In Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, what statements made and actions taken by different characters serve to illustrate the type of behaviors and thinking that Tolstoy found so empty and meaningless?
Virtually none of the characters in Leo Tolstoy's novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich demonstrate the things Tolstoy valued, such as living rightly and treating people with respect and honor. Instead, they consistently display "meaningless and empty" behavior and thinking.
A quick examination of each character reveals how far they are from Tolstoy's ideals.
Schwartz and Shebek are supposed to be Ivan Ilyich's friends. They work and socialize together. Schwartz attends Ivan's funeral, but he is there not out of any real feeling of loss but because it is expected. He does not grieve the loss of his friend, so the relationship between them was superficial. Shebek's first response is to wonder about his own promotion now that Ivan is gone. Again any friendship they had was superficial.
Sokolov is the butler for Ivan's family, and he has the effrontery to be discussing the cost of Ivan's funeral plot with Ivan's wife and Peter during the funeral. There is no respect or decorum here, and this is certainly not an example of living rightly.
Fedor Vasilievich is another of Ivan's colleagues and one of his closest friends. When he reads the news of Ivan's death in the paper, he thinks first of how it will affect him and eagerly anticipates a promotion at Ivan's expense. No real friendship here, either.
Ivan Ilyich Golovin is the protagonist of the story. To be fair to his so-called friends, he would probably have reacted to their deaths much as they did to his. His early life is pleasant enough and all goes well until he marries his wife, a woman he does not love, for what she brings him. Unfortunately, he begins to live his life doing only what he deems proper. In fact, he cares for nothing and grows detached from nearly every thing and...
(The entire section contains 623 words.)
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