Analyze Ivan's character in depth. What drew him into such an empty life, and how did he finally find truth?

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clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ivan's life is dictated to him by social status. It is his biggest shortcoming in his life. He lives by the moral code of the socialites his surrounds himself with. He believes that he must mimic their every move in order to truly belong and discover the meaning of life, it becomes his obsession. So he marries and buys a home with all the best things. None of these things make him happy, in fact they irritate him and he begins to hate his life. His solution is withdrawal. We see this when his wife tells him she is pregnant- he becomes consumed by work to escape the responsibility. His personal life begins to operate like business, very cold. Without fully realizing what he was doing he isolated himself from the world, from living his life, from knowing the meaning and purpose of it. All the isolation brings him is pain and suffering and he becomes misguided. Ivan's character serves a purpose to show that the bourgeois life is unfulfilled. Ivan's decline in life makes him aware of the error of his ways and it also delivers the message that a life without compassion, empathy, and quality relationships will lead to a regretful end. His illness finally bring Ivan face to face with what has become of his life and isolation and it causes him to seriously reflect on what he has become and it terrifies him. It is only in the light that Ivan finally realizes that love, compassion, and empathy are the true values of life.

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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