Posted: February 15th, 2023
The works of Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and Gustav Flaubert’s “A Simple Heart (Soul)” both explore the role that social class plays in human life, particularly how it influences relationships and perceptions. Through their respective protagonists, Ivan Ilyich and Felicite, these two authors highlight the barriers created between people by wealth and privilege; however, each work also offers a unique perspective on this theme.
In The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Tolstoy focuses specifically on how differences in wealth can create a form of emotional distance between individuals regardless if they have an otherwise close relationship. This is exemplified through Ivan Illych’s marriage to Praskovya Fedorovna; while the two are essentially strangers at first due to their disparate social classes – he being from a wealthy family while she was born into poverty – they still manage to develop an attraction to one another due to mutual feelings of loneliness. However, despite eventually settling into a seemingly happy marriage together, there is always an underlying power dynamic between them based on their financial status which inhibits any real emotional connection or understanding. As such, even though Ivan falls ill later in life, his wife does not truly comprehend his suffering nor offer much empathy for him as she still holds onto her privileged position within their relationship.
On the other hand, Flaubert’s A Simple Heart (Soul) observes class mainly from the perspective of Felicite — someone who has no financial security whatsoever but manages to find joy through her humble lifestyle nonetheless. While her meager existence grants her few luxuries or comforts that those with more money would enjoy like quality clothing or decent food — often relying instead on recycled items found around town — she ultimately learns to appreciate these small gifts for what they are rather than wishing for something better all the time like so many wealthier characters tend to do throughout literature. Furthermore within this story we see additional commentary on higher society by way of Madame Aubain– who despite having far more material possessions than Felcite– fails miserably at providing any sort of genuine love or companionship towards her own daughter whom never receives any attention beyond basic necessities from her mother since she too is preoccupied with maintaining appearances amongst those within upperclass circles .
Overall both texts provide us with thought-provoking perspectives about social class-based dynamics such as how economic privilege can either bring people closer together or separate them emotionally ,as well as highlighting how deprivation can sometimes lead individuals towards greater appreciation for all aspects life has offer regardless if its in abundance or scarcity .
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