Comparison Of The Bourgeoisie Oppression In The Death Of Ivan Ilyich And Communist Manifesto

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

“The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, written by Leo Tolstoy, recounts the story of the main character, Ivan Ilyich, who is a judge at the Court of Justice in St. Petersburg, Russia. The man lives his life just thinking about social status, in which he has superficial relationships, as he does not have real friends and his family do not care much for him. While reading the text, it is possible to realize that his wife, Praskovya, is a pretentious woman, because their marriage is just a business, as they are not in love, and the wife is clearly unhappy.

On the other side, there is the Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which defends the participation of the proletarians in the European economy and politics, and criticizes the bourgeoisie too. Using inference to draw a comparison between the texts, is noticeable that “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” represents what the authors of the Manifesto talk about: the bourgeoisie, by mirroring this through its characters thoughts and actions.

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels show that the bourgeoisie is oppressive, self-interested, and distanced from family, as stated in, ‘The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.’ During the narrative of the book, Leo Tolstoy discusses about Ivan’s family reaction with his death, as they say that they are very sad, but they are just interested in the money from his death.

For example, his wife is making a big drama, crying, and screaming, which can be inferred in the words, “She stopped weeping and, looking at Peter Ivanovich with the air of a victim, remarked in French that it was very hard for her. He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours. For the last three days he screamed incessantly. It was unendurable. I cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off. Oh, what I have suffered,” but in reality, she is thinking about the cash.

In contrast to this, there is Gerasim, who represents the proletarians. He is the only character who really cares about Ivan, which is clearly evident in, “There was no one in the anteroom, but Gerasim darted out of the dead man’s room, rummaged with his strong hands among the fur coats to find Peter Ivanovich’s and helped him on with it.” According to the Communist Manifesto, the proletarians form the class most wronged by all the industrialization promoted by the bourgeoisie, since it claims that, “The work of the proletarians lost, with the extension of the machinery and the division of labor, all the autonomous character and, therefore, all the attractions for the workers.”

In other words, the workers became only soldiers of the great chiefs, and the manufacturing labor lost its value. At this point, it is important to note that the more modern industry developed, the more women gained a place in the labor market. As everything was done by machines, it did not really matter what the sex, or age of the worker was. In conclusion, inferring from the quote, Gerasim reflects the hard working, empathetic proletariat, as he is described as having `strong hands.`

So, going back to the story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, during the narrative, the author shows how the character is dealing with his disease. In the beginning, Ivan does not want to believe that he is dying. He is afraid about death. Ivan gets shocked, because he has never thought about how things would be after his death. ‘Then what does it mean? Why? It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible.

But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong! The author develops Ivan llyich’s character as an angry and bitter man to a man, who begins to see the superficiality in his life. In the beginning of Chapter 5, he does not want to believe that he is dying, but during the other chapters, Ivan starts to accept his disease and realizes that Gerasim and Vasya (his son) are the only ones, who care about him and his death. The character is a man who hides his true feelings, and struggles to discard his social mask even when he is dying.

All of this has made him into a sour person, as depicted by, ”Ivan Ilyich wanted to weep, wanted to be petted and cried over, and then his colleague Shebek would come, and instead of weeping and being petted, Ivan Ilyich would assume a serious, severe, and profound air, and by force of habit would express his opinion on a decision of the Court of Cassation and would stubbornly insist on that view. This falsity around him and within him did more than anything else to poison his last days.” In conclusion, Ivan Ilyich reacts strongly against the values of the bourgeoisie, which is almost synonymous with his illness, and is killing him, and in this way Tolstoy creates a profound image of what the Communist Manifesto describes.

In conclusion, analyzing the two texts, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and the Communist Manifesto, it is possible to realize that at certain points, they are very similar. The story written by Leo Tolstoy shows that the main character, Ivan, lives a superficial life, just thinking about social status. But the real significance of life is about live without thinking about others’ opinion, enjoy family and friends, be with real people. Already the text written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels defends the participation of proletarians on political and economic issues. The main relationship between the works is that the Communist Manifesto talks about the ignorance of bourgeoisie, and its interests, while “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” illustrates this bourgeoisie through Ivan’s family, and the proletarians are represented by Gerasim.

So, even they are of different genres, it is possible to see through inference that Tolstoy brings to life a strong warning against the superficiality of the bourgeoisie of the time, as described in the Communist Manifesto, in a way that goes far beyond the limits of the document. In sum, Tolstoy, challenges a reflection on this issue in society today, as described in Psalms 115:4, “Their idols are made of silver and gold – they are man-made. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,eyes, but cannot see, 6 ears, but cannot hear,noses, but cannot smell, 7 hands, but cannot touch,feet, but cannot walk.They cannot even clear their throats. 8 Those who make them will end up like them,as will everyone who trusts in them,” showing the necessity to treat others with the same value, which we would like them to treat us.

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