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Death of Ivan Lynch

In: English and Literature

Submitted By thepple
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In The Death of Ivan Ilych, Tolstoy uses death to explore the question of what makes for a happy life. Ivan Ilych, the main character, has lived his whole life with the aim of enjoying himself: winning power at work, spending money, buying things to impress his friends, throwing parties, and playing bridge (his favorite thing of all). He seeks only what is pleasant, and deliberately avoids whatever is unpleasant. He has always done that in which society would perceive as the “right” thing. He married not for love, but rather because that was what he needed to do. All of his friends are basically the same way. Yet once Ivan falls ill and is faced with the prospect of dying, he realizes that while there is pain in his disease and death, the real pain comes from his attitude towards life that he has been unable to relinquish. His suffering brings him to recognize that his whole life has actually been a very unhappy one, though he didn't know it. Before becoming sick, Ivan Ilych had willfully ignored his mortality, just like everyone around him. Once he realizes that he is actually dying, however, he no longer can. His suffering and his fear of death have the effect of completely cutting him off from the normal world around him. For his friends, colleagues, and family members, life goes on just as before. Ivan is dismayed to discover that none of them seems to understand or care about what he's experiencing. He is left to face his fears and agonies alone, without comfort from anyone except a servant, the one person who pities him. The doctor comes to visit Ivan and does not reference his dying nor will any of his family or friends. When the doctor offers to ease his sufferings Ivan replies, “You can’t even do that. Let me be.” This further tells us that Ivan’s pain runs far deeper than that of his illness. One night while watching Gerasim sleep, he thought suddenly to…...

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