“Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Lev Tolstoy: first chapter analysis

December 9, 2020 by Essay Writer

In the first chapter, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy gives the reader almost all the problems of society and human nature, which it hurt in those days, is sick now, and we will not disassemble – it will continue to hurt.    Indifference – the first human problem from which there is no, and never will be a panacea, is determined from the very first lines of the story. His characters learn about the death of his comrade, not personally, not from friends, but from the morning newspaper. For example, Peter Ivanovich was, you might say, a childhood friend and afterward was a schoolmate, and also learned about the death of a loved one from the newspaper. Indifference is not the best indicator of the human essence? Hypocrisy is insolent, disgusting hypocrisy.


Tolstoy preferred to declare about human hypocrisy, not hiding anything, but directly without extra modesty and veils: “What is, what has died; but I’m not here, “though everyone, or trusted, while close friends, the so-called friends of Ivan Ilyich, at the same time think that now they need to fulfill very boring duties of decency and a train for a funeral service and a widow with a condolence visit.”


The situation in which Tolstoy sets Ivan Ilyich is not exceptional … From the point of view of Tolstoy, the crisis of views and the crisis of conscience, whatever it is, is not exceptional, but rather a morally normal state of a person. This is what a person needs to open his eyes to the world around him and to himself, that allows him to know what is the truth and lies.


In the exposition part of the story, the author shows a special interest in the knowledge of human destiny “under the sign of death” and resorts to receiving composite inversion, depending on the situation. From the very beginning, conveying different views on what happened, Tolstoy confronts the mysterious significance of man’s departure from the earthly world – and the ordinary-pragmatic perception of this event. Through commentary behind speeches, thoughts, incompletely perceived mental movements of characters, there is captured the free and involuntary alienation of modern consciousness from the reality of death, what I think Tolstoy reflected on the author opinion at those times.

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