Death Of Ivan Illych Story

The short story, "The Death of Ivan Ilych", written by Leo Tolstoy, is
about the reactions of a man and his friends to his suffering and death.

Everyone who knows Ivan including Ivan himself has led a life of total
disconcern for the feelings and sufferings of others. They all lead shallow
lives not daring to probe into the feelings deep down inside for fear of
stepping outside the lines of propriety. That is the biggest rule that people of
that society follow. Do not say or show what you are thinking. Ivan Ilych's
attitude toward life is the same all the way up to his death. He was as the
author put it, "...a capable, good-natured, and social man, though strict
in the fulfillment of what he considered his duty: and he considered his duty to
be what was so considered by those in authority." (p. 1088) That quote
states that Ivan was solely concerned with his duties and his advancement in
position by following the orders of his authorities. Ivan was son of a
successful man who held many positions in many departments. That man, Ilya

Epimovich Golovin, had three sons. The oldest followed his father's example and
was a success. The youngest son was a total failure. He had blown many
opportunities and was the shame of the family. Ivan the middle son was the
better of the two. Ivan was a mix of his two brothers. He had the hard-working
spirit of the older brother but also appreciates the value of a good time like
the younger brother. Ivan's career grew steadily. In a short time, he eventually
obtained the position of examining magistrate. Ivan did very well in this
position. He excelled in the separation of the personal duties in his life and
the official duties to which he was totally dedicated. This taste of power which
came with his new position was very appealing to Ivan. The idea that writing a
few words or giving a simple command sent people into motion made Ivan very
happy. Upon moving to a new town to take up the position of examining
magistrate, Ivan met his future wife, Praskovya Fedorovna Mikhel. Ivan saw her
as a "...well connected, and was a sweet, pretty, and thoroughly correct
young woman." The view that she was so within the lines of propriety was
the most attractive feature which this young woman possessed in Ivan's view. At
first the marriage which Ivan thought couldn't hurt his pleasure-seeking life
didn't, then according to Ivan she began to disturb the pleasure and propriety
of his life. This ordeal only worsened when his wife became pregnant. She became
unbearable to him, overly jealous and coarse, becoming an obstacle to his
pursuit of happiness and properness. When the child was born, Ivan realized that
a life totally separate his family life would be necessary to fulfill the goals
he set for himself. He also came to the realization that to keep his marriage in
order that he was going to have to adopt the same attitude to his family that he
has to his official duties. Ivan developed an attitude towards his family of
complete indifference as stated in the story, "He only required of it those
conveniences---dinner at home, housewife, and bed---which it could give
him." (p. 1092) More children arrived and his wife's attitude only
worsened. After three years and becoming a highly looked upon official he
received a promotion to the position of Assistant Public Prosecutor. This new
promotion made Ivan like his job even more. Meanwhile, more children were born
which made Ivan's life even more difficult. After getting another promotion and
moving to another province, the marriage was getting increasingly difficult. To
try and overcome this Ivan decided to spend some time in the country with his
wife. This move turns out to be a very bad one. Ivan falls into deep depression
and decides that some drastic measures are needed. He returns from the country
heading towards St. Petersburg with the objective of obtaining a salary of 5,000
rubles a year. Things worked out very much in his favor. He got a promotion two
steps above his former position. After obtaining this position, he returned to
the country and his marriage life improved immensely. Ivan then proceeded to the
province to which they were moving to attempt to locate a house. He found one
which suited his tastes perfectly. Ivan turned his attention towards furnishing
his house. He searched for all the things which give his house an air of
aristocracy and yet not too