As Ivan Ilych, I can say that my dominant feature and main weakness was living my life by the dictates of others. Instead of depending on my individual reason and moral judgment to steer my ethical life, I thoughtlessly embraced the convictions and values of an aristocratic society. Just the same way a fly is attracted to the bright light I became enticed to people of high social status (Kamm, 2003). I believed that, if I could imitate their behavior and the way of life, if I only confined myself to the ways of the privileged in society, then I would be able to find my purpose and fulfillment in life. As a result, I became obsessed with notions of proper conduct and decorum, and the manners that characterize the upper classes. I began to conduct myself, as anyone in my position was supposed to. I also married a wife, since any young lawyer with a secure livelihood needed to have a wife. In addition, I bought a house in the city and equipped it with intellectual frills since, an educated member of the aristocracy needed to have a material status symbol.
As I familiarized myself with decorum, I became progressively more intolerant with anything that threatened my material possessions and comfort. When my wife Praskovya broached something improper and unpleasant about her pregnancy, I often buried myself in office work. When my married life became difficult, I adopted a formal kind of life that increased my distance from the rest of society members (Harder, 1990). However, following the circumstances, I went through realizing that love and compassion is all that matters in this life.
I now realize that family members and friends are the real companions, and one should carefully choose the kind of friends to associate with. Basing on the character of Peter and the way he treated me during all I was going through, I have realized that some people will be friends to obtain material benefits from people. Peter was my lawyer friend and colleague, but his relationship with me was shallow and self-serving. I did not know that Peter was after career ambitions and fulfillment, when he opted for being my friend. His thoughts centered on the possible career moves after my death. He was keenly interested in the vacant position after my death, and this reflects the manner in which most people in society behave. Peter proves to be the kind who views human relations as an instrument in achieving their desired ends. This is demonstrated in the manner he grudgingly talks about my death, while avoiding the reality of his mortality. Peter was among the first of my colleagues to realize that I was going to die not because he cared for my welfare, but because he saw the possible opportunities arising from my death.
Gerasim is a true symbol of friendship. He possesses qualities I consider to be of a true friendship and relationship, as he brought joyful moments in my life before I died. Even after my death, he still continues to act in a kind manner saying that death is caused by God, and that every person will die at the time set for them by God (Hustis, 2000). He interacted with people in a manner that was reflective and authentic showing the true nature of his character, unlike most of the people in society. As my friend, I knew him to behave in a manner that broke down any kind of isolation and, thus, created bonds that were meaningful and productive. This is the reason why he was able to confront the reality of my death with courage and equanimity. Gerasim accepts the reality of life and illness, and even death as an inevitable part of one’s life. That is why he helped me at night, during my illness and never bragged about it as others would do, but considered it as an act of helping a dying man.
Basing on the manner in which Gerasim acted towards the circumstance I was going through, I would advise people to carefully choose their friends, as I can consider Gerasim as the type to recommend to anyone. He was a true spiritual man upholding all the spiritual values. He was a morally upright man, and his morals were incomparable and rare in society. The manner in which my lawyer friends acted during my illness shows that Gerasim was a true creation of God. My friends were after opportunities that might arise out of my misfortunes, but he was solidly behind me, as if God himself commissioned him to do so. He considers human relations as a source of joy in life and dismisses the effects of material possessions, as not having considerable importance in adding value to life. Though, he was a poor peasant, he treated me as a true colleague throughout the entire period of my illness. He is content with his position in society and the relationships he has established with people in society proved to be a source of joy, courage and strength, as he confronts the reality of death.
I became intolerant to almost everything that threatened my comfort and well-being in my life. I tried as much as possible to fence myself off any discomfort, not knowing I was distancing myself from the rest of the society. I adopted a contractual relationship to my family. This made my wife distant to, as she neglected me during my illness. In this light, I would advise other members of the society to critically analyze the character of their wives. They should also behave in the right manner towards their wives to ensure they become loyal to them in happiness and in illness. My death brought me face to face with the reality of life, and this was worsened by my isolation from the rest of the society. I view myself as a representative of the other members of society with my kind of behavior, which I now consider inappropriate and unfulfilling. During my illness, I was extremely terrified by my isolation which provoked a serious existential reflection of my nature and character. I valued the manner in which Gerasim behaved towards me and caution anyone on the existence of characters, like Peter in the society we live in.