The Death of Ivan Ilych: Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning

The Death of Ivan Ilych

Within this essay, an overview will be provided of the central themes found within and woven together in Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. Additionally, examples will be provided of some of the symbols used throughout the story that help to further illustrate the thematic content found within the novella. Themes reviewed will include existentialism and man's struggle for meaning as well as death and spiritual rebirth.

Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning

One of the major themes found within Tolstoy's story of Ivan is the struggle faced by humans as they attempt to make rational decisions despite living within a world that can be largely ...

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a more than accurate summary is provided that helps the reader to understand Ivan's commitment to doing what was right

"Ivan Ilych finished the course well. Even when he was at the School of Law he was just what he remained for the rest of his life: a capable, cheerful, good-natured, and sociable man, though strict in the fulfillment of what he considered to be his duty: and he considered his duty to be what was so considered by those in authority. Neither as a boy nor as a man was he a toady, but from early youth was by nature attracted to people of high station as a fly is drawn to the light, assimilating their ways and views of life and establishing friendly relations with them. All the enthusiasms of childhood and youth passed without leaving much trace on him; he succumbed to sensuality, to vanity, and latterly among the highest classes to liberalism, but always within limits which his instinct unfailingly indicated to him as correct." (p. ....)

His philosophy and ...

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to create the perfect house only to find himself bruised and hurt after a fall clearly symbolized what Ivan was soon t learn in his confrontation of immortality. The perfect house and its reflection of societal values and trappings as symbols of a life lived without authenticity would prove to be insufficient as Ivan measured the true value and meaning in his life during his dying days.

Death and Spiritual Rebirth

Interwoven with man's search for meaning, death and spiritual rebirth also represent a major theme developed by Tolstoy in The Death of Ivan Ilych. Tolstoy was all knowing on the subject of death, having suffered his share including the death of a son while writing the ...

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The Death of Ivan Ilych: Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning. (2015, December 26). Retrieved October 22, 2021, from
"The Death of Ivan Ilych: Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning.", 26 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2021. <>
"The Death of Ivan Ilych: Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning." December 26, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2021.
"The Death of Ivan Ilych: Existentialism and the Struggle for Meaning." December 26, 2015. Accessed October 22, 2021.
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Added: 12/26/2015 04:09:06 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1369
Pages: 5

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