Doctor Zhivago Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How is the theme of disillusionment with revolutionary ideology discussed in the novel?

    When the novel starts out the characters are still able to discuss political philosophies with one another. When the revolution begins however and the state enacts a pogrom against anyone who spoke against the state the characters in the novel stop discussing these matters altogether, fearing reprisal from the government. The titular Dr. Zhivago is of course the primary lens through which this theme is tackled and serves as the in-novel mouthpiece for the author’s sentiments against the revolutionary ideology. Dr. Zhivago is a staunch individualist who is very critical of the thoughtlessness of the communist propaganda and he grows increasingly more frustrated with the complicity of his so-called friends that begin to buy into the revolutionary philosophy. As the novel progresses he begins to deteriorate mentally and physically as he witnesses the social decay spurred on by the socialist conditioning fed to the masses by the communist government.

  2. 2

    What does the railway symbolize in the novel?

    The railway system is the embodiment of the cold, callous disregard for human life of the revolutionary government. It is a hard, lifeless construct of stone, metal, and wood built with great difficulty and from the suffering of many people. The railway is also a venue where many tragic deaths occur, typically as an act of protest or as an act of utter defeat. Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago, greatly depressed by his financial ruin, commits suicide on the railway tracks. Marfa Tiversina’s husband also meets a brutal end on the railways when he is burned alive.

  3. 3

    Is the novel critical of Christianity? Support your answer.

    There is a duality in the novel’s opinion on organized religion, specifically Christianity. The author acknowledges the rich contributions of Christianity upon the history and subsequent development of Russia as a nation. Conversely, it also acknowledges that abuses have occurred in the past and it has been used as a tool to oppress the masses. When the Communist party came into power one of the first things they worked to suppress was religion because they espoused the Marxist belief that it was just a tool for pacification.

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