The Death of Ivan Ilych and Gooseberries – Assignment Example

The paper "The Death of Ivan Ilych and Gooseberries" is an excellent example of an assignment on literature. The opening lines of the second chapter of Leo Tolstoy’s story “The Death of Ivan Ilych” reveal the horror of leading an ordinary life, which confirms sadly to the social norms related to success, happiness, and peace in life. The protagonist Ivan Ilych’s spends a lifetime to build an excellent career in law and thereby to fulfill the upper-middle-class dreams of earning name and fame along with social status in the form of a happy married life. However, his illness lets him realize how ridiculous it was to invest his creative energy for material success. He finds himself alone in his excruciation physical and psychological pain, and the only solace he gets is through Gerasim the peasant-boy servant who sacrifices his time and energy for his master. The indifference of his colleagues is made evident in the first chapter. The desperate cries of Ivan Ilych in his deathbed reveals how much he is tormented by his late realization that what he considered to be the greatest achievements in life were nothing other than floating bubbles. He witnesses them break one by one before the final escape – to death: “In place of death there was light. So that's what it is!" he suddenly exclaimed aloud. "What joy!" he is relieved beyond all his expectations, as he gets rid of the terrible ordinariness of his life. Anton Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” can be compared to the story of Tolstoy in its style, theme, and structure. Both stories evolve after a long introduction, building up the suspense so that readers and eager to know more about the life of the protagonist. In “Gooseberries”, the narrator of the story is Ivan Ivanich, a veterinary surgeon, who waits for the right moment to enlighten his friends with the unusual story of his brother Nicholai who spent a lifetime to fulfill his greatest dream in life – to own a gooseberry tree in his country home and to taste gooseberries pluck from that tree. In contrast to Ivan Ilych who enjoyed the conventional bliss of family life but failed to fulfill his inner needs, Nicholai misses a good family life because he marries a rich woman whom he does not really like, but experiences some moments of sheer joy when he tastes the first fruits from the gooseberry tree, though they were unripe and bitter. Both the stories deal with the relevant questions that relate to the ultimate meaning of life, success, happiness, and peace. While Checkov resorts to a first-person narrator in his story, Tolstoy makes use of third-person narration that succeeds to reveal the inner struggles of his protagonist effectively.