Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1093

Essay

A major theme of The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy is the morality and condition of the soul. The author emphasizes the importance of this theme by utilizing the literary elements of plot, symbolism, and tone. The story revolves around an individual who is considered to be high in society, but his death teaches us that despite the status we obtain in life, we are all equal in death. Furthermore, Ilyich’s situation reminds us that we must live through others to truly live at all, as these relationships last longer than life itself. The setting of the story is symbolic of Ilyich’s status, as his house is marked by luxurious curtains and we can expect that aspects of his home that were not described in the tale were grand as well. Thus, the symbolism of the story works well with the tone, because even despite Ilyich’s belief that the curtains mark happiness and success, to the reader it seems that they cast a shadow on his household that lead to his mental degradation. All of these elements are used to demonstrate the transformation of Ilyich’s soul.

The plot of the story demonstrates how Ilyich goes from being a successful and well-revered man in his own mind to one without a grasp on reality. In a sense, this shows that he is finally able to view himself the way that others do. Simply put, his life does not mean much to others, so it doesn’t mean anything at all. When the death of the main character is introduced in the first chapter, it explains that “Ivan Ilych had been a colleague of the gentlemen present and was liked by them all” (Tolstoy 6). However, this description of Ilyich’s relationship with these individuals is superficial, just like his life. As the story continues, we learn that Ilyich wasn’t liked, but was tolerated due to his social status and influence. The plot of the story revolves around clarifying the truth of this statement. Later in the story, when Ilyich begins to learn the truth of the meaning of his life, he begins to slip into insanity because he cannot cope with this new understanding of himself. At the end, Ilyich makes a major transformation, as this mental state teaches him to pity those that he will leave behind in this world. For the first time, it appears that he cares about others. This demonstrates that the condition of the soul can change when faced with death because this is the factor that unites all life.

The curtains in the story appear to be symbolic of Ilyich’s view towards others. From the brief description of the curtains that we are given, it seems that he is overly obsessed with his curtains, just as he is obsessed with the other aspects of vanity that consume his life. An excerpt from the story states “Sometimes he even had moments of absent-mindedness during the court sessions and would consider whether he should have straight or curved cornices for his curtains” (Tolstoy 17). This represents Ilyich’s obsession with material goods. He even believes that items as simple as curtains must be perfectly placed so as to represent his status. Ilyich puts the curtains up in his house because he believes that this will advertise his status in society. At the same time, the curtains are shutting others out both literary and figuratively. This reflects Ilyich’s belief that others are nothing compared to him. It was also at this time that he started suffering from the pain that would lead to his decline. Therefore, these curtains also represent the error in his current way of thinking and prompt him to change. It can also be said that the curtains are a symbol of Ilyich’s lack of morality and a sign that his soul is tarnished. Towards the end of the story, Ilyich exclaims “I lost my life over that curtain as I might have done when storming a fort. Is that possible? How terrible and how stupid. It can’t be true! It can’t, but it is” (Tolstoy 28). This realization marks that in his period of insanity, he has finally recognized the error of his ways.

The tone of the story is used to emphasize the main idea. The way that the story is told provides the reader with an ominous feel as the reader knows that Ilyich is slowly degrading. This helps support the theme of the story because it shows that it is disadvantageous to live life with a dirty soul, because doing so will lead to an equally dirty death. The reader gets the feeling that if Ilyich had behaved morally, none of this would have befallen him. After Ilyich recognizes that the curtains represent all that made him evil, the narrator explains that “He would go to his study, lie down, and again be alone with *It*: face to face with *It*. And nothing could be done with *It* except to look at it and shudder” (Tolstoy 28). The use of the word “it” is a personification of the curtains. This creates an eerie feeling because it makes the reader feel that an inanimate object is somehow alive, and in fact, this may perfectly describe Ilyich’s view of them.

In conclusion, plot, symbolism, and tone was used in The Death of Ivan Ilyichto demonstrate the transformation of Ilyich’s soul from evil to caring. These literary elements help the reader understand that if Ilyich had recognized the values of others sooner, than his death would have been less painful. The plot of the story is meant to tell the story of Ilyich’s transformation from a vain man overly concerned with status to a dying and slightly insane man who recognizes the errors of his ways. This indicates that death is a great equalizer and that we all have the potential to change. The symbolism in the story was used to mark Ilyich’s moral transformation. At the beginning of the story, the curtains were his greatest pride because they represented his place in society. However, as he started degrading, he began to fear and reject them, symbolizing his personality change. Last, the tone of the story was used to emphasize both the plot and the symbolism used because the word choice created an eerie feel that allowed the reader to understand Ilyich’s mental instability more intensely. All of these story elements work together to show us that it is important for us to live good lives, otherwise we may befall the same fate as Ilyich did; lost and alone on a deathbed.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Essay Samples & Examples

7 Steps of Problem Solving, Essay Example

Introduction Every business, irrespective of its size or industry, has specific target goals to achieve. Thus, goal achievement entails managers making strategic decisions based on [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1398

Essay

Teens, Suicide and Bullying, Essay Example

The act of bulling in this case involved punching as well as kicking the young Pennsylvanian boy, Nadin Khoury, then hanging the boy on a [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 325

Essay

Minnie in “Trifles”, Essay Example

Susan Glaspell’s short story, “Trifles” proffer a narrative in which the murder of Mr. Wright at the hands of his wife and the ensuing investigation [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 573

Essay

Columbia Supplement, Essay Example

Columbia University is an appealing university because it is located in one of the urban center of American politics, as the Department of Political Science [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 379

Essay

John Brown: A Hero or a Terrorist, Essay Example

October 16th, 1859, the day when John Brown raided a U.S military arsenal located at the Harper’s Ferry in Virginia in anticipation of provoking a [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 581

Essay

To What Extent Do the Concepts That We Use Shape the Conclusions We Reach? Essay Example

Introduction Human beings seem to be always determined to define human understanding, and to identify the most correct means of achieving this. Some argue that [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1721

Essay

7 Steps of Problem Solving, Essay Example

Introduction Every business, irrespective of its size or industry, has specific target goals to achieve. Thus, goal achievement entails managers making strategic decisions based on [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1398

Essay

Teens, Suicide and Bullying, Essay Example

The act of bulling in this case involved punching as well as kicking the young Pennsylvanian boy, Nadin Khoury, then hanging the boy on a [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 325

Essay

Minnie in “Trifles”, Essay Example

Susan Glaspell’s short story, “Trifles” proffer a narrative in which the murder of Mr. Wright at the hands of his wife and the ensuing investigation [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 573

Essay

Columbia Supplement, Essay Example

Columbia University is an appealing university because it is located in one of the urban center of American politics, as the Department of Political Science [...]

Pages: 1

Words: 379

Essay

John Brown: A Hero or a Terrorist, Essay Example

October 16th, 1859, the day when John Brown raided a U.S military arsenal located at the Harper’s Ferry in Virginia in anticipation of provoking a [...]

Pages: 2

Words: 581

Essay

To What Extent Do the Concepts That We Use Shape the Conclusions We Reach? Essay Example

Introduction Human beings seem to be always determined to define human understanding, and to identify the most correct means of achieving this. Some argue that [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1721

Essay

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!