The Death of Ivan Ilych Themes

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Tolstoy was plagued for most of his life with a fear of death. He came to realize, as the character of Ivan Ilych demonstrates vividly, that the closeness of death can create a healthy urgency in life. Ivan Ilych only becomes aware of the superficiality of his social propriety because of his proximity to death. He is horrified in knowing that he cannot escape death as he has escaped all other unpleasantness in life—by treating them with a distance and insincerity. Gerasim stands in opposition to this fear in his simple acceptance of death as a part of life. A comparison can be made between the high-class social falsity among which Ivan Ilych has lived and the peasant, or servant, life among which Gerasim has lived. Ivan Ilych has an agonizing death which is only relieved when he accepts death. Gerasim, as he helps the dying...

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This section contains 850 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Death of Ivan Ilych Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Death of Ivan Ilych from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.