Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ivan Ilyich Golovin
Ivan Ilyich Golovin (ih-VAHN ihl-YIHCH goh-LOH-vihn), a prominent judge. A genial and conscientious lawyer, the popular Ivan Ilyich hides from reality under a cloak of decorum. Obtaining an excellent appointment in St. Petersburg, he finds there a house and an ordered routine exactly to his taste. He feels that life is, at last, just as it should be. Then he learns that he is the victim of a fatal disease. Facing death, he is forced to look, for the first time, at the truth about his life. Only as he becomes aware of the real meaning of his past decisions does he free himself from the fear of death.
Praskovya Fedorovna Golovina
Praskovya Fedorovna Golovina (prahs-KOH-vyah FYOH-do-rov-nah goh-LOH-vih-nah), Ivan Ilyich Golovin’s wife. Dissatisfied with the role her husband has chosen for her, she becomes demanding and quarrelsome and, finally, isolated from him. Only in death does her husband become aware of her as a person deserving pity and forgiveness.
Gerasim (geh-RAH-sihm), Ivan Ilyich Golovin’s peasant servant boy. In his candid admission of the reality and naturalness of death, and with his honesty and clean young strength, Gerasim comforts and cares for his master through his last illness.
Peter Ivanovitch (ih-VAH-no-vihch), Ivan Ilyich Golovin’s colleague. Under a show of observing the proper protocol, Peter hides his true feelings about the dying and dead Ivan Ilyich.