The Death of Ivan Ilych
by Leo Tolstoy
The Death of Ivan Ilych Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Alymer Maude's translation.
Praskovya Fedorovna came of a good family, was not bad looking, and had some little property. Ivan Ilych might have aspired to a more brilliant match, but even this was good. He had his salary, and she, he hoped, would have an equal income. She was well connected, and was a sweet, pretty, and thoroughly correct young woman. To say that Ivan Ilych married because he fell in love with Praskovya Fedorovna and found that she sympathized with his views of life would be as incorrect as to say that he married because his social circle approved of the match. He was swayed by both these considerations: the marriage gave him personal satisfaction, and at the same time it was considered the right thing by the most highly placed of his associates. (2.15-16)
It doesn't sound as if Ivan Ilych is madly in love with Praskovya Fedorovna. It's more like he marries her because other people tell him it's a good thing to do and he doesn't have any objections. What he likes about her are her external qualities – she's got some money, and she's what a good wife is supposed to be.
The preparations for marriage and the beginning of married life, with its conjugal caresses, the new furniture, new crockery, and new linen, were very pleasant until his wife became pregnant – so that Ivan Ilych had begun to think that marriage would not impair the easy, agreeable, gay and always decorous character of his life, approved of by society and regarded by himself as natural, but would even improve it. But from the first months of his wife's pregnancy, something new, unpleasant, depressing, and unseemly, and from which there was no way of escape, unexpectedly showed itself. (2.18)
Ivan thinks of his marriage and his family primarily in terms of himself. It's supposed to give him pleasure. He's not at all prepared to face the challenges of living with and caring for another person.
His wife, without any reason – de gaiete de coeur as Ivan Ilych expressed it to himself – began to disturb the pleasure and propriety of their life. She began to be jealous without any cause, expected him to devote his whole attention to her, found fault with everything, and made coarse and ill-mannered scenes. (2.19)
It's unclear what ultimately changes Praskovya Fedorovna mood. Is it just the added moodiness that can come with pregnancy, or is it something else? We might wonder whether Praskovya Fedorovna doesn't have good reason to be upset. It sounds as if her main complaint is that she's not getting enough attention from Ivan. We can't quite tell whether the narrator is representing things from his own perspective or from Ivan's. It sounds like it might be the latter.