The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) Character Analysis

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 reputation, Mikhail is a confident man who speaks with authority. This bothers Ivan, since he recognizes that Mikhail is talking to him in the same manner in which he himself talks to defendants in court, and he resents being put in a position of powerless inferiority. He also believes that Mikhail—and all the other doctors he sees—fail to grasp the crux of the problem, focusing on his organs instead of treating his illness as a simple matter of life and death.

Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) Quotes in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The The Death of Ivan Ilyich quotes below are all either spoken by Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) or refer to Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Death of Ivan Ilyich published in 2008.
Chapter 4 Quotes

The whole thing turned out just as he had expected […]. He was made to wait, the doctor was full of his own importance—an attitude he was familiar with because it was one that he himself assumed in court—then came all the tapping and listening, the questions with predetermined and obviously superfluous answers, the knowing look that seemed to say, ‘Just place yourself in our hands and we’ll sort it out, we know what we’re doing, there’s no doubt about it. We can sort things out the same way as we would for anyone you care to name.’ It was just like being in court. The way he looked at the accused in court was exactly the way he was being looked at now by the famous doctor.

Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

The doctor glared at him through one eye over his glasses as if to say, ‘Prisoner in the dock, if you will not confine yourself to answering the questions put to you I shall have to arrange for you to be removed from the courtroom.’

‘I have already told you what I consider necessary and appropriate. Anything further will be determined by the tests.’ The doctor bowed.

Related Characters: Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) (speaker), Ivan Ilyich Golovin
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Absorption; the blind gut was curing itself. Then suddenly he could feel the same old dull gnawing pain, quiet, serious, unrelenting. The same nasty taste in his mouth. His heart sank and his head swam. ‘O God! O God!’ he muttered. ‘It’s here again, and it’s not going away.’ And suddenly he saw things from a completely different angle. ‘The blind gut! The kidney!’ he said to himself. ‘It’s got nothing to do with the blind gut or the kidney. It’s a matter of living or…dying. Yes, I have been alive, and now my life is steadily going away and I can’t stop it. No. There’s no point in fooling myself. Can’t they all see—everybody but me—that I’m dying? It’s only a matter of weeks, or days—maybe any minute now. There has been daylight; now there is darkness. I have been here; now I’m going there. Where?’

Related Characters: Ivan Ilyich Golovin (speaker), Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor)
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) Character Timeline in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The timeline below shows where the character Mikhail Danilovich (the Doctor) appears in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
Ivan agrees to visit a doctor, though he dislikes the idea. Just as he feared, the doctor is authoritative and pompous,... (full context)
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
The way the doctor looked at Ivan when he asked if he might die haunts Ivan on his way... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
...him feel better. Worse, the test results themselves are apparently not as conclusive as his doctor suggested, and this causes Ivan to think that the doctor was either mistaken, lying, or... (full context)
Chapter 5
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
...to imagine fixing it in place. He then springs up and goes to visit his doctor. During this visit, the doctor insists that everything can be fixed inside of Ivan’s body... (full context)
Chapter 8
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
...medicine. One morning, Gerasim informs him that Praskovya is still in bed but that his doctor is coming to examine him. When the doctor arrives, Ivan can sense how little the... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Having warmed his hands, the doctor begins to examine Ivan. As he does so, Ivan thinks about how ridiculously futile this... (full context)
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
When the doctor finishes his examination, Praskovya tells Ivan that she arranged for yet another doctor to come... (full context)
Chapter 11
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
Empathy vs. Resentment Theme Icon
Greed, Purity, and Corruption Theme Icon
Illness and Control Theme Icon
Ivan’s doctor comes, but Ivan tells him to go away, saying that everyone knows there’s nothing that... (full context)