From the Russian Revolution to Today: The Human Desire for Religious Freedom in Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2017

Faculty Sponsor

Jacky O'Connor


Evident through the power of the Russian Orthodoxy, the tumultuous fall of the tsarist regime, and the formation of a Communist party controlled government, religion and a thirst for power played a critical role during the period of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Tensions between the extreme ideologies resulted in the prohibition of religious practices, leaving many Russian citizens without the identities and sense of security of their belief systems. However, it is the strong belief systems that are the hardest to eradicate, especially ones as deeply institutionalized as the Russian Orthodoxy. Written in the aftermath of the ruthless revolution, Boris Pasternak’s novel, Doctor Zhivago, takes readers on a journey across a lifetime that encompasses the tense political state of Russia, ultimately culminating in the revolution, and the post-revolution struggles for a sense of identity and security. In the wake of a novel riddled with biblical allusions and power struggles between church and state, this essay explores concepts of religion, the critical role it played in the lives of many Russians following the revolution, and finally, the desire for religious freedom that transcends the binds of time. (186)

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