The Christain Theme of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich Essay

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The Christain Theme of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich


Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich attacks the pursuit of material possessions. The Ilyich family bases itself upon the unsure foundation of wealth. As Ivan ascends the rungs of the corporate ladder, he acquires new possessions and articles. After joining the Civil Service, Ivan buys "new fashionable belongings" at the "very best shops" to keep up appearances (100). For his wedding to Fiorodovna, Ivan buys "new furniture, new crockery, new linen[s]" to be proper or comme il faut. He tries in vain to keep up "appearances as ordained by public opinion" (116). None of these niceties are needed: Ivan buys them purely for the pleasure of owning them and in attempt to
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Accompanying Ivan Ilyich's endeavor to obtain treasures, is also his lust for power. The necessity of money seems to always go hand-in-hand with power. The two have a ubiquitous and inseparable bond. Previous to his seat as examining magistrate, Ivan Ilyich treated the "dependent folk affably, almost as comrades" (112). However, with newfound authority and control on his side he soon feels that "everyone - everyone without exception, even the most important and self-sufficient - [are] in his hands" (113). This perception grows larger and larger in Ivan's mind as his jobs become increasingly important.

Along with the two twins of power and money, Ivan Ilyich, in order to fit in with his class, starts a family. His relationship with Praskovya Fiorodovna is based not upon love but upon "properness" and "decorum" - it is arranged more for his "official existence" rather than out of true matrimony.

These three things: money, power and family, are chaff in the wind. At no point does Ivan's money help him find a cure to his irremediable illness. His fate lies within the hands of the doctors who incorrectly diagnose his disease and all have differing opinions as to what the heart of the matter is. The possessions that money can buy would comfort Ivan little in his decline.

The power that Ivan displays to those who worked under him and those who hired him is reversed. The…