The Christain Theme of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich attacks the pursuit of material possessions. The Ilyich family bases itself upon the unsure foundation of wealth. As Ivan ascends the rungs of the corporate ladder, he acquires new possessions and articles. After joining the Civil Service, Ivan buys "new fashionable belongings" at the "very best shops" to keep up appearances (100). For his wedding to Fiorodovna, Ivan buys "new furniture, new crockery, new linen[s]" to be proper or comme il faut. He tries in vain to keep up "appearances as ordained by public opinion" (116). None of these niceties are needed: Ivan buys them purely for the pleasure of owning them and in attempt to fit in with those of his class. He succeeds instead of obtaining trinkets, not jewels, and there is nothing entirely nouveau in his possession but more or less what is common to others in his social position.
Accompanying Ivan Ilyich's endeavor to obtain treasures, is also his lust for power. The necessity of money seems to always go hand-in-hand with power. The two have a ubiquitous and inseparable bond. Previous to his seat as examining magistrate, Ivan Ilyich treated the "dependent folk affably, almost as comrades" (112). However, with newfound authority and control on his side he soon feels that "everyone - everyone without exception, even the most important and self-sufficient - [are] in his hands" (113). This perception grows larger and larger in Ivan's mind as his jobs become increasingly important.
Along with the two...