Psychological Importance in The Death of Ivan Illych
In The Death of Ivan Ilych Leo Tolstoy conveys the psychological importance of the last, pivotal scene through the use of diction, symbolism, irony. As Ivan Ilych suffers through his last moments on earth, Tolstoy narrates this man's struggle to evolve and to ultimately realize his life was not perfect. Using symbols Tolstoy creates a vivid image pertaining to a topic few people can even start to comprehend- the reexamination of one's life while on the brink of death. In using symbols and irony Tolstoy vividly conveys the manner in which Ilych views death as darkness unto his last moments of life when he finally admits imperfection. In the first paragraph of the ending chapter, Tolstoy uses simple language to explain world's view of Ivan Ilych's death. This language expressing such suffering serves as a stark contrast to the metaphorical language Tolstoy uses to describe the internal struggles Ivan Ilych feels. Tolstoy graphically describes Ivan Ilych's last three days as he screams and flails in complete misery but lyrical diction is markedly absent. But the opposite is true when he notes that Ivan Ilych has entered this state of misery with the same unsolved doubts that plagued him throughout his sickness. These how these doubts continue to ravage Ilych in his last hours. His family, observing only from the outside, simply watches in horror. Their impotence and immobility a stark contrast to Ivan's inner being. His family only sees him utter the simple letter "O" and occasionally "I won't" (Tolstoy 61), and is completely unable to grasp his struggle with death. They cannot see beyond the surface of his pain. Through Tolstoy's contrasting stylistic elements in his descriptions, he underscores the fact that the complex thoughts that actually afflict Ivan Ilych are below the surface and the psychological importance of this scene is Ivan Ilych's own internal struggle. Tolstoy also employs irony as he examines...
Bibliography: Tolstoy, Leo. "The Death of Ivan Ilych." The Kreutzer Sonata and Other short Stories.
Trans. Louise and Aylmer Maud. New York: Dover Publications, 1993.
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