In his novella The Death of Ivan Ilych, Count Leo Tolstoy presents readers a glimpse into the life and death of the socially ambitious Russian man, Ivan Ilych. During the account, Ivans persona is exposed in several other ways: firstly, strangely enough, at his funeral, the place that the actions of his friends serve to show Russian contemporary society as a whole. Tolstoy then uses flashback strategy to recount Ivans life wonderful attitudes toward his family members, his task, and his friends. Ivans lifestyle only solidifies Tolstoys perception of eighties Russian world. From seeing Ivans thoughts and actions, it becomes evident that this individual wants absolutely nothing more is obviously than to become approved of by other folks, and to carry out everything properly. Through Ivan Ilychs existence and death, Tolstoy criticizes the society around him a society overly focused on propriety, conformity, and interpersonal approval.
Tolstoy quickly begins his attack upon Russian world at Ivans funeral, through the actions of his friends, more specifically, he focuses on their very own preoccupation with seemly behavior and task promotions rather than genuine mourning. The assorted gentlemen in fact show their very own selfish habits even before the funeral the moment they hear of Ivans death, the first thought of each of the gentlemenwas of the changes and promotions it might event among themselves or their acquaintances (96). They then accept the degree to which Ivans death offers burdened these people when they recognize that they would will have to fulfill the very tiresome requirements of propriety by participating the memorial service and spending a check out of condolence to the widow (97). Through the actual funeral, Peter Ivanovich one of Ivans closest alleged friends is consumed with doubt whether or not he should cross himself, when he ought to bow to the widow, and exactly how he should offer his condolences (97-98). His concentrate on these small social niceties and the related attitudes of the others at the funeral underscores Tolstoys critique of propriety and superficiality in Russian culture.
After the funeral scene, Tolstoy flashes back in the life of Ivan Ilych, revealing that Ivan was just as much of the conformist since his good friends are. Ivan was unconcerned with whether or not his behavior was morally right, he simply wished to ensure that whatever he performed was done with clean hands, in clean linenand first and foremost among people of the most effective society and consequently with the approval of people of rank (106). Falling in this category were courtship and marriage, which has been considered the proper thing by the most extremely placed of his associates (109), as well as his tendencies at work to said associates, whom this individual treated within a cordial yet patronizing way (107). Ivan was likewise preoccupied with appearances, this individual bedecked his house with antiques which usually he regarded particularly etant donné que il faut (115). In fact , this kind of obsession with the appearance of his home would afterwards contribute significantly to his emotional and physical demise.
However, Ivan was so preoccupied with getting social endorsement that he ultimately sacrificed his existence in an attempt to climb up the cultural ladder. This kind of reality is vividly illustrated during an instance in which Ivan is busily decorating his new residence in St Petersburg. This individual climbs over a stepladder to hang some draperies and abruptly slips from the ladder, yet , he manages to break his fall and only knocks his side resistant to the window knob (116). The trauma to his aspect never completely heals, even though, and the interior damage it causes sooner or later leads to Ivans final battling and death. This is a striking parallel to the circumstances in Ivans personal lifestyle. Ivan had been attempting to size the sociable ladder, successful approval of high-ranking persons, yet to do so he had been unknowingly sacrificing both equally his friends and family life great emotional well being. Tolstoy uses both this unfortunate mental deficiency and its particular physical mark to expose the numerous moral sicknesses afflicting the Russian culture of his day.
Through Ivans seemingly futile existence being a would-be socialite, Tolstoy implores his contemporaries to evaluate their particular priorities in life. Ivan fails to comprehend the emptiness and uselessness of his lifestyle until he could be literally in the deathbed, although his story may quick others living the same kind of lifestyle to reflect and make a lot of much-needed changes within themselves. Tolstoys experience also serves to demonstrate the corrupt world in which this individual lived later nineteenth-century Spain is actually quite similar to todays culture, and that the themes provided in the novella are applicable to nearly every society. Either way, The Death of Ivan Ilych is a miserable testament to the perils of living a life based totally on performances and pretenses.