The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Death Of Ivan Ilych: The Sad Truth Behind The Façade Of 19th Century Middle Class College

The Death of Ivan Ilych is more than a novella about death: it is a text dedicated to life. Leo Tolstoy diligently paints an accurate portrait of the 19th century middle class and everything that is wrong with the philosophy of life of the people during the time. Establishing a rather simple and seemingly mundane plot with not much action, Tolstoy manages to touch a number of sensitive topics and major problems of middle-class society in a very subtle, yet skillful and clever way. The main character in the novella, Ivan Ilych, is the embodiment of the average man who strives to grow and secure his position in the middle class, building his whole life based on illusions, at the cost of his happiness and his family. Ivan’s life passes him by while he is too busy living up to society’s expectations and chasing after his superficial and preposterous goal, completely oblivious to what the true meaning of life is.

Ivan Ilych dedicates his whole life to please those that are “most highly placed” (Tolstoy 13) and thus to ascend in middle class society. His obsession starts developing during his boyhood and manages to take a toll on his entire life, affecting his philosophy on life, relationships and even his perception of happiness. “...

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