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

Dysfunctional Relationships

After having read more of the story, I think it is important to take note of the dysfunctional relationship that Ivan and his family share.  As I have mentioned earlier, we already know that Ivan and his wife, Preskovya, do not have the best marriage. One could say that they are each selfish (I think Ivan is more selfish just because he married her because as an aristocrat he should  have a wife) and they don’t really care about each other. For example, after Ivan died, Preskovya was only concerned with the financial aspects of the funeral. Not only do Ivan and his wife have a dysfunctional relationship, but also his family life is marked with unhappiness. As a result of Ivan not being the best father, and not being there when his family needs him, when Ivan becomes sick his family does not sympathize with him very much. Despite the dysfunctional relationship this family has, Ivan’s youngest son is the only one to show any sign of affection to his dad. It is such a shame that the family does not have a better relationship. However, if Ivan had this relationship with all his relatives and friends then I can kind of see why they are so greedy and are just after his money.

– Alexis


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3 thoughts on “Dysfunctional Relationships

  1. Going back to what Nelson says, repeatedly LOL, Tolstoy I am sure wanted this to be Ivan’s life, to make us dislike the man we originally felt sorry for. To reveal the true nature of people and how terrible we all are. Even when a woman such as Preskovya originally may have had legitimate feelings for Ivan, his indifference to love eventually sent the relationship spiraling downwards. They just continue to make each other miserable. I guess thats the human condition?


  2. I think more than anything that the reason his marriage was so dyfunctional was not simply due to Ivan’s indifference to love, but since the day he said “I do” it was for all the wrong reasons. I would said it is the human condition to always be seeking more (in temrs of materials) and keeping up with the (who’s who). Therefore, leaving Ivan to belive that someone in his class should be married simply due to societal standards.


  3. Haha, Christina I definitely agree. Also to what Alexis said, although Ivan is the “antagonist” in way we can’t take all blame away from Preskovya. She should have realized before the fact that Ivan was not a pleasant person.

    Anyhow, it is a common theme throughout literature around this time that people of the same social class are “forced” to marry within their class. Many works deal with this dilemma. To me at least, this story just feels like a typical piece of this era. It touches upon all the stereotypical themes and what not.

    – Nelson

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