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What Is Art? Essay, Research Paper

Tolstoy wrote, in What is Art? If a man is infected by the author s condition of soul, if he feels this emotion and this union with others, then the object which has effected this is art: but if there be no such infection, if there be not this union with the same author and others who are moved by the same work-then it is not art?

The Death of Ivan Ilych is art by this criteria. Tolstoy s writing keeps my attention throughout The Death of Ivan Ilych and awakens my soul. I have never read any literature of Leo Tolstoy, and I could not walk away from the story, I wondered what happened next. It makes me realize how important life is to be treated. This work of art expresses to me Tolstoy s views on life and death. The short story gives examples of how a person can live life the wrong way. In reading the The Death of Ivan Ilych , many feelings stir up inside me because I can relate his experience with my grandfather that died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Tolstoy reaches the soul because he describes Ivan s life occurrence through his spiritual revelation. He observed a heartbreaking death of his brother. In reading, The Death of Ivan Ilych Tolstoy portrays Ivan as a thoughtless and selfish man. I see Ivan as a frightened individual; afraid of what life has to offer. Ivan experienced happiness only in his childhood (Tolstoy 1179). He decides to go to the School of Law. He marries because he feels it is right not because he is in love, and his peers approve. I feel for Ivan because everyone knows that a person cannot be happy if one marries for the reasons Ivan did. After all, should not the basis of a marriage be love? Love brings happiness to our lives. Ivan does not have the happiness that love could bring. I get the impression that Ivan does not receive much love throughout his life; which makes it very hard to show love for his wife. He is incapable of loving someone because he does not know how to love. Ivan does try to give these things to his family. However, He tries to impress his colleagues. Ivan decorates his house with antiques, carefully scrutinizing as a means to pretend to have money. Ivan begins to focus on his career because of his unhappiness at home. Ilych finds that the only way to manage his surprisingly complex home life is to remain detached. Of married life, he demands only the conveniences it could provide for him.

Life is precious. Sometimes people do not realize it until it is almost too late. Soon after Ivan slipped off a ladder, he develops a mysterious disease that causes him immense pain and mental anguish. He begins to realize that he does not live the life he should live. He begins to understand the real meaning of life, when he is in great pain, and only Gerasim will assist him in his most basic needs, by providing him care and understanding. This is a new concept for Ivan because he is usually the one providing. As time goes on, he starts to experience exhausting pain and sorrow. Ivan begins to re-evaluate his life until his final hours, allowing himself to confront his pending death with greater honor than he has ever achieved in his life. Towards the end of his life, he begins to shut everyone out to spare them from his pain and suffering. I do not believe he does this on purpose, I feel that he tries to shield them; a few times he wants to say one thing but, other words come out instead. I feet that he is afraid; the thought of dying becomes very frightening to any human being.

In reading The Death of Ivan Ilych many feelings stir up inside because I can relate to the life that Ivan lead with the way that my grandfather lived his life. My father s parents live in Italy, so it is a real treat to go there every summer and visit them. My grandfather is a very mean man with no compassion in his heart. He only thinks of himself. While he is still providing for his family, he is an alcoholic. Marriage to him consists of dinner at home, a homemaker, and a bed. He never has any time for his children, nor does he make time for us, his grandchildren. He r is either at work, eating, sleeping or at the bar. Years later, my grandfather is diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. The doctors do not give him long and tell him he needs to stop drinking. He stops drinking, so we think, and becomes a different person. My family becomes very happy. The change is wonderful; it feels as if we have a new grandfather. This does not last long; one day I see my grandfather leaving the bar drunk. I am devastated, but decide not to tell my father when I return from my trip from visiting his family. I know that it will hurt my father very deeply. Six months later my grandfather dies. They find my grandfather in an alley, in drunken stupor. My father is devastated, to say the least, I feel guilty and cannot even face him. One day, my dad is crying and I asked him what is wrong, he replies he cannot understand how my grandfather could die so soon, when the doctors say he had more time to live, when he stopped drinking. I then tell my father what I had seen. I know my father believed me and he knew how hard it is for me to not say anything because I had such a big mouth at fifteen. Reading The Death of Ivan Ilych reminds of the need to keep family close to you. Make the time to spend with them; share with them and most of all let them know you love them. My grandfather never displayed any affection, and when he died, he died a lonely man. I am not sure if it is because he does not know how to show us love or affection or if he is just mean. I will never know now because he never gave us the chance. He tried when he found out he was dying, but it was too late then.

Reading the literature of Leo Tolstoy was a wonderful but sad experience. Although, I could not walk away from the story because I wondered what will happen next. It makes me realize how important life is treated. A person can decide how he or she will want to live life. He or she have a choice and should not wait until the end to make life-alternating decisions. Many people wait until they know that their time is coming to experience their spiritual revelation. Some even push their dear ones aside to spare them from the pain rather than having them share the pain with them. In reading The Death of Ivan Ilych many feelings stir up inside because I can relate his experience with the way my grandfather lived his life. In reading this story, I also realized that I will always tell my family that I love them.

Work Cited

Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilych. Ed. Rubenstein Roberta and Charles R. Larson. World of Fiction. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1993. 1148-1184


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