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The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

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Lauren Mills ENGL1323 Dr. Parrish July 13, 2003 The Death of Ivan Ilyich In The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy paints a poignant image of the death of an un-contemplative man after his brief life. On the surface, Ivan has success: a good job, family, and money. However, despite all his earned success, Ivan Ilyich was still an empty man, unprepared to die. It is only as he dies that he begins to realize the true meaning of life and what it should have meant to him. Even as he was living, Ivan seemed to be aware that all of his colleague friends lacked true affection for him. "He felt that he was trapped in such a mesh of lies that it was difficult to make sense out of anything." He hated his wife for he knew that all of her words were false and her affection towards him was not really out of love, but out of desire for money. ...read more.


Contrasting with the mental anguish, physical pain, and false life that Ivan suffers, are the relationships he forms with his son and the servant, Gerasim. Ivan lacked honest affection from his wife and his friends, but his son and Gerasim really cared about him. His son truly grieved over his father's condition, and Gerasim, a servant but later a nurse, gave Ivan all of the honest companionship and care that he so desperately craved. Gerasim's reassuring touch and his son's willingness to stay and talk with his father were enough to alleviate Ivan's constant suffering. Tolstoy portrays Ivan Ilyich's life as the antithesis of the contemplative life. Ivan had been consumed with the material, the present, and the popular within society. His entire life he has done what is expected in society for a higher class living. He buys an expensive house to which he could not afford, and does things in accordance to society's expectations. ...read more.


An hour before his death, Ivan Ilyich thought, "I can still make it the real thing - I can. But what is the real thing?" At this thought, Ivan Ilyich stopped screaming, and he felt someone kissing his hand. It was his son. Too weak to adequately express his regrets and ask for their forgiveness, he stuttered words of forgiveness to his wife and son, knowing that they would understand. At the end of his life Ivan Ilyich realized the truth that if he forgave himself for his life, than the "heavenly father" would forgive him. Ivan was ready to accept death at this point, and finally knew the significance of his life. In sudden understanding, he yells, "How good and how simple!" Now, he is accepting death. To his response he screams "So that's it! What bliss!" After screaming these mortal words, Ivan Ilyich stretches out and dies, yet dies at peace with himself and with God. Mills 1 ...read more.

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