Tartuffe" And "The Death Of Ivan Ilyich"

"Tartuffe" is a fifteenth century theatrical comedy written by French playwright Moliére. "The Death Of Ivan Ilyich", a novella published in 1886, is considered to be a master piece of Leo Tolstoy's later work.

Religion plays an important theme in both works. The problems Orgon and his family face in "Tartuffe" are caused by Orgon's belief that Tartuffe is a pious man who has the ability to speak with the divine. Orgon's mother is also convinced of Tartuffe's powers and, like her son, makes no action without first checking with the conman. The rest of Orgon's family are not as gullible and see straight through Tartuffe's claims, however, they are unable to explain the truth to Orgon and his mother.

Like Orgon, Ivan Ilyich is an ordinary, easily lead man. Ilyich is trapped in an unhappy marriage; his wife, like Tartufffe, is controlling and demanding. When Ilyich visits the doctor with a pain in his side, he is told that he does not have long left to live.

For the rest of the novella, we see Ivan Ilyich struggle with his own mortality. He is reluctant to accept it at first but ultimately is unable to complete his day to day tasks and is confined to his bed. Orgon is also struggling with his own mortality. He does not want to accept that he must one day cease to exist; for this reason, he turns to Tartuffe who can assure him that there is a life after death.

As Ivan Ilyich lies dying in his bed, he is inspired by a young boy named Gerasim. Unlike the other people who come to see Ivan, Gerasim is not afraid to confront the fact that he (Ivan) is about to pass away. This is in stark contrast to Orgon's family who try with all their might to get the head of the household to see the truth.

Finally, Ilyich has a moment of realization. He accepts his mortality and is able to pity his family. A similar thing happens to Orgon when he at last sees Tartuffe for the fraud he is. Orgon accepts that Tartuffe was not able to speak with the divine and that nothing can ward off the ravages of time.

Though "Tartuffe" and "The Death Of Ivan Ilyich" are separated by two decades, both deal with the issue of mortality. Something man is still struggling to understand today  

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