization was that he is indeed dying, however no one wants to address it and help him through the process of dying, thus making him feel even worse. Ivan goes on to say that, “ This deception tortured him-their not wishing to admit what they all knew and what he knew, but wanting to lie to him concerning his terrible condition, and wishing and forcing him to participate in that lie” (821) This leaves Ivan alone, outside of Gerasim, to cope and to reflect on all the things that he should have done differently, further allowing him to come to terms with his mortality. Author and Cambridge professor Mary Beard points out that “for most of his family and colleagues, his death is an inconvenience and an embarrassment; they were, as the living usually are relieved not to be dying themselves but simultaneously aggrieved by the reminder of their own mortality that Ivan Ilych’s death gave them.” Ivan’s very real struggle to grasp the true meaning of his life, leads to his accepting his death, because it is only through the realization of the true values of life does he began to heal mentally and emotionally and embrace his impending

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