The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Death of Ivan Ilych Character List

Iván Ilych

Husband to Praskóvya Fëdorovna. Father to Lisa and Vladimir Ivánich (also called Vásya). Iván Ilych is a shallow judge who has lived all of his life in the pursuit of pleasant and decorous living. His goals are both typical and spiritually vacuous. His marriage is unhappy, his job is just a job, and his sole real pleasure is playing cards. When he falls ill, Iván Ilych is forced to confront the truth about how he has lived. For the fun of irony, Tolstoy makes him a judge, because Iván Ilych's illness will force him to become his own harshest judge, and place him under the power of forces far greater than any vested in Iván Ilych's petty office.

Fëdor Vasílievich

One of Iván Ilych's colleagues. He appears mainly in the first chapter.

Iván Egórovich

One of Iván Ilych's colleagues. He appears mainly in the first chapter.

Peter Ivánovich

One of Iván Ilych's colleagues, and Iván Ilych's closest friend. He appears mainly in the first chapter, which seems to center on him. The narrator's eye follows him as he goes to pay respects to Iván Ilych's family. In many respects he seems similar to Iván Ilych before his illness. He gets the death out of his mind by playing cards.

Praskóvya Fëdorovna

Iván Ilych's charmless wife. She is petty, hypocritical, and difficult. During his illness, she waits for him to die. Afterward, through a veil of hypocritical tears, she grills Peter Ivánovich with questions about the pension from her husband's death.


A pleasant peasant lad, the assistant to Iván Ilych's butler, and eventually Iván Ilych's sick nurse. He shows real compassion for Iván Ilych, and holds up the ill man's legs to help relieve the pain. He is simple and good, and unlike the others does not deny the reality of death.


A charming cad. The import of his colleague's death rolls off of him like water off a duck's back. He charmingly eludes duties and entices Peter Ivánovich to play cards. Schwartz is German for black, suggesting that he is a kind of devil character. His charming presence helps distract Peter Ivánovich from thinking deeply about mortality, and he lures the man away with the promise of a game of cards.


Iván Ilych's daughter. Her father's death is unpleasant, and therefore thinking about it is to be avoided. She is young and strong and in love, as well as selfish and uncompassionate.

Vladimir Ivánich (aka Vásya)

Iván Ilych's son. He is an awkward, pathetic boy. He is also sincerely moved by his father's sufferings, and suggests hope for the future.

Peter the Footman

A servant in Iván Ilych's house.


The butler in Iván Ilych's house.

Fëdor Petróvich (aka Petríshchev)

Lisa's fiancé. He is a typical young man, in the same social class as Iván Ilych's family.