According to Tolstoy, what is terrible about a simple and ordinary life in the novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich?

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Chapter 2 of the novel The Death of Ivan Ilych opens with one of the most famously-quoted phrases in Russian literature

Ivan Ilych's life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible

Tolstoy tells us that the simplicity of Ivan's life is actually his tragic flaw. This is because Ivan uses simplicity as part of a formulaic way to live his life in a way that renders him free from taking any emotional, professional, or personal risks.

To live life in an automated mode, for the sake of not running into complications, is not living at all. It is merely existing and admitting that one is way too weak, or too unimaginative, to come up with solutions that arise from complex decisions.

These choices that we get to make in life are for two things: to make us better, or to make us worse. No choice ever comes without a consequence. That is precisely what Ivan's weakness was: he dreaded consequences as  much as he dreaded making mistakes. He also lacked any idea of how to make...

(The entire section contains 626 words.)

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