EVIL/good=Useless Ivan

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EVIL/good = useless Ivan Leo Tolstoy was a Russian social critic and writer around the turn of the 19th century. "After the Ball" is his short story criticizing Russian society. Protagonist Ivan Vasseilivich is a young college man infatuated with Veranka, the daughter of a Russian colonel. Veranka is a majestic beauty, but once Ivan sees her father maliciously beating a Tartar, he associates these horrible acts with her and slowly falls out of love. Ivan is scarred for life from this experience, however, Veranka, and her father go on to lead fulfilling lives. Ivan's unlimited potential is wiped away when he sees such a gruesome act of violence committed by one human to another. Tolstoy uses "After the Ball" to criticize Russian society, because under its facade of goodness lurks evil, through literary devices evil is shown to crush good, and comes out on top.

Tolstoy uses characterization to show that the good guy finishes last, and evil goes on to better things.

In the story Ivan falls in love with Veranka and describes her beautifully, Veranka is a "tall, enchanting, well formed, graceful and majestic most of all majestic". (667). Her description brings about a warm glow, a goodness; this is what Ivan fell in love with. She is the embodiment of goodness in Ivan's eyes, for the time being. Veranka's father has the same appearance, both have a certain warmth and goodness in their looks. "His eyes and lips wore the same gentle, joyous smile as his daughters." (669). After Ivan sees the colonel beating the tartar he associates the evil of the colonel to Veranka since they share the same attributes. Ivan falls out of love with Veranka and eventually loses all contact with her. Even though Veranka and her father are now evil in his eyes, they go on to lead happy fulfilling lives. However, Ivan does not accept evil, and he ends up an old man who never amounted to anything.

"After the Ball" is told in a flashback, which inveighs that Ivan gained wisdom. Ivan recollects the ball he went to with his German date, however he was more interested in Veranka. "I danced the mazurka"¦ with a German girl I had come with but was not very polite." (669) This shows how much of a good and decent person Ivan was; he had a conscience. After the ball Ivan recalls the horrible beating of a Tartar in the street and thinks of how malicious of a beating it was, "the victims back"¦was striped, wet, red; unrecognizable to the point that I could not believe it was the body of a man" After witnessing this Ivan is shocked that this was accepted by society. Society left Ivan behind on this issue and went on with life but Ivan remained stagnant.

Narration is used by Tolstoy as another way to show Ivan's goodness coming in last compared to the evil that surrounds him. While telling his story about dancing with Veranka, and as he takes her by her waist, he has to set a youth straight, when he says that Ivan just wanted to feel and see her body. Ivan replied "Yes that's like you, indeed, today's youth. It wasn't like that in our day. The more I loved her, the more ethereal she became to me." (668.) He was saying that her body was of no care to him; he loved for her kindness and warmth. In his days, men were gentlemen; they were modest and unconcerned with things dealing of the flesh. This showed how good and decent Ivan was as a person. Ivan also talks of the bible to show that he is a decent, good person. After years of doing nothing but self-reflection on what had happened, Ivan had an epiphany on what he had witnessed the colonel do. "If this was done with such conviction and recognized as necessary by all, then it must be that they knew something that I didn't know'"¦I could not go into military service and, as you see, was never fit for anything." (674). Through the narration we see how scarring the beating of a man by another man. Ivan could not comprehend why it was done and so he was unable to advance in society.

"After the Ball" the story of Ivan and his life gone astray is caused by evil. This evil led Ivan to give up his pursuits in life. After witnessing evil, he was never the same. Ivan's own goodness was his downfall. His will to stand by his beliefs stopped him from accepting evil, which the rest of society looked passed that stopped him from advancement. He remained stagnant in his life, denied of all his hope and dreams Ivan was just to spend his life doing nothing. Good vs. Evil is a constant struggle and Ivan, the last good man in society gave up and the struggle and society struggle was over, evil became accepted. Ivan is the personification of pure good, he is of a lower class, but this makes him humble and a better man. Tolstoy criticized Russian society and through the literary techniques he shows that society has accepted evil as long as its masked and is not supposed to be seen. Ivan saw through that and had his mind forever alter. Tolstoy shows evil will always trample good and come out on top through the literary devices he used.