Essay on Othello Suffering and the Death of Ivan Ilynch

Published: 2022/01/11
Number of words: 1925


Both the stories of Othello and that of “The Death of Ivan Illynch” communicate to the reader the aspects of pain and suffering. The tragedy of Othello is perhaps one of the most important works of William Shakespeare. The writer of this play is believed to have initiated the play in 1603. Othello as a protagonist in the play by Shakespeare relays to the reader the suffering he underwent in his childhood (Bradley 6). This suffering further is manifested due to Othello’s activities in the battle that led him to having a cold heart. In this play, the writer depicts the life of Othello in diverse perspectives.

Shakespeare relays the reader of the personal life of Othello. In his narrative, he shows one that Othello was married to Desdemona. Despite being, married Othello underwent many life challenges. Some of these challenges relate to his mental conflicts, conflicts within their relationship (Tolstoy 3). In relation to “The Death of Ivan Illynch” the story portrays aspects of death as well as suffering. From this novella, one comes to the realization of the emotions Ivan’s family members felt after his death. The story is a masterpiece product of Leo Tolstoy. This novella became complete in the year 1870s.

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The story in this novella dwells on the death of a 45-year-old high court judge of the 19th century. The story is on the other hand, bases on the culture of Russia during the period. The writer relays to the audience the story of Ivan Ilyich. In the novella, Ivan lives a good life despite having a bad relationship with his wife. It is therefore, while hanging curtains in their new apartments that Ivan gets injuries (Readers, 14). As a man of status Ivan’s actions shows that he was a man proud of his status to personally, hang those curtains without an idea that this act will end his life. Because of his injuries, he developed a strange pain and taste in his mouth that would not disappear. This was the beginning of his suffering.

Despite consulting all doctors available, Ivan’s condition worsened and it became apparent that he was dying. It was not clear why such a man of status could fall ill abruptly and suffer. A further look at the narrative reveals to the reader some records of terror and trauma Ivan faced. Ivan faces both physical and emotional pain. He cannot comprehend his situation to the point where he insinuates his death. This therefore, led him to spend his last three days of his life screaming. However as the end of his life draws near Ivan sees a beacon of light and begins to evaluate his personal life. It is in this situation that he becomes calm and realizes that he indeed did not live a better life but lived for his selfish needs.

Othello’s Suffering

Othello as part of Shakespeare works was written next to Hamlet. Othello is an important figure in the society. He is large and of grand influence. In this narrative, Othello is depicted as an individual towering above the rest. It is therefore, important to note that Othello level of authority in the society made others feared him of evil rather than with human passion (Bradley 5). The narrative of Othello on the other hand, portrays the passion of pain and tragedy. The suffering of Othello begins through his own personal misery. Othello’s war within himself, have led him struggle to reconcile between emotions of jealousy and love. According to him, he has a personal pain for losing his love Desdemona to another man.

Othello says that his pure love that he states as “fountain” has come under pollution. He cannot comprehend the face of Desdemona. He states that even though Desdemona is a fair woman she is also a weed (Bradley 11). Othello becomes upset on learning that Desdemona is getting married while he had asked her father for a hand in marriage. At the begging of the narrative, we can see the officer complaining to Lago as to why he never told him of such developments. Lago however, dislikes Othello on various grounds.

The first reason being that Othello promoted a younger officer in his place, and the fact that he belief that, Othello slept with his wife Emilia. His replacement is a mere tactician with no real battle experience. The first instance of pain one comes across is the presence of Desdemona being a pain to Othello. Audiences have to sympathize on the events between Othello and Desdemona. In the narrative when Othello try to send her away, she tries to defend herself. As he leaves, he speaks to her. He tells her that he took her in because she resembled a certain “cunning whore” of Venice.

This shows that what he is going through in his emotions are far much great that he tries to distance himself from his words. This therefore has been a trend for Othello in justify his actions and words. If there is a possibility of Othello suffering then automatically his wife suffers too. Desdemona feels the pain of mistreatment from Othello. From the narrative, it is described of how she is afraid of Othello. This shows that their family had its problems. Desdemona further says that she still loves Othello despite such treatment.

Lago’s Evil Plans on Othello

Lago’s plot of evil on Othello perhaps leads to his destruction. Since choosing Cassio instead of Lago for a military position, had been planning on ways to destroying Othello. Lago therefore develops a scheme to lie to Othello of his wife’s adultery. Lago has a way of to make him belief of such claims and this leads to him having change in emotions. Further Lago convinces Othello to murder his beloved wife(Bradley 6-11). At the end of the play, Lago meets his goal he is able to motivate Othello in murdering his wife and eventually himself. He has satisfied his needs only for a short period because he eventually dies.

Suffering by Othello

The first problem that Othello suffers from is the influence of his skin color. Othello had to face racial discrimination. Therefore, Lago reminds others as well as put audiences into perspective Othello being a “Moor”. Othello in the narrative is described as being of a race away from that of Europeans. Europeans consider themselves superiors to other races from the east. However, Othello does not have any problem with the color of the people around him. Othello on the other hand suffers from emotional problems in respect to his relationship. He further has emotional scars because of his actions in the war (Bradley 7).

His suffering in war zones has made him cold hearted. From this, narrative audiences get to learn suffering in the perspective of Othello. There is the pain of love that led to him killing his wife. From this narrative, individuals further realize that not Othello suffers. His wife and other characters suffer too. His wife complains of his mistreatment but since she loves him, she will have to put on with such suffering.

The Death of Ivan Illych

In the play during an interval in the trial, legal counsel, discuss in an enclosed room. Peter Ivanovich, the protagonist closest friend reads the obituaries of Ivan Illych. The protagonist has been terminally ill for sometime after sustaining injuries. Ivan underwent a lot of suffering while terminally ill. However since Ivan was an important figure, his death is source of joy to some mourners. Some of them are happy that finally they will get promotions in their jobs. Her wife describes his horrible suffering at the time of his death (Readers 12-15). Ivan’s condition worsened and this led to him bear pain to the point he wished to die. His wife describes that in the last three days before his dead, Ivan screamed continuously.

Ivan Illych story begin from the time of his children through his marriage and death. The narrative illustrates of how his wife underwent challenges in their first pregnancy. He feels pain after falling while hanging draping and the pain goes away soon. Ivan goes on with his family as well as business duties without considering the pain from his fall. Something happened to him that shaped his life forever. He started feeling pain growing of his left side of the body connected to the fall. He then felt a strange taste in his mouth (Tolstoy 13). This influences then irritates him that he starts becoming emotionally insensitive. This nervous breakdown of Ivan then makes him start seeing medical doctors for tests and diagnosis.

Many of these doctors recommend that Ivan has an appendix problem; nevertheless his illness continues to worsen. This continued progress of the illness then makes Ivan lose interest in social activities. The illness makes him lose the interest of playing cards. This then led to him becoming alienated to everyone around him that he stayed alone in a separate room. To understand the pain that Ivan Ilych underwent is that in the third month to his illness his body could control its functions. He could not take a short call or even bathe himself.

To assist him in such duties a peasant was employed to take care of him. From the narrative, we see that the peasant employed enjoyed being around Ivan while others kept away. It dawn to him that the people around him lacked the feeling of compassion and disgust him. He became increasingly aware of their hypocrisy and their pretence. He suffered a lot from this since his own family members, doctors and all the people around him disgust him and lack feelings of compassion (Readers 14). This therefore, made his level of hatred against them increase. Most importantly, his hatred for his wife increased as his end of time approached. There are only two individuals who show some level of compassion, that is his helper Gerasim and his son.

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These feelings of pain become hard for Ivan Illych to bear that he begins using opium to fight pain. This then affects his mental capacity that he starts to realize that his life has been a waste. Ivan then begins having dreams of his death. At times, dreaming of being pushed through a black sack. Then the most painful situation probably came to him three days to his death. In these three days, Ivan Illych continuously screams in agony. During this period, the protagonist has a revelation. In this revelation, Ivan recognizes that he has been living and empty life. He sees that he has been living the life of a hypocrite (Tolstoy 17).

It is then after this that he falls through the same black sack as in his dream and meet a light that comforts his soul. This comfort makes him feel that compassion is the most important element to living. This makes him want to ask for forgiveness from his wife. He eventually feels no hatred for people. He then transcend to his inner self. At the end, though Ivan Illych seems to be in pain as he dies he is at peace.

Works Cited

Bradley, A. C. “Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.” (2005).

READER’S, G. U. I. D. E. “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.”

Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Interactive Media, 2013. www.

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