Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich

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KR Miller
Mr. Harrison
English 111
10 June 2008

Thesis: Just as Ivan Ilyich experienced in his lifetime, many people today also live hollow, materialistic lives and fail to realize the true meaning of life until it is too late.

1. Tolstoy describes Ivan Ilyich’s desire to conform to the standards of his society and his belief that he was leading right life. 2. Ivan adopts the values and beliefs of other members of high society believing those values are the mark of a successful life. a. He’s obsessed with society’s proper and decorous standards of conduct b. Fails to develop his own set of values. Adopts those expected by society. c. Stays detached and distant in his relationships.

d. Lives a false life but doesn’t realize it until he’s about to die. 3. Today’s teens and adults face similar challenges as Ivan did. a. Teenage peer pressure results in conformity and shallow relationships. b. Many adults feel success is measured by wealth and prestige. 4. Tolstoy’s message is as relevant today as when he wrote the novel. a. Don’t wait until it’s too late to live a worthy life. b. Look to your inner self. Ensure you live your life filled with compassion and self-sacrificing love. Don’t waste your life. KR Miller

Mr. Harrison
English 111
10 June 2008

Leo Tolstoy’s portrayal of Ivan Ilyich’s unquestioning quest to conform to the standards of his social circles, his failure to form meaningful relationships, and his delusive belief that he was leading the right life, is as applicable today as it was when Tolstoy wrote the story over one-hundred years ago.

Throughout his life, Ivan was convinced that a successful life was measured by adapting to, and meeting, the expectations of the bourgeois society in which he lived. Tolstoy described the standards that the society expected one to adhere to as “proper” and “decorous”. Ivan pursued those standards with blind ignorance much “as...
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