The Death of Ivan Ilyich


Leo Tolstoy

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich Characters

Ivan Ilyich Golovin

Ivan Ilyich is a 45-year-old prosecutor, and the novella’s protagonist. Ivan is from a respected family and starts studying law at a young age. While learning, he feels that the lavish lifestyle he’s embarking upon… read analysis of Ivan Ilyich Golovin

Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina

Praskovya Fyodorovna is Ivan Ilyich’s wife. A well-respected young woman, Praskovya begins dating Ivan shortly after he becomes an examining magistrate. She is a good dancer, and though Ivan doesn’t consider marrying her at… read analysis of Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina

Pyotr Ivanovich

Pyotr Ivanovich is one of Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues, a fellow magistrate in the ministry. He is also a close friend of Ivan’s, having known him since they were both young students. Despite their history… read analysis of Pyotr Ivanovich


A young man from a peasant family, Gerasim is one of Ivan Ilyich’s servants. Unlike everyone else in the house, Gerasim is more than willing to empathize with Ivan because he isn’t afraid to… read analysis of Gerasim


Vasya is Ivan’s young son, who is perhaps the only person in his family who truly cares about Ivan’s failing health. Unlike Praskovya and Liza, Vasya hasn’t been corrupted yet by fixating on… read analysis of Vasya
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Liza is Ivan Ilyich and Praskovya’s daughter. A young woman, she takes after her parents in that she highly values her reputation and works hard to maintain her social status. To that end, she… read analysis of Liza

Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor)

Primarily referred to as “the doctor,” Mikhail Danilovich is the first physician Ivan Ilyich consults, and the one who eventually oversees him until his death. Considered a “celebrity” doctor because of his skill and glowing… read analysis of Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor)


The only son of an examining magistrate, Petrishchev is a young man who courts Liza. Praskovya and Ivan Ilyich are very happy when he takes an interest in their daughter. But by the time… read analysis of Petrishchev


Schwartz is a friend and colleague of Ivan Ilyich and Pyotr Ivanovich. A playful, devious man, Schwartz is uninfluenced by the sadness of Ivan’s funeral. In fact, when Pyotr Ivanovich arrives at the ceremony… read analysis of Schwartz

Ivan Yegorovich Shebek

Shebek is one of Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues at the courthouse. In a conversation with Fyodor Vasilyevich and Pyotr Ivanovich, Shebek learns that Ivan has died. Though Shebek expresses his sorrow, he—like the others—privately… read analysis of Ivan Yegorovich Shebek

Fyodor Vasilyevich

Fyodor Vasilyevich is one of Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues at the courthouse. After learning that Ivan has died, Fyodor talks to Pyotr Ivanovich and Shebek about their friend, expressing his sorrow even as he privately… read analysis of Fyodor Vasilyevich

Ivan’s Brother-In-Law

Ivan’s brother-in-law is his wife, Praskovya’s, brother, a man who visits several months after Ivan has fallen ill. Upon setting his eyes on Ivan, the brother-in-law can’t hide how alarmed he is by… read analysis of Ivan’s Brother-In-Law