Perfection or Society's Embedding

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Aminata Siby
March 3rd, 2013
English 10 (F Band)
Perfection or Society’s embedding?
Society embeds a view that one has to be perfect, in order to fit in. This standard of perfection causes one to drift away from the real world, thus, causing one to become materialistic. Because Ivan Ilyich lives in a society where perfection matters, in The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, he does everything to live in a world of flawlessness. He does this in order to fit into this community, causing him to isolate the friends and family around him. In The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Tolstoy develops a protagonist who seeks flawlessness in order to fit into society, thus, leading to accepting the fear of death. This perfection displays the effect of society’s standards of living the perfect life in order for one to fit in. Tolstoy’s symbolic use of the black sack helps to mirror Ivan’s fear of death due to his seeking of perfection. Ivan’s fear of death becomes evident through his continuous dreams of the black sack and how “he was afraid of that sack, yet wanted to fall through; struggled, yet cooperated. And then suddenly he lost his grip and fell-and regained consciousness” (Tolstoy 99). The black sack symbolizes death and Ivan is slowly realizing what’s to come. Ivan wants to go deeper into to the sack to find out what’s there, but he fears it. He wants to fall through because he is tired of the pain from living the “perfect” life, but he fears it because he hasn’t accepted reality and death. In this passage the author connotes the word “afraid” in order to show the fear Ivan has for society, as well. He fears society because he wants acceptance from those around him. The black sack is also a moment of catharsis for Ivan Ilyich. Ivan wants to free himself from all the pain created from this perfection. This is a sign of a slight breakthrough, Ivan is ready to let go of the “perfect” life. Tolstoy symbolic use of the game bridge helps to mirror Ivan’s life as a whole and...
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