The authentic life includes the bonding with others, having relationship with someone and being ready during the time of death. While artificial life leaves one alone and empty. In the story of the Death of Ivan Ilych, Gerasim represented the authentic life wherein he is ready and unafraid to face death. Gerasim makes his life meaningful by sharing the pain of Ivan by holding his legs. Gerasim feels of the correctness of his life, and strong enough to be involve in a relationship. Authentic life is that one person was able to help someone as well as benefiting from the relationship. Compassion and love must go both ways. It is the virtue of the authentic life and is therefore the right life.
In the "Metamorphosis" by Kafka, Gregor Samsa was able to serve his family during the time wherein he is still a normal person. But because of unexplainable event that happened to him, he is no longer capable to provide everything for his family. Gregor Samsa chooses to be hidden in the room. The metamorphosis from human to an insect is a representation of Kafka about life. He lives in artificial life since he died with no one on his side. Although his family was with him they were not able to be with him during the time of suffering. He died lonely because of the incident wherein the lodgers saw him and became curious of him. But after hearing her sister he feels contended and wanted show his support to her sister. The life of Gregor Samsa can be considered a combination of both the authentic life and the artificial life. Since he was very unhappy of what is happening he wanted to end his life to help lessen the burden of his family as well as helping him to stop the sadness he is feeling. It is therefore consider that Gregor Samsa is been living in an artificial life because he was alone during the time of death and authentic because he was and his family benefiting on his death.
The other theme which is the inevitability of death surfaces in the story of Death of Ivan Ilych by its acceptance that he is dying. In the Metamorphosis death has come as a surprise to Gregor. Death is an event in life that cannot be prevented, although some are given a chance to prepare for it. The two stories show the occurrence of death in different ways. Ivan was able to accept and prepare for it while Gregor was taken by death without preparing for it. The story of Ivan shows the example of avoidance of death because of his social life thus showing a delusion to protect people from unpleasant realities. It leads to emptiness, horror and dissatisfaction. While the acceptance of death leads to contentment, peace and joy on death.
Symbols of Characters
Death of Ivan Ilych
Ivan Ilych Golovin - the protagonist of the novel. Has a penchant for formalizing every human relationship. He admires those people in a high social standing.
Gerasim - is the foil of Ivan. He is Ivan's sick nurse and butler. He is the total opposite of Ivan.
Peter Ivanovich - a fellow judge of Ivan and symbolizes the social milieu of Ivan. Peter is more open to truth than the other character in the story.
Praskovya Fedorovna Golovina - Ivan's wife and the mother of his children. Although she was sad during the death of Ivan, her real attitude is hostility and impatience of his death.
Schwartz- He serves as the double of Ivan. Ivan can see himself to Schwartz