The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by

Leo Tolstoy

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Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina Character Analysis

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 first, he gradually decides that it would be a good idea because she’s attractive and wealthy, meaning that her family would give him a handsome dowry. Before long, though, the couple begins to bicker on a regular basis, causing Ivan to withdraw from family life. Later, when he falls sick, Praskovya mainly focuses on the ways in which his illness influences her own life, making him feel as if he’s nothing but a burden. To that end, she continues to lead the life of a socialite and go to cultural events while Ivan remains in agony at home. However, Ivan is perhaps overly sensitive in his criticism of Praskovya, who does want—for the most part—to help him. The problem is, though, that she seems all too happy to let other people attend to him, having servants like Gerasim care for him while she and her daughter, Liza, focus on their everyday lives. Nevertheless, Ivan decides to forgive her for behaving this way when he’s about to die, saying “Forgive me” to her even though he’s too weak to properly articulate the words. In the aftermath of Ivan’s death, Praskovya continues to think only of herself, telling Pyotr Ivanovich about her husband’s suffering only insofar as that suffering affected her life.

Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina Quotes in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The The Death of Ivan Ilyich quotes below are all either spoken by Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina or refer to Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina. 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 1 Quotes

‘Three days and three nights of horrible suffering, and then death. Just think, it could happen to me any time, now,’ he thought, and he felt that momentary pang of fear. But immediately he was saved, without knowing how, by the old familiar idea that this had happened to Ivan Ilyich, not him, and it could not and would not happen to him, and that kind of thinking would put him in a gloomy mood, for which there was no need, as Schwartz’s face had clearly demonstrated. Pursuing this line of thought, Pyotr Ivanovich calmed down and began to show a close interest in the details of Ivan Ilyich’s death, as if death was a chance experience that may have applied to Ivan Ilyich but certainly didn’t apply to him.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

He realized that married life—at least with his wife—didn’t always mean enjoyment and decency, but, on the contrary, it often disrupted them, and it was therefore necessary to guard against such disruptions. And Ivan Ilyich began to seek ways of doing this. His work was the one thing that impressed Praskovya, and it was through work and the commitments associated with it that he took on his wife and asserted his own independence.

Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

In court he found his mind wandering; he would be miles away, wondering whether to have plain or moulded cornices with his curtains. He became so involved that he often did the work himself, rearranging the furniture and rehanging the curtains. On one occasion, climbing a stepladder to show a dull-witted upholsterer how to hang the draperies, he slipped and fell, though he was strong and agile enough to hold on, and all he did was bump his side on a window-frame knob. The bruised place hurt for a while but it soon passed off. And all this time Ivan Ilyich felt particularly well and in the best of spirits. ‘I seem to have shed fifteen years,’ he wrote home.

Related Symbols: The Bruise
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 7 Quotes

He could see that the awful, terrible act of his dying had been reduced by those around him to the level of an unpleasant incident, something rather indecent (as if they were dealing with someone who had come into the drawing-room and let off a bad smell), and this was done by exploiting the very sense of ‘decency’ that he had been observing all his life. He could see that no one had any pity for him because no one had the slightest desire to understand his situation.

Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

‘Yes, I’m hurting them,’ he thought. ‘They feel sorry for me, but they’ll be all right when I’m dead.’ He wanted to tell them this, but he wasn’t strong enough to get the words out. ‘Anyway…no good talking. Must do something.’ He looked at his wife, motioned to their son and said: ‘Take him away…sorry for him… and you…’ He tried to say, ‘Forgive me,’ but it came out as, ‘For goodness…’ Too weak to correct himself, he waved his hand knowing that he who needed to would understand.

Related Characters: Ivan Ilyich Golovin (speaker), Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina, Vasya
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
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Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina Character Timeline in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The timeline below shows where the character Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina appears in The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Meaning and Mortality Theme Icon
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...crowd around the newspaper, they read the statement, which informs readers that Ivan Ilyich’s wife, Praskovya Fyodorovna Golovina, has announced the death of her husband, along with the details of the... (full context)
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...in which Ivan left his family and decide that they will have to go visit Praskovya, his wife. (full context)
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...go through the motions of meeting certain social expectations like attending Ivan’s funeral and visiting Praskovya. Exasperated by this prospect, they dread such “tedious” obligations. (full context)
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Just when Pyotr is about to follow Schwartz out of the funeral, Praskovya intercepts him and leads him into the sitting room to have a discussion about Ivan... (full context)
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Praskovya starts talking about her finances, making it clear that she wants to figure out how... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...his increased salary and burgeoning reputation. He also begins to see a young woman named Praskovya Fyodorovna. Praskovya is attractive, well-respected, and is a good match for Ivan on the dancefloor,... (full context)
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Praskovya and Ivan get married, and at first everything is wonderful. The presents, the furniture, the... (full context)
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Praskovya and Ivan have other children, and their strained relational dynamic continues. After seven years, Ivan... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...to power. After a week of making arrangements in the city, he sends word to Praskovya and tells her that he will be receiving 5,000 rubles per year in addition to... (full context)
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...on the window frame, leaving a painful bruise. However, he brushes this injury off, telling Praskovya in a letter that he feels 15 years younger now that he has the job... (full context)
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When Praskovya and the children finally come to St. Petersburg, Ivan proudly takes them from room to... (full context)
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Ivan and Praskovya are happy in their new life, though they find that they still don’t have quite... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...takes a turn for the worse, so does his everyday life. He starts arguing with Praskovya whenever he gets the chance, criticizing her for even the smallest matters. She, on the... (full context)
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...and this thought makes everything on the streets seem miserable and bleak. When he tells Praskovya what the doctor said, though, she replies, “Well, I’m very pleased.” She then leaves to... (full context)
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...getting worse. Throughout this process, he finds it more frustrating than normal to fight with Praskovya, and every little thing that anyone does to upset him seems to intensify his pain.... (full context)
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What bothers Ivan the most is that Praskovya and Liza hardly seem to care about his illness. They are, he sees, too invested... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Listening in on a conversation between Praskovya and his brother-in-law, Ivan hears his brother-in-law call him a “dead man,” though Praskovya insists... (full context)
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Having heard him drop the candle, Praskovya enters Ivan’s room and asks him what’s wrong. He tells her that he simply dropped... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...room (where he first hurt himself) and tinkers with the various decorations. One day, though, Praskovya tells him to stop because he might injure himself again, and suddenly his pain flares... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...barely stomach a cup of tea and some medicine. One morning, Gerasim informs him that Praskovya is still in bed but that his doctor is coming to examine him. When the... (full context)
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...keeping up the lie that there’s anything he can do to help. At this point, Praskovya enters and, pretending to have been awake, admonishes one of the servants for failing to... (full context)
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When the doctor finishes his examination, Praskovya tells Ivan that she arranged for yet another doctor to come see him. When he... (full context)
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...long, as his pain returns and nothing about his situation seems to improve. That evening, Praskovya dresses for an opera that she and Ivan decided to take the family to before... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Yet another two weeks pass. During this time, Petrishchev finally proposes to Liza, but when Praskovya enters Ivan’s room to tell him the good news, she discovers that his condition has... (full context)
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...that everyone knows there’s nothing that can help him. Outside the bedroom, the doctor tells Praskovya that the only thing he can do is alleviate Ivan’s pain by giving him opium.... (full context)
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As Ivan looks at Praskovya and Liza, he begins to hate them for representing everything negative about the way he’s... (full context)
Chapter 12
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After Ivan yells at Praskovya, he falls into a constant scream, one that lasts for the final three days of... (full context)
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...When he opens his eyes, he sees his son and pities him, at which point Praskovya approaches with tears on her face, and he feels sorry for her, too. (full context)
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...he also sees that they will be better when he dies. First, though, he tells Praskovya to send Vasya out of the room, saying that he’s sorry for him and for... (full context)