Essay on Historical aspects in Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Russia experienced a period of crisis at the end of the 19th century, and also at the beginning of the 20th century, as it was challenged by the emerging huge economies and powers in the west and other parts of the world (Nikolayevich 16). Russia was in a race to try and redefine its position in that competition. In the central Asia region, Russia was the most prominent expanding giant, but it could not engender enough resources to hold up the industrial growth that was so brisk. Russia was also losing to other countries the fight for commercial superiority (Nikolayevich 18).

Economic aspects

In the mid 19th century, Russia experienced slow economic growth, compared to other neighboring European countries. The slow economic growth was caused by Russia’s high population whose major occupation was primitive agriculture and resided in the rural areas (Nikolayevich 23). Russia’s economic situation began to stabilize towards the end of the 19th century, and early 20th century, because of the rapid industrial growth. The growth of the industrial sector attracted urban settlement by people who were seeking jobs in these industries. Alexander three’s autocratic policies were very useful in promoting economic growth (Nikolayevich 42). Another factor that contributed to speedy, economic growth in Russia was the improved infrastructure and the transport system of railways and roads. The infrastructure eased transport of goods and services from the production point to consumption point, as well as transporting people to and from the work place (Nikolayevich 51).

Political Aspects

This period was marked by a formation of political parties that were radical, and several revolutionary movements in Russia. This situation was facilitated by the high number of city bourgeoisie and the employed people who were creating an avenue for a supplementary, vibrant political atmosphere, and the formation of radical political parties. Tolstoy had a negative attitude towards the government due to the oppressive ruling by Alexander three (Nikolayevich 60).

Social Aspect

There was a widening gap between the rich and the poor because of the development of the bourgeoisie class. This class was highly condemned by those who believed in Marxism doctrines. This class was promoted by the growing urbanization, and industrialization. There was still a strong struggle between the proletariats.

Bureaucracy in society

Tolstoy observed that society was divided into two groups, which were the bourgeois and the peasant. The bourgeois owned means of production, and they were the ones who controlled it (Nikolayevich 62). They were at the top of societal stratification. He did not like the bourgeois because they were greedy and oppressive to the peasants. Although the peasants were lower in societal stratification, they were harmonies, and they coexisted with nature in a more sustainable manner. Ivan liked those people who lead a simple life like him.

In artificial life, people did not have any honesty and they lived in fear of death (Nikolayevich 77). Scwarts and praskovya cheated their conscious that they were living a good life that would pardon them any form of suffering and death. To them, only inappropriate living would result to suffering and pain at the end of life. Artificial life distorts reality and masks life (Nikolayevich 80). This masking hinders people from seeing the actual meaning of life, and it made them live in constant fear of death.

An authentic life is discernible by sympathy and compassion, and those people who live this life knows the real purpose of life, and they live it to the fullest. They show compassion to other people who are suffering, and they show them that suffering is part and parcel of life. People who adopt authentic life are not afraid of death (Nikolayevich 90).

In conclusion, Russia was faced with a period of crisis in the 19th century, but this period did not last for a long time. There are also two ways of living. One can choose to live an artificial life or an authentic life. The life you choose to live will give you different perspectives of the world.


Works Cited
Nikolayevich T.L. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. New Delhi: Random House Publishers India Pvt. Ltd, 2009. Print.