Tolstoy and Chekhov Death Essay

Pages: 4 (1391 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Death and Dying  (general)

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .

The man is even able to recall having a daughter that died, something that Marfa mentioned on her deathbed but of which Yakov had no memory. In facing his death, Yakov feels. He feels pain and sadness and loss but at least he feels something. Upon the moment when he must realize that he is a human being, he finally accepts his humanity.

The story of "The Death of Ivan Ilych" written by Leo Tolstoy has a similar point to make as the Chekhov story but provides a protagonist who is potentially more likeable. At first, the reader does not care for Ivan Ilych. Here is another greedy man who has spent his entire life trying to acquire financial gain, even at the expense of his familial relationships. In fact, the relationships that Ivan has with his family members are as strained as Yakov and his wife. Ilych goes so far as to inform the reader that he hates both his wife and his daughter and that the only affection he has at all is for his son and for a young, poor servant boy.

Ivan Ilych spends much of the story in the process of dying. He has injured himself and is to die from his injury, thus he is fighting bitterly the unseen force that will eventually take his life. At first, Ivan is angry at death for feeling like it is allowed to take his life. This is matched at his despair that although he had never really allowed himself to consider it before, he is going to die, no matter what he has done and no matter what he might do with the little time he has left. Tolstoy writes:

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Left alone Ivan Ilych groaned not so much with pain, terrible though that was, as from mental anguish. Always and for ever the same, always these endless days and nights. If only it would come quicker! If only what would come quicker? Death, darkness?...No, no! anything rather than death! (15).

TOPIC: Essay on Tolstoy and Chekhov Death Is Assignment

Ivan Ilych is not only terrified of his impending death, he is also terrified that he knows it is inevitable but that the moment of his finality can come at any moment, just like it can and will for everyone. Ilych reasons that he is and has been a good person. Therefore, he does not deserve to die. This shows the reader that underlying his knowledge of his own mortality, Ivan was not willing to believe himself capable of dying even though human biology says he must.

Like Yakov, Ivan finally comes to realize that he has led his life on a course that meant nothing in the end. He has devoted all of his energies to the acquisition of substance rather than trying to make a life of substance. Ivan believed that he was working towards all of the right things and finally comes the realization that in the pursuit of financial gain, he has lost the ability to understand what in life had true value, such as the life of a young girl or a potentially happy life with a woman.

In the final moment, Ivan looks at death not as an enemy, but as a friend. "There was no fear because there was no death. In place of death there was light" (13-14). This is exactly what Yakov, and his wife before him, have come to understand. The ones who are wasting their lives are those that think that they can somehow escape death based upon the actions that they perform in their lives.

Both Anton Chekhov in the story "Rothschild's Fiddle" and Leo Tolstoy in the story "The Death of Ivan Ilych" tells tales about men who are approaching the end of their lives. For each man, he looks back on his life and has a feeling of arrogance, that for whatever reason he has performed actions in his life which have made it so that he should not have to deal with death. Such incidences are meant for those who are undeserving of continued existence.

Works Cited:

Chekhov, Anton. "Rothschild's Fiddle." The Chorus Girls and Other Stories. 1920. Print.

Tolstoy, Leo. "The Death… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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