Tolstoy's The Death Of Ivan Ilyich

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Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis explores the concept of a person’s behavior being controlled by their unconscious and conscious mind. Almost all of the literary works that exist tend to have a conflict that pertains to either the plot or the character. In Leo Tolstoy’s fiction novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, he writes about the life of a fictional character named Ivan Ilyich and his conflicts that he deals with throughout his adulthood. Tolstoy specifically writes this novella in an interesting order by beginning the story after Ivan’s death and then continuing the story before his death. Another significant character in the story is Ivan’s son Vasya. Out of Ivan’s two children, Vasya seems to be the closest to Ivan and also resembles…show more content…
In “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, Vasya loses his father at a fairly young age. A foreshadowing can come from Ivan’s death, where Vasya will have a hard time coping and accepting the death of his father. Just like in the story Oedipus, Oedipus is already doomed from the start, because of the prophecy of him killing his own father and marrying his mother. Oedipus also had a hard time accepting the fact that he killed his own father. Both of the fathers in “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and Oedipus had a death that was unavoidable and a death that impacts their sons. Vasya did not seek after his mother like how Oedipus did, but he did have a focus on his father. Ivan’s friend Peter, sees a strong resemblance that Vasya has of Ivan. Peter describes the look that Ivan had in his face back then, “His tear-stained eyes had in them the look that is seen in the eyes of boys of thirteen or fourteen who are not pure-minded” (745). From Peter’s description, Ivan used to be pure, but a sad event led him to face the harsh reality of the world. The comparison of how Ivan looked back then and how Vasya has the same look that Ivan had, goes back to the foreshadowing that he will also have to learn about the impure things of…show more content…
Just like in Freud’s theories on psychoanalytical criticism, he believes that fear can naturally come from the unconscious mind and the feeling of realization can come from the conscious mind. In a sense, Tolstoy himself was also a father and he could be connecting his life with the characters. He probably understood that some people felt fear towards death. So he writes this story to give a lesson that death is something that is not to be afraid

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