Analysis of Leo Tolstoy and his work, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

So I started reading this story and yes, you guessed it, Ivan dies. Tolstoy obviously wanted the reader to ‘get’ the story right off the bat so from the very beginning we can see that its going to be about money and power. On the very first page of the “The Death…” the true motives of Ivan’s colleagues are revealed. Omniscient narrator states, “…on hearing of Ivan Ilyich’s death, the first thought of each gentleman in the room was of the effect this death might have on the transfer or promotion of themselves of their friends.”(p.79) In fact, the only person who appears to have any conscience at all is Peter, or Pytor, Ivanovich. But even he is rather concerned with the effects of Ilyich’s death and the burden it is to deal with the proper burial of the dead. Ilyich’s own wife is more concerned with the financial aspects of his death than the fact that he is dead.

– Christina


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5 thoughts on “The Death of Ivan Ilyich

  1. I think this only goes on to prove how detached from reality Tolstoy was due to the losses he endured. Tolstoy only tries to show the reader what he truly thinks of society and how most of us are concerned with material things than our loved ones.

  2. Oh also, I believe by having the reader already know that the person in the title dies serves as a tool to desensitize the reader for the lack of emotion that is found in the story.

  3. I totally agree with your second comment Nelson. I did not really interpret it like that, but now that you say it, it really does make sense. The characters in the book are heartless and knowing that Ivan is already dead keeps you from developing an emotional attachment to his character.


  4. I agree with both of what you guys said to an extent. I understand that the title obviously gives away what the novel is about, however, I do not think Tolstoy’s only intention was. for the reader not develop and emotional attachment to Ivan. I think this book more than anything goes into the complications as a result of his death and his dyfunctional life prior to it. On a side note we have to remember thatTolstoy was a man who was decensitized to death because it surrounded him his entire life.


  5. That is true Alexis, now that I think about it, it could go either way. He could have purposely tried to desensitize us, or he could have simply just naturally written it that way because he was so bored with death. All he ever went through was death, I’m surprised this man did not go completely nuts (although he may have…). I mean either way it does desensitize the reader and at least from my perspective, I definitely did not feel any attachment to any of the characters, ESPECIALLY Ivan.

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