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


One of the many pleasant life lessons this story has to offer includes the conclusion that HOPE = HAPPINESS. Ivan remains miserable once he has lost all hope. At any moment that hope reappears, he is suddenly satisfied enough to push on and his pain magically shrinks and/or disappears.

Also, religion can help generate that hope…
“When the priest came… there came a moment of hope… He took the sacrament with tears in his eyes.” (pg. 128)

But before we get excited, thinking to our little selves that hope is the answer to eternal satisfaction, I would like to throw in there that Tolstoy obviously wanted to erase all hope from us, as the unsuspecting and naive readers. Because if hope is all we have, and is what keeps us satisfied enough to continue living, then in the eyes of the ‘Optimistic’ Tolstoy, we are leading lives of falsity and lies; lives which will one day catch up to us and make us miserable on our death beds once we realize that no, nobody cares and the world continues on.

Well, happy last blog of the quarter! Might as well end it on a good note:)

– Christina


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One thought on ““Happiness”

  1. Although the story does end on a sad/bad note it kind of contridicts itself and ends on a good note. I know that sounds confusing but by conveying to the reader that by losing hope we also lose all happiness it implies that as long as there is hope there is happiness. This reminds me of that AP prep. essay we had to write about a story that ends “happily” implicitly.

    Again as I have said previously, I believe Tolstoy is being overly typical in this story and just pulling out all the tricks he can. He is extremely trite with his theme usage and making the reader realize they have to be a better person through backhanded conniving ways.

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