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Essay Sample on The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

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1728 words
Middlebury College
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Read The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Respond to the following questions in essay format.

Why did Ivan conclude that his life was not the real thing? In your response, consider his relationships, values, and interests.

Leo Tolstoy uses a unique structure in illustrating the life of Ivan Ilyich. He first begins by announcing Ivans death and the associated events and funeral arrangements before providing a substantive detail about his life; regarding family background, education, social life, and career development. Ivans problem begins after he accidentally bumps his body while fitting his new apartment with curtains. His perceived good and normal life then change as the incident turns into a bigger problem in which his life becomes at stake. According to the doctors diagnosis, what mainly caused pain to Ivan was his mental sufferings rather than the physical sufferings. Tolstoy states, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief, (42). It is on the verge of dying that Ivan reflects on his life and perceives it as false and hence not the real thing. He views himself not to have lived his life as expected in which he was despised and felt unsatisfied with his accomplishments. He perceives that the minor and recognizable efforts against the aspects valued by people in high positions that he had suppressed or ignored were what made life to be a real thing. Ivan views himself as a bad example for his son and wife in regards to his life. Tolstoy states, with a look at his wife he indicated his son and said: "Take him away...sorry for him...sorry for you too...." (44). In other words, Ivan felt that he had lived a false life and felt ashamed for involving his wife and son in it.

Describe Gerasims role in Ivans final days. Do you have someone in your life that fills a similar role?

It is perceived that Ivan was quite fond of Gerasim who is identified as the Butlers assistant. Gerasim can be perceived as a good illustration of what Ivan perceived to be a life well led. Gerasim is aware of the fact that his master is dying when compared to the doctors who continue to provide Ivan with false hope in his condition. Gerasim feels the need for taking care of his master with the view that one day he will need the help when he becomes unwell. He assumes the role of a sick nurse whereby he ensures that Ivan needs are met. A good example is Ivan requesting him to lift him up for he was weak and unable to support himself. Tolstoy states, Gerasim, without an effort and without apparent pressure, led him, almost lifting him, to the sofa and placed him on it, (30). Gerasim is happy with his life in the sense that he fulfills his duties as expected, does not view himself as somebody else and is less concerned with his social status. Ivan views Gerasims traits as the real thing. During Ivans final days, Gerasim assists him to view the true nature of death for him to accept the reality that he was indeed facing death. Tolstoy quotes Gerasim who states, We shall all of us die, so why should I grudge a little trouble?" (31). Ivan is perceived to have been comfortable with Gerasim who never lied to him about his health but rather supported him and helped him whenever possible as he awaited death. Someone in my life that performs a similar role is my mother who is always honest and is always available whenever I need help. She takes care of me when I am unwell and is constantly checking up on me.

What does Tolstoy have to say about the attractions of materialism? Provide at least one specific example from Ivans life.

Materialism appears throughout the story especially after Ivans colleagues hear about the demise. They begin to reflect on the job promotions that they or their friends might acquire and the obligation of visiting Ivans family and attending the funeral with the view that it was a tiresome visit. However, as per Ivans reflection during his final days, the concept of materialism, which is a basic feature of people on high positions, is a significant part on the things that Ivan views as false. He views the life of his footman and his family to have been the real thing when compared to his high-class life.

2. Read and respond to the following questions.

(1) Identify the single most important thing that Texas A&M University and your professors can do to promote academic integrity on campus? Explain.

Academic integrity is a significant aspect of the education system particularly in developing individuals who are professional in their respective fields. One important factor that Texas A&M University and my professors may do to promote academic integrity on campus is through institutional commitment. Institutional commitment puts into view factors such as; formulating a campus policy that enunciates the duties of the students and faculty on academic integrity, and providing easy access information on academic integrity on the institutions main website, departments websites, students portals, and the librarys website in addition to highlighting its essence in any given assignments including group work.

(2) How is a good life defined, and what is your plan to achieve it? Incorporate reflections on the assigned readings to support your response.

A good life can be described as one that is full of contentment and selflessness. It puts into view not focusing on material desires but rather focusing on forming good relations with others. Gerasim is viewed as contented with his life in the sense that he does not focus on pretending to be someone else. He is also viewed as happy and selfless when it comes to meeting his masters demands. He sacrifices his sleep and other personal responsibilities to ensure that his master is well attended. Ivan admires these qualities whereby he views them as the real thing when compared to his life which he viewed as false. Therefore, from a personal perspective, a good life involves contentment and selflessness.

3. Read A Letter to my Students by Bill Taylor. How did the behavior you were sanctioned for meet or fail to meet the expectations laid out by the author? How did the faculty members actions in response to your behavior meet or fail to meet the expectations laid out by the author?

Academic integrity is perceived as essential when it comes to acquiring knowledge and inquiry. From an individual perspective, it sets a foundation for discipline and good character in an individual; which are crucial aspects when one joins the working environment. The behavior that I was sanctioned for is the academic integrity regarding class sessions. According to the letter, some of the expectations include; attending all class sessions unless one is incapacitated to attend, showing up to class as per the timetable and avoiding leaving early, not wasting time in class but rather use it as per the courses objectives, answering questions in the best way possible, and honestly explaining that one is incapable of providing an answer but have the answer before the beginning of the next class. Other expectations include; engaging in classroom discussions, containing oneself when ones enthusiasm makes it difficult for others to engage in class discussions, assuming that one is ready for class with the view that he or she might be called upon even when the hand is not raised, respecting other peoples views and not making fun of them, preventing any form of ridicule to ones ideas and also avoiding ridiculing other peoples ideas and ensuring that the expressed opinion is clear and prevent imposing individuals view when it comes to controversial issues. My behavior met the above-mentioned expectations as I attended classes on time, participated in class discussions and ensured that I aligned with the course objectives. I also ensured that I did not leave class early and maintained a good rapport with classmates and my class instructors. From an individual perspective, such guidelines promote discipline and reduce dishonesty as one if fully engaged in the classroom environment.

My class instructor proved efficient regarding my behavior in the classroom environment. He maintained a class attendance list to check the students who were in and out of class. He also arrived in class on time unless when there was an emergency or an urgent duty that required his attention. He informed the class representative on his absence and provided tasks for the students to cover in his absence. His dedication and commitment prompted me to abide by the classroom expectations. On class discussions, he ensured that other students and I had equal opportunities and time in expressing our opinions and highly considered the opinions by explaining whether they were right or wrong. I tried my best to emulate his example by keeping quiet and keenly listening to what others were saying. The class instructor also allowed more time to each student when a task appeared to challenge to answer. He gave us more time to look for the answer but ensure that we had it during the next lesson. From an individual perspective, a member of faculty plays a crucial role in promoting academic integrity. The class instructors commitment on time, checking on class attendance and the attention given to each student positively influenced my academic integrity on class sessions; aspects that I perceive are necessary for any instructional setting.

4. Watch this video:

Or search for TED Talk: Our buggy moral code on the web to find the video. Respond to the following prompt.

Examples given by Dr. Ariely on reducing cheating include reminding individuals of the essence of morality and reducing the distance from cheating. From his research findings, when people are reminded of their moral codes, they tend to resonate with them and hence avoid any form of cheating. On distance, when the gap between an attractive factor and the temptation of cheating, for example, money, is small, then the level of cheating also reduces. He also mentions the norms of cheating whereby individuals tend to cheat depending on their impression of an institution. If an institution is known as strict and of higher standards, then the level of cheating is minimized.


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