Leo Tolstoy is an outstanding Russian writer, publicist, and thinker, one of the great novelists in world literature. Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828, in the Russian Empire, in Yasnaya Polyana and died at the age of 83. During his life, the author wrote many world-famous classical works. One of these works is The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which tells the story of a man who realized that his whole life had not gone the way he would like. In the work of Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the main themes of sin and repentance that come to the hero after death.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
The author begins his work with the main character’s funeral, which is a non-standard structure for writing a literary story. The thought of death pulls a person out of the cycle of everyday life and returns to the main questions: why do people live, what should they do, and what is the meaning and justification of life. There is little difference between a dead body and people discussing this death since their existence is equivalent to death, not life. All those people who came to say goodbye to the deceased did not feel pity.
At the very beginning, readers can trace one of the many themes of the story — the insensitive vulgarity, senselessness, and callousness of the life of city officials, in which Ivan Ilyich himself recently took a lively part. His colleagues wonder how his death will affect their movements in the service. Ivan Ilyich reduced his whole life to achieving material benefits, not allowing feelings to dominate him: “In that work itself, namely’ in examinations, Ivan Ilyich very quickly adopted the method of pushing away from himself all circumstances not concerned with service…” (Tosltoy 50). For the greatest effect, the work violates the chronological order, namely that which begins with the death of the main character.
The beginning of the work with death vividly demonstrates how a person experiences the approach to the end. In addition, it is obvious what psychological tricks a person uses to dodge the realization of his inevitability and how he finally realizes death. The dying Ivan Ilyich ceases to understand what previously seemed obvious, feels his own body as someone else’s, and feels the lies and falsity of the usual way of life. After the first appointment with the doctor, Ivan Ilyich looks at the world with different eyes: “Everything seemed sad to Ivan Ilyich in the streets. The cabbies were sad, the houses were sad, the passersby and the shops were sad” (Tostoy 63). An ordinary picture appears in an unusual light: the observer’s emotions are projected onto it and have depth. And yet Ivan Ilyich believes that he can still change something in his life and correct past mistakes.
Naturally, it is good to repent of your own mistakes before death. Some of his sins could be forgiven, but still, his life has already been lived the way it has been, and it is not easy to fix anything global in the last three days. Again, everything would return to the same state in which the main character was before the news of the disease. He is faced with the inevitable realization: “Face to face with it and there was nothing to be done with it” (Tolstoy 72). Painful sensations increasingly alienate him from his loved ones, who continue to perform the usual duties of life.
In conclusion, Leo Tolstoy is one of the most famous authors who have given literature and the world many works that raise important issues about the life and death of people. The end of Ivan Ilyich is one such work with a non-standard structure and shows how a person spends his last days of life. The writer shows readers that no matter what the situation of people in life is, death equalizes everyone.
Tostoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. 1886. Web.