Tolstoy's Use Of Ennui In English Literature

Decent Essays
The term “ennui” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ennui). Ennui is typically associated with boredom, general annoyance with the mundane of daily life, and in the case of literature, the eventual need to significantly improve said situation. Ennui, in many variations, is found in works such as Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, and the poem “To the Reader” by Charles Baudelaire from The Flowers of Evil. I will be discussing the prevalence of ennui within these stories and the importance of the subject in literature. In Madame Bovary, the tale goes as such: boy meets girl, boy meets another girl, girl has baby, girl …show more content…
She bought magnificent things to dress her home and living beyond her means to maintain a life that was not hers to keep, accumulating a large amount of debt along the way. Madame Bovary’s final means of escape from her life was through suicide, a slow, painful, sickly death that did not display her as the suffering heroine as it in the novels, a role she literally died to play. In “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”, the story follows Ivan Ilyich a man who upon his deathbed, realizes that he may not have been living life as he should. This particular story involving ennui is based on the idea that within life, without happiness and contentment with what you have been given, it is terrible.
The work beings with Ivan’s death and those around him are more concerned with themselves and how they will benefit from the passing instead of grieving the loss of the friend, husband, and father. Instead, Ilyich’s coworkers are wondering who will be offered the promotion in his place and his wife asks a lawyer questions about his pension. In my understanding, this part of the book is to emphasize the unawakening and ignorance of society and of those around Ivan Ilyich, a reason behind why his unsatisfaction with life is so severe. The few who are actually seen mourning his death are his young son and his servants, those in life who do not care for

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Later on in the story Mrs.Mallard dies because she could not fathom the idea of her husband being in control of her life again. One would assume that death allowed her to keep her freedom. Even though people believed she died of a heart attack, in reality she died because she was afraid of being in bondage again. That was implied from the last line when Chopin says, “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.” In the Necklace Madame Loisel died emotionally from the moment she married her husband because she believed she deserved more in life. She did not believe her life had value, “she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her;” She longed for something she had and that was the attention of man.…

    • 1231 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    . Then I’m going to make the big break” (Kafka 4). In this quote, Gregor talks about how miserable he is in his current job, but cannot leave because of his father’s debts. Gregor’s father, Mr. Samsa, is an emotionally abusive person because Gregor is forced to pay off his fathers debts. In the quote stated above, it is evident that Gregor is not happy in the work he is doing now; however, Gregor feels as if he must endure the misery for his family.…

    • 1009 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The Challenges In Hamlet

    • 671 Words
    • 3 Pages

    To begin, Hamlet was on his own once his father had died. His mother the queen got remarried to this guy who was not so nice. The death of Hamlet's father does not go smoothly. It hurt Hamlet a lot to see his father go. Since his father passing his feels like he is on his own because his mother and his new dad don't treat Hamlet well.…

    • 671 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She loved her husband very dearly but she was just tired of living in a world where she did not have equal treatment. Later in the story, "her dead husband" knocks on the door confused about the news they tell him. This is where Mrs. Malllard 's heart can not take the news. In the story, it was mentioned that Mrs. Mallard died from the suprising news. Although, if one truly analyzes then we figured that she died because of the shock of knowing she would lose her independence.…

    • 756 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    These emotions come from Creon’s walls finally breaking down as he changes his heart and gives in that he has acted wrongly in convicting Antigone for the crime she committed. In learning that Creon’s tragic flaw generates from fear, one begins to reconsider previous dislike for him. The final scene of the drama leaves Creon with no family—his wife Eurydice has killed herself and so has his son, Haemon. Creon shows humbleness in the tragedy of losing his family because he recognizes that his continuous belief in his own self-importance has ended unhappily for him. In addition, the end of the drama foreshadows a self-committed death of Creon, providing ultimate sympathy for the reader.…

    • 863 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She could no longer concentrate without the voices infiltrating her mind and she decided the only way to escape was through death. She recounts in her suicide letter to her husband Leonard that there was no other way out, “I shan 't recover this time… so I am doing what seems the best thing to do.” (6) She no longer wanted to burden the lives of others and she knew that she was not going to get better. Virginia’s suicide is the basis for the theme in the novel that although Virginia’s life did not appear to be unsatisfactory she could not cope with the feelings that were occurring inside of…

    • 1223 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The story does show through the brother’s lives the fact that death is final in their world therefore serves as a reminder that mortals are fragile as is life. Death is symbolized with the appearance of dead bodies that are dismembered and this passage of increased danger forces the player to see death and tackle it. Naiee does not think he is as strong as his brother and depends on him to survive. This brings Naiee to feel vulnerability and mental or physical weakness as he is haunted by guilt for his mother’s death. When his brother dies, Naiee is not physically able to confront his fears and collapses.…

    • 841 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Her constant switching is her personalities changing between that of Jane and the Wallpaper Woman. Finally, the writer at the moment exclaims, “’I’ve got out at last,’ said I, ‘in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!’ Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so I had to creep over him every time!” This proves that Jane has committed suicide. Leading up to this moment, Jane has felt trapped, but now she has freed herself from the patterns of sleepiness and sadness.…

    • 956 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    (HD 30-31)” The whole situation is burdened with a sense of ludicrousness and hopelessness. Against the vastness of the continent that represents the stronghold of Darkness, acts of conquest and resistance fall short. Such endeavours are full of “drollery” and sooner or later, nature will reclaim its dominion; it is simply a matter of time. Nietzsche's philosophical view of nihilism, with its presumption that everything is meaningless, filters through Heart of Darkness. The experience of nihilism is due to the devaluation of the highest values, as the novel throughout demonstrates a disproof of objective reality and in so, a real foundation for a moral purpose.…

    • 1380 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Summary of “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell Orwell immediately addresses his concern for the decline in the English language. He calls it “ugly” and “stale.” This decline in language induces “foolish” thinking, which, in turn, leads to more ugly language. It is a vicious cycle. However, Orwell suggests that this is a reversible process, considering there is enough people willing to get the job done. He then goes on to explain exactly what the “ugly” modern language is.…

    • 830 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays