The Death of Ivan Ilyich Topics for Further Study
by Leo Tolstoy

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Compare the philosophical attitudes of Leo Tolstoy’s contemporaries on death. Was a fear of death and its implications for a meaningless or more meaningful life a common preoccupation during the time Tolstoy was writing? What ideas of death are made more lucid in Tolstoy’s ‘‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’’ which where also being explored by contemporary philosophers?

Explore Tolstoy’s ideas about social conventions and their effect on human development in comparison with Franz Kafka’s portrayal of Gregor in ‘‘The Metamorphosis.’’ Could any of Freud’s works elucidate what these authors are trying to convey?

Are Tolstoy’s allusions to religious ideologies in ‘‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’’ (such as his use of Ivan Ilych’s fatal fall and the Biblical fall, and his reference to Ivan seeing the light before he dies) too dependent on a framework which has faith in God? Do Tolstoy’s religious undertones detract from the narrative of Ivan’s death?