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The Value of The Authentic Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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Anais Nin said, “People living deeply have no fear of death.”Ivan Ilyich it terrified of dying and has rather spent his whole life focussing on his status in society. He has an accident, falling from a ladder, because he is trying to make society happy, and discovers that he is going to die. In accepting, that he is going to die, he has to face his life and begins to realize that he has lived his life superficially and not deeply. In his novella, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” Tolstoy shows the superficiality of the bourgeoisie, through inference of the characters’ actions and behavior towards each other, in order to make the reader think about the value of the authentic versus the superficial life.

The family of the main character Ivan Ilych does not much care for him, consequently also do not pay much attention, they are only interested in the man’s money and not in what he really is and as a consequence for him causes much suffering, sadness, anguish, etc. For example, “Praskovya Fedorovna blamed her husband for every inconvenience they encountered in their new home. Most of the conversations between husband and wife, especially as to the children’s education, led to topics that recalled former disputes, and these disputes were apt to flare up again at any moment.” This shows that Praskovya only marries Ivan Ilych out of interest, especially in his money, which makes her not have patience with him and not act as a nice person towards him. When Ivan Ilych dies, Praskovya does not feel sad, but she pretends to be sad because society asks for this, in fact, she is only interested in how much money she will earn. With this is possible to conclude that Ivan’s life is very complicated and difficult, and it is not pleasant to be in the same situation as him.

The friends of the main character Ivan Ilych are very false with him and only talk to him out of interest, for the simple fact that he is a very wealthy bourgeois and Peter Ivanovich, who becomes his friend, is actually only interested in his position in the company where Ivan Ilych has worked. For example, “Each one thought or felt, ‘Well, he’s dead but I’m alive!’ But the more intimate of Ivan Ilyich’s acquaintances, his so-called friends, could not help thinking also that they would now have to fulfill the very tiresome demands of propriety by attending the funeral service and paying a visit of condolence to the widow.” This shows that Ivan Ilych’s friends are fake with him and interested in his money. When Ivan Ilych dies, Peter Ivanovich is not been sad, but he pretends to be sad, to look like a good friend, but in reality, Peter is happy because he would get the job position of Ivan Ilych which he has always wanted. With this is possible to conclude that Ivan´s friends did not care about him and are very fake towards him, mainly Peter.

Gerasim is Ivan’s only true real person with Ivan, who takes care of him from when he is sick until the day he dies, and is the only friend who is not a fake and not interested in his money, besides the fact it is he, who tells Ivan Ilych that he is going to die. For example, “The last time I had called Ivan Ilyich, Peter Ivanovich had seen Gerasim in the study. Ivan Ilyich had been particularly fond of him and he was performing the duty of a sick nurse.” This shows us that Gerasim is with Ivan until the day of his death. When Ivan dies only he is really saddened by the event and does not have to pretend anything to anyone, but only shows his true and true feelings, in other words, his sadness at the death of Ivan Ilych. With this is possible to conclude that the only real person towards Ivan, is Gerasim, and as has been said before, the only person who takes care of Ivan during all the time Ivan is sick until the day Ivan dies, in addition of having been the one who warns Ivan that he is going to die, by which we can see that Gerasim is indeed a true friend of Ivan Ilych who has no interest in the money of the bourgeoisie.

To conclude, we can say that Ivan´s life is difficult and so sad, and only person who is honest with him, is Gerasim, as the others, including his family and friends, are fake and selfish towards him, and we can see that it is not easy to be in Ivan`s situation and live the life that Ivan has lived. Through inference, we can see clearly, that Ivan Ilych has had a very difficult life, in which his friends do not care for him, except Gerasim, and all this is very difficult. The book teaches us that it is no use for human beings and hearts to have the family of Ivan, but rather follow the example of Gerasim who is a poor proletariat, who has love in his heart and really cares about Ivan and is at his side when he gets sick and takes good care of him, as if it were some very close relative, or even his son or his father. 

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The Value Of The Authentic Life In The Death Of Ivan Ilyich. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 24, 2022, from
“The Value Of The Authentic Life In The Death Of Ivan Ilyich.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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