Study Guide

Michael Danilovich in The Death of Ivan Ilych

By Leo Tolstoy

Michael Danilovich

Michael Danilovich is Ivan's primary doctor. He comes to the house on a regular basis to make examinations and administer ineffective treatments. Like all the other doctors in the story (he's the only one given a name), Michael Danilovich comes across to Ivan as false. He's unwilling to tell Ivan that he's going to die, even when it's obvious. Instead, when he's around Ivan he tries to act as if everything were just going along as usual, trying to be light-hearted and funny. This backfires spectacularly. When he does talk about Ivan's condition, it's only in terms of his appendix, kidneys, and absorption. Danilovich never once talks about whether or not Ivan's going to die and how Ivan might feel about that. Ivan seems to be just another case for him, more of an interesting medical puzzle than a person.