Death Of Ivan Ilych By Tolstoy Essay

Leo Tolstoy, born in Russia in 1828, wrote The Death of Ivan Ilych. The story
was written eight years after Tolstoy’s spiritual conversion and was inspired
by his own brother’s death. The Death of Ivan Ilych has several ironies
expressed in the story. Ilych expressed his denial, anger, depression and
acceptance towards dying very visibly. Ilych expressed denial of his condition
when he laughed about his accident. Ilych was explaining to the upholsterer how
he wanted the drapes to hand and he slipped off the ladder. He hit his side
against the knob of the window frame. He told his wife it was only a bruise.

Since he was fairly athletic, he said he did not get seriously hurt, but if it
had been any other man they might have been killed from the accident. Within a
short time, Ilych’s condition became more intense and it was decided that he
needed a second opinion because he was not getting any better. He thought the
doctor did not know what he was doing, but this was not the case. He needed an
excuse for his failing health. His celebrated doctor diagnosed him basically
with the same symptoms his first doctor had. This did not make Ilych very happy.

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Ilych was expressing more and more anger because of hid declining health. While
in his home, Ilych was always blaming Praskovya, his wife for everything. At the
dinner table, he complained about the food not being prepared correctly, he did
not like the way his daughter’s hair was styled, and he even blamed her if
their son put his elbows on the dinner table. His wife suggested getting a
famous specialist to come see him, regardless of the cost. Ilych said no. She
kissed his forehead and said’ “Good-night. Please God you’ll sleep.” As
she kissed him, Ilych hated her so much he wanted to push her away but did not.

On another occasion, Ilych was angry with everyone about everything and was
upset because they did not pity him. He overheard them enjoying themselves and
not including him. He was so angry and began choking with unbearable misery. He
was even angry with himself and thought no man should have to suffer in this
manner. He tried to calm himself and find a way to rationalize the whole
situation. Ilych’s condition caused him to express a great deal of depression.

Deep in his heart he knew he was dying but could not get used to the fact. He
began to sleep less and less and was given Opium and hypodermic shots of
Morphine; the drugs did little to calm him. The special food fixed for him
became tasteless and was sickening. The butler, Geraim’s assistance, would
make Ilych as comfortable as possible. One evening Ilych moved his legs from
Gerasim’s shoulders, turned on his side and felt sorry for himself. He wept
like a child because of his helplessness, loneliness and anger with God. He felt
God had forsaken him. Ilych lost all hope on life and was so depressed he
questioned God as to why was he doing this to him. Ivan finally expressed the
acceptance of his condition. He would no longer lie in bed but instead he would
lie on the sofa all the time. He began to ask himself the same question over and
over, “what is this? Can this be death?” His conscience, or inner voice said
to him “yes, it is death.” His wife began to remind him about taking his
medicine. He became upset and told her, “for Christ’s sake, let me die in
peace!” The doctor came to visit him as scheduled and one day he told the
doctor, “you know you can do nothing for me, so leave me alone.” Ilych told
him that he could not even ease his pain so let him be. He struggled and
suffered with severe pain for three days and would scream hopelessly. Suddenly
he knew what was happening to him and wanted to release himself from suffering.


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