Humans have a proclivity for desiring luxuries and pleasure for the ultimate goal of having a happy life. It is this empowering reality that, sadly, leads to many people losing their life and leading exhausting lives in search of all the happiness they have ever desired. The theme is an unsettling fact that has been shared by all human centuries, and it has piqued the interest of writers and other literary work experts. The situation is similar in the book The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy, where the author portrays Ivan Ilych’s life as one filled with contradictions that eventually contribute to his death. Through a comparison of the lives that Ilych and Gerasim lived because while Illych represented a live full of the pursuit of happiness and perfection his counterpart engages in a simple lifestyle that from the authors primary factor for leading an ideal life.
Ilyich is perceived as a man whose primary strength was the desire to have a perfect life. The concept, which is referred to as the ideal life in other settings is the primary driving force that compels him to live to the extreme. On many occasion, Ivan thinks that he is leading a happy life and as such he oy wanted to have fun and engage in activities that ensured that he enjoyed life. The outcome is that he starts hating on his family and thinks that they are unpleasant. The narrator says, The pleasures connected with his work were pleasures of ambition; his social pleasures were those of vanity; but Ivan Ilych’s greatest pleasure was playing bridge” (Tolstoy, 2000, p. 35). The concept indicates the character’s strength because it meant that he would only pursue the great things in life in the process. The concept can also be perceived weaknesses because it led van into developing a hating personality that was non-selective as he started hating on his family members. It underscores the fact that the personality of desiring the fulfilling life ended up being a nuisance as it let to the erosion of character.
The effect presents a related issue where there is a lack of morals on the character’s side because he is presented as a self-centered person who was only mindful about himself and his enjoyment in life. Anyone who would start making claims about his life and the experience he was having would try to get rid of them regardless of the attachment that he had with such a person. The reader thus gets an impression of a person whose life is was only geared at perfection and who lacked respect for others.
The other key character whose traits are worth assessing in the book is Gerasim is in ironically the opposite of what the reader perceives of Ivan. The author presents Gerasim as a person is has all the goodness that a person could ever had and he does not have crazy ambitions. It appears that Gerasim’s understanding of the ideal life meant to live without the stress of having bad morals. Gerasim is thus an oasis of honesty and exercises himself in a kind manner. The author states, “Gerasim did it all easily, willingly, simply, and with a good nature that touched Ivan Ilych. Health, strength, and vitality in other people were offensive to him, but Gerasim’s strength and vitality did not mortify but soothed him” (Tolstoy, 2000, p. 32). The strength enables him to be a likeable person, though his stands what constitutes his weakness because he becomes so good that he does not fear or respect life. It makes him to perceive Ivan’s death as a timely and natural issue and does not give the man the care he ought to have given.
The characterization thus highlights the question of the morals that can be drawn from the writing. The author presents Gerasim as a perfect peasant which means that he was devoid of blemishes that are apparent when compared to Ivan. He was healthy and clean and because of being pure, he embodied the right morals that define a person. The author thus uses his as a sample that other people can relate to in the realization of the desire of a life well-lived. He does not get into conflicts with other expects when he only failed to act on Ivan’s sickness despite the apparent impending death. It cannot, however, be directed at any of the subjects because his behavior was clean. To sum it up, therefore, the character that Gerasim embodied is that of a person who is leading an ideal life. The ideal life in this context, however, differs from what the reader perceived of the main character, Ivan.
The two characters’ purist of the three levels of idea is thus described from a different perspective because they are two people with contrasting features. Gerasim succeeds in his quest of being so clean and leading the life he desired. Ivan is, meanwhile, the exact opposite and embodies an unlikable person who had developed hate and whose success had become the cause of his fall. Thus, both characters are successful in meeting their desires even though Ivan ended up dead in the end. It could be said that the reason for the death was that he went to the extreme in fulfilling his goals. However, while Gerasim found what he wanted, Ivan was unfortunate. Ivan was so frustrated that at one time he mentioned that he did not deserve to die as he was dying and more so got through the suffering that he was going through. Meanwhile, Gerasim’ case was that he realized all he ever wished for because of the strict life he led that enabled him to define his boundaries.
In summary, it is worth highlighting that the book is a literary piece that explores a theme that has manifested throughout the generations. The two characters presented lead contrasting lifestyle that lead the to perceive life differently. The irony in comparison establishes Ivan as an egocentric person who was full of hate because of the luxurious and expensive life he preferred Meanwhile, Gerasim is the exact opposite and through his humility, he managed to realize the true perfect life that Ivan had wished for even though from a different perspective. The book is informative to the current generation and seeks to explain that while we may desire to lead perfect lives, we should always strive to ensure that it is in line with the moral code of conduct to avoid suffering adverse consequences.
Tolstoy, L. (2000). The Death of Ivan Ilyich.