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The False Life of Ivan Ilyich

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What would be your reaction if you live an entire life with false friends and a false wife? This is the reality of the bourgeoisie represented in the story, they are oppressive, self-interest, egotistical, distanced from their family, superficial and shallow. Ivan was like this, but in the final, he discovers how to live better, improve his defects and live the end of a life well.

At the beginning of the text, we see the futility of Ivan before society, friends, and wife. ‘Each one thought or felt: Well, he’s dead but I’m alive!”. This stretch shows us that the society does not care to Ivan’s death, it is just a daily incident, they just care to themselves, and for power, once they see in Ivan’s death an opportunity to get his job. “Praskovya Fedorovna recognizing Peter Ivanovich sighed, went close up to him, took his hand, and said: ‘I know you were a true friend to Ivan Ilyich…’ and looked at him awaiting some suitable response.” Now, we see they two are just acting out because both of them do not like Ivan, they just want power and status. Peter was happy with his death, because the job of judge was empty, and his wife does not like him. ‘Oh, terribly! 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!’ Praskovya Fedorovna does not love her partner, rather than helps her husband when he was suffering, she just stays away because he screams of pain were “unendurable”. It shows us, again, how the bourgeois society does not have feelings and are shallow. By these parts from the text, we see the real face of the bourgeoisie and how nobody cares to him and his life.

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In the course of the text, the reader knows how bad Ivan was. ‘Praskovya Fedorovna came of a good family, was not bad looking, and had some little property. Ivan Ilyich might have aspired to a more brilliant match, but even this was good.” Ivan chooses his wife by the status, he did not ever love her, just married with Praskovya because she was from a good family, had some little property, etc. His decisions in life are exactly the bourgeois way of life (do not care for feelings and other persons, they just care to themselves and to status, financial gain). “But this discomfort increased and, though not exactly painful, grew into a sense of pressure in his side accompanied by ill humor. And his irritability became worse and worse and began to mar the agreeable, easy, and correct life that had established itself in the Golovin family. Quarrels between husband and wife became more and more frequent, and soon the ease and amenity disappeared and even the decorum was barely maintained.” Ivan was not prepared for his disease, he was not prepared for die, so, when it starts to begin in his life, he got desperate. For him, ‘Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,’ had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself.” He was really desperate when death comes near. “Ivan Ilyich saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair.” This stretch just confirms what we have seen in the previous chapter, Ivan desperate with death and it affects all the people around him, his wife, friends, etc. So, he was not prepared for an illness and death, but he needs to improve this and learn to deal with it.

In the other hand, not everyone is evil and selfishness, one example of this is Gerasim, his servant, is the only that cares for him, he has compassion for his boss and really cares him. ‘It’s God will. We shall all come to it someday,’ said Gerasim. Gerasim, his serve, is the only person that told him the true, because everybody, his friends, his wife, were lying and saying that, if he takes care, he will live, but Gerasim was the only person that said that he gonna die, everybody gonna die and he is not the exception. “Gerasim was a clean, fresh peasant lad, grown stout on town food and always cheerful and bright. At first the sight of him, in his clean Russian peasant costume, engaged on that disgusting task embarrassed Ivan Ilyich.” It shows us that he was sheer, he was not a rich and bourgeois guy, he did not want status, power, and money, like Ivan. He represents the proletarian in the text, because he is a worker, an honest guy, that has compassion, empathy and cares for the others, his relationships are real, not like Ivan’s and bourgeois relationships. “His son had always seemed pathetic to him, and now it was dreadful to see the boy’s frightened look of pity. It seemed to Ivan Ilyich that Vasya was the only one besides Gerasim who understood and pitied him.

They all sat down and again asked how he was.” Now, Ivan finally improves his defect, his selfishness, and learn to have feelings, to love the others and does not care just for him.

Summing up, the society does not care to Ivan’s ill and the society, like him, cares to the power, the money, the status, as every bourgeois. But, Gerasim is honest and good, and then, Ivan can see how to live better, without his false friend and his false wife, and finally feels the love, from his son, Vladimir.


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