The Covert Religious Significance in ?The Death of Ivan Ilyich?.
The initial interpretation of ?The Death of Ivan Ilyich? by Leo Tolstoy can be viewed as a lesson on the true meaning of life and how one should live. On further examination I have found that Tolstoy embedded a deeper religious meaning within the story. Unless the reader is familiar with biblical scriptures, Tolstoy?s approach will be lost within the contents of the sentences.
Tolstoy contrasts the life and death of Christ with that of the character Ivan Ilyich. Even more significantly, the story is a replicate of the scripture ?The Story of Job?.
In many cases it appears as if ?The Story of Job? was a great influence on Tolstoy when he wrote ?The Death Of Ivan Ilyich?. Despite the differences in the causes of illnesse between the characters of Job and Ivan Ilyich, the reactions and circumstances surrounding the events are strikingly familiar. To begin, Job and Ivan were very prosperous men by their own making before their illness. In the case of Ivan, his illness could be ideally blamed on his ignorance on how he should have lived his life. ?It was as if I had been going downhill while I imagined I was going up? (31). Job on the other hand, was stricken with his misfortunes for the challenge of Satan to God, challenging Job?s faithfulness (Job 1:6-12). With all differences aside, after Ivan Ilyich became ill he found himself isolated in loneliness even though he was ?in the midst of a populous town and surrounded by numerous acquaintances and relations? (32). Job became alienated from family and friends as well: ?My kinsfolk and companions neglect me, and my friends are wholly estranged? (Job 19:14). A tragedy worse than sickness befell upon Job and Ivan. Neither character knew the specific cause of their illness; family and friends blamed both of them for the cause of their illness. Although this was an attempt to comfort them, it was deemed less than useful.
Equally important is the...
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