Ivan Ilyich Transcendentalism

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The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy and the film “Into the Wild” shows two individuals lives that are heavily influenced by the ideas of transcendentalism. Though both individuals, Chris and Ivan, do not live in similar ways, they both display similar aspects. Chris shows that transcendentalism through isolation physically, while Ivan isolates himself mentally. The main idea of transcendentalism, commonly known from the writings of Thoreau and Emerson, is shown throughout “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy and the film “Into the Wild”. In the film, “Into the Wild”, Chris McCandless, and Ivan Ilych in “The Death of Ivan Ilych” have different mindsets on the importance of money. Chris sets out on a journey to Alaska to be free from …show more content…
While sitting at the restaurant table, Chris’s parents afford to buy Chris a new car. Chris exclaimed, “I don’t want a new car. I don’t want anything. These things, things, things, things.” (ITW) Growing up, Chris’ parents had increasingly started to earn more and more money. This was able to happen through the success of their company. However, Chris never got caught up in the luxury of goods he was able to have. Chris actually preferred not to have them. He truly lived through the saying “Live simply”. This was shown through his journey to Alaska with only a few essential items. “Ivan Ilych himself superintend the arrangements, chose the wallpapers, supplemented the furniture, and supervised the upholstering.” (Tolstoy 115) During the time of his accident, Ivan purchased a house and was excited about decorating the house. He not only redid most of the house, but he bought antiques to make the house look more expensive. Although Ivan decorated it his way because he didn't care about what others thought, he still wanted to purchase many goods. Ivan was trying to make an average home look like a extremely rich home. These quotes are very different because it shows that Chris does not care about materialism, while materialism basically revolves around Ivan's life and how he lives. Individuals either need material possessions to complete their life, or they …show more content…
Chris writes in his journal before passing, “Happiness is only real when shared.” (ITW) At the end of the film and Chris’s life, he wrote this statement in his journal. This is different to Chris’s initial idea of living in full isolation, because he remembered that it is still important to have interaction with others, especially love ones. Chris realized he had possibly took transcendentalism to the extreme and did not have to cut all communication from his family. “He opened his eyes, looked at his son, and felt sorry for him….He felt sorry for her too.” (Tolstoy 155) At this very moment, when Ivan was dying, he finally cared for his family. This was Ivan's first time when Ivan did not focus on his suffering but realized how it was affecting his family. These quotes are very similar in the sense that both Chris and Ivan realized how important family was and how they took it for granted right at the verge of their death. Ivan and Chris may have had their differences, but they both needed to think about their family once last time to complete their life.
Is living through the ideas of transcendentalism bad? Through “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy and the film “Into the Wild”, the main character show the traits of transcendentalism. However, many of them seem to be for the worse. This is shown