The Journey Of A Man In The Death Of Ivan Ilyich

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As Ralph Marston said, “ You were born to be real, not to be perfect, you are here to be you, not to live someone else’s life. “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, is a novella about a man called Ivan who is a protagonist, who has lived his life believing that his life must be perfect, with the perfect job, perfect friends, and family. Tolstoy uses inference in his novella ”The Death of Ivan Ilyich” to present to the reader in a powerful way the journey of a man who has to face his own mortality and has his mind changed when he realizes that his life has not been perfect.

Ivan has lived his life in a bourgeoisie style, he chooses his job, his friends and his wife thinking about how they will improve his social status, That is clear when Ivan Ilyich studies and graduates in Law, because he thinks that will be good for his social appearance which is clearly inferred when reading, “At school, he had done things which had formerly seemed to him very horrid and made him feel disgusted with himself when he did them; but when later on he saw that such actions were done by people of good position and that they did not regard them as wrong, he was able not exactly to regard them as right, but to forget about them entirely or not be at all troubled at remembering them.” Here it is clear to see how Ivan’s thinking has been modified by society, and that He has made friends with people that have the influence to improve his status. Ivan Ilyich does not marry a woman because he loves her, rather marries a woman because of his friends like her. “ To say that Ivan Ilyich married because he fell in love with Praskovya Fedorovna and found that she sympathized with his views of life would be as incorrect as to say that he married because his social circle approved of the match”. As inferred by the above examples it can be stated that Ivan Ilyich spends his whole life choosing the wrong friends just to improve his social status and because of that, his friends are superficial.

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It can be inferred that everything in Ivan’s life is superficial and that no one really cares about him. Reading about his marriage, it is clearly inferred that Ivan and Praskovya are completely opposite and that they hate each other. ‘Please don’t raise any objections. I am doing this for my own sake,’ she said ironically, letting it be felt that she was doing it all for his sake and only said this to leave him no right to refuse. He remained silent, knitting his brows. He felt that he was surrounded and involved in a mesh of falsity that it was hard to unravel anything”. Ivan has two sons, Lisa and Vladimir. In one hand we have Lisa, who treated his father’s illness life as a problem, she complains about his father by accusing him of ruined his happiness about her wedding, ‘Is it our fault?’ Lisa said to her mother. ‘It’s as if we were to blame! I am sorry for papa, but why should we be tortured?’ that can really seem when compared to the communist manifesto in “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.” In another we have Vladimir, a little innocent boy who shows compassion with his father, “ Just then his schoolboy son had crept softly in and gone up to the bedside. The dying man was still screaming desperately and waving his arms. His hand fell on the boy’s head, and the boy caught it, pressed it to his lips, and began to cry”. Ivan is “friend” of Peter Ivanovich, when he discovered that Ivan was dead he thought “rather him than me, and thought about his brother-in-law’s could get his job ‘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’. So It can be inferred that Peter is selfish and does not care about the ones that have no relationship with him, likewise, according to George Orwell in Animal Farm, ‘Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.’ and Ivan discovered that his life was not like he wants to and all falsity of his life is appearing now.

Besides Vladimir, Gerasim apparently is the only one that cares about Ivan. Gerasim is the only one that told Ivan the truth that he is dying and because of that Ivan seems to appreciate him. “Gerasim brought the chair, set it down gently in place, and raised Ivan Ilyich’s legs on it. It seemed to Ivan Ilyich that he felt better while Gerasim was holding up his legs”. He takes care of Ivan in a way that Ivan really have some compassion with him “Gerasim alone did not lie; everything showed that he alone understood the facts of the case and did not consider it necessary to disguise them, but simply felt sorry for his emaciated and enfeebled master”. Gerasim can be considered the opposite to Ivan, He is always trying to be kind and not materialistic, the total opposite to the bourgeoisie society. “ And in Gerasim’s attitude towards him there was something akin to what he wished for, and so that attitude comforted him”. So as we can see, Gerasim is an important character in the story that makes the reader take him as a role model, contrasting with Ivan’s and the whole bourgeoisie society’s lifestyle.

To conclude, it can be stated that Ivan Ilyich spends his whole life trying to live a “bourgeois lifestyle,” and because of that, he chooses his friends and wife by the status that they have, and how they would improve his own status. So, we can conclude that Tolstoy uses inference in his novella,” The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” to present to the reader in a powerful way the journey of a man who has to face his own mortality, and has his mind changed, when he realizes that his life has not been perfect, making the reader compare this to their own reality. 


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