Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Death of Ivan Ilych. here is my paper.

Can I please get some feedback? Peer editing across the Pacific Ocean, Whee!

In The Death of Ivan Ilych, by Leo Tolstoy, the title character, Ivan Ilych, is a seeming well to do Russian politician. Somehow, Ivan develops a sickness, that ends up being fatal. The book begins with his funeral, and the continues from his birth up until the time of his death again. Ivan Ilych's sickness is a metaphor for the way he wasted his life.
The first sign that he wasted his life is shown through his 'friends' relationship with him. The people that the speaker calls Ivan Ilych's friends, are most certainly not his friends. The first example of this is when his colleagues first "...reciev[e] news of Ivan Ilych's death, the first thought of each of these gentlemen...was of the changes and promotions..." (pg. 96, Tolstoy). What close friend thinks first of what sort of promotion they get and not of how unfortunate it is that their colleague has died. Ivan Ilych is said to be "liked by them all" but instead his death "aroused...the complacent feeling that , 'it is he who is dead and not I'" (pg. 96, pg. 96). In someways that is just a 'survival of the fittest' mentality , but that doesn't mean that these 'friends' should have to "...sacrifice [their] usual nap" in order to go to the funeral (pg. 97). Paying last respects to ones' friends isn't a painstaking task, it is simple common curtsy, that shouldn't even be thought about in the case of ones' friends. In the speaker's description of the funeral, only two of Ivan Ilych's colleagues are named, Peter Ivanovich and Schwartz. These two come to the funeral, though reluctantly, but even though they go, they don't treat it at all as one should treat a funeral of a friend. When Schwartz first sees Peter, he "winked at him, as if to say: 'Ivan Ilych has made a mess of things-not like you and me" (pg. 97). He sounds like a true friend. Peter realizes that Schwartz wants to "arrange where they should play bridge that evening" (pg. 97). That is simply not the conduct of a person at a friend's funeral. There are three supposed facts in that sentence. Schwartz and Peter are people and they are at a person's funeral, which means that the flaw is in the word 'friend'. This means that they weren't really friends. Where could they relationship of these colleagues have fallen apart? At the place where it started: work.
Ivan Ilych's drive to succeed in work and the way he goes about it attributes to his pain. Ivan Ilych works very hard on having a good image, both personal, and of items (more on that later.) Upon graduating from college, he "ordered himself clothes at... the fashionable tailors, hung a medallion... on his watch-chain, had a farewell dinner with his comrades at [a] first-class restaurant," and buys a lot of personal belongings, "all purchased at the best shops" (pg. 105, pg. 105). His first job is only so because of "his father's influence" and so it doesn't actually seem as if Ivan did anything to deserve it. Thus, all of this very fancy clothes and such are necessary to make sure that he can fit the part. Through out his career, he is constantly seeking a higher paying job. Many years into his career, he goes searching for "a post with a salary of five thousand rubles a year. He was no longer bent on any particular department, or tendency, or kind of activity" (pg. 113). He doesn't care about the work, all he wants is the money, presumably so that he can improve his image. When he is considering getting married, "he was swayed by both these considerations: the marriage gave him personal satisfaction, and at the same time it was considered the right thing by the most highly placed of his associates" (pg. 109). There is no mention here of him loving the person to whom he is considering marrying, just satisfaction and it being the right thing from people higher up than him. In other words, it seems as if he is getting married to appeal more to those people in high positions than him.
Ivan Ilych's marriage and his relationships with the members of his family show another way he has wasted his life. His marriage, and thus the relationship with his wife, from the beginning, appears to be a terrible mistake. After the honeymoon period (and thus presumably rather early on in their marriage), Ivan's wife gets pregnant, and "from the first months of his wife's pregnancy, something new, unpleasant, depressing, and unseemly, and from which there was no way of escape, unexpectedly showed itself" (pg. 109). The only thing that has changed in his life is his marriage and the appearance of a child, which means that the cause for this "unpleasant, depress[ion]" is these new things. In order to get around these things, "he tried to ignore his wife's disagreeable moods , continued to live in his usual easy and pleasant way" (PG. 109). She, like any woman who is put in this situation, gets incredibly angry and finally, "he submitted-that is, till he stayed at home and was bored just as she was" (pg. 110). The two of them are bored together, yet they don't try to get around this, they just sit at at home and be bored. If two people who truly cared for each at were bored together at the same place, they could change this in a heart beat by working together, but as they don't care for each other, they remain bored, and in Ivan's case, "alarmed" (pg. 110). Their child gets born, and more and more does Ivan feel the need to get away from his family life, "As his wife grew more irritable and exacting and Ivan Ilych transferred the center of gravity of his life more and more to his official work, so did he grow to...bec[o]me more ambitious than before" (pg. 110). As this keeps up, again as she should, Ivan's wife gets more and more cranky, and "within a year of his wedding, Ivan Ilych had realized that very intricate and difficult affair...which in order to perform one's duty, that is, to lead a decorous life approved by society, one must adopt a definite life attitude just as towards one's official duties" (pg. 110). One very interesting part of this passage is that there are two "duties" and they are different: one's official duties, which is to say work, and the duties which Ivan has put a great deal of effort into, "to lead a decorous life approved by society." The latter is certainly not at all a duty in the way that work is, and for this, Ivan is wasting his life spending his time doing this, instead of say, trying to make his wife happy. More children come, and his wife gets more and more irritated, and Ivan spends more and more time at work. And "so Ivan Ilych lived for seventeen years after his marriage" (pg. 112). He lives this terrible life for 17 years and never tries to do anything to fix it, just get away from his problems, which is a terrible waste of his relationships. He is constantly seeking promotions and better jobs so that he can have more money to support his duties, as opposed to his official duties or familial duties. At one point, he final gets the job he wants and buys a new house. In order to turn this house into a house that would show he "[led] a decorous life approved by society", he begins to furnish the house with a great number of accessories and other fancy house items.
The various furnishings for his new house show Ivan Ilych's drive to appear better, rather than to better himself. Throughout the book, there are numerous references to the furnishings in his house. In the beginning, at his funeral, a great deal of effort goes into describing the surroundings , "a coffin-lid covered with cloth of gold, ornamented with gold cord and tassels, that had been polished up with metal powder" (pg. 99). In particular, the drawing-room, "upholstered in pink cretonne... The whole room was full of furniture and knick-knacks" (pg. 100). He "himself superintended the arrangements, chose the wallpapers, supplementer the furniture...preferably...antiques... and...the upholstering " (pg. 115). He is spending way too much time caring about how he will appear to society, then caring for his family. The place on Ivan's body where much of the pain is as he is dying came from a wound that received while decorating his house. While "showing the he wanted the hangings draped, he made a false step and slipped, but...only knocked his side against the knob of the window frame" (pg. 116). This injury is a metaphor for how in the long run trying to make ones appearance really pretty without bettering the insides, which relates to how Ivan Ilych is wasting his relationships, and thus his life.

can someone please tell me how to make an intro and a conclusion in about 100 words?


At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In line 2 try "seemingly well-to-do."

In line 3, "funeral, and then" (you're missing the 'n')

para 2 'receive' check spelling

At 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

last paragraph

wound received
He is spending...THAN caring(not then)
in the long run (set off the clause with commas)
Last sentence awkward.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous roger said...

Very interesting but too dense. Try breaking the main body of the text into paragraphs--makes it easier reading and may cause you to sharpen your own thinking.You show some good thinking of your own. Keep it up.

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god; is that a Hapern paper? I'm sorry...

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Peter said...

You are sorry is in like, it sucks?

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As in you have to write one. I didn't read it, but I'm sure it doesn't suck.

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