Study Guide

Lisa in The Death of Ivan Ilych

By Leo Tolstoy


Lisa, Ivan Ilych's daughter, is the first child he has with Praskovya Fedorovna and one of only two who survive. So far as we can tell, she's about twenty when Ivan dies. She's well educated (she was home-schooled) and attractive, and has her fair share of suitable suitors (including her eventual fiancé, Fedor Petrovich).

Unfortunately for Ivan, she seems to be a lot like her mother. This result is not surprising: her mother is the one who spends more time with the family (Ivan retreats from it). From all we can tell, Lisa will grow up to be just like her mother, which means that she'll likely be just as false.

So, when Ivan falls ill, Lisa shows him no more sympathy than her mother does. She's young and beautiful and out to have a good time, and she finds Ivan's sickness rather unpleasant. She's "impatient with illness, suffering, and death, because they interfered with her own happiness" (8.48). She shows that impatience when she terminates her family's awkward visit to Ivan before their trip to theater, eager to put an end to the awkwardness. She also complains to her mother about the way Ivan makes all of them suffer.

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