- An Enemy of the People
Peter Stockmann (after a short pause). You are an extraordinarily
independent man, Thomas. Have you given no thought to the
consequences this may have for yourself?
Dr. Stockmann. Consequences?--for me?
Peter Stockmann. For you and yours, yes.
Dr. Stockmann. What the deuce do you mean?
Peter Stockmann. I believe I have always behaved in a brotherly
way to you--haven't I always been ready to oblige or to help you?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you have, and I am grateful to you for it.
Peter Stockmann. There is no need. Indeed, to some extent I was
forced to do so--for my own sake. I always hoped that, if I
helped to improve your financial position, I should be able to
keep some check on you,
Dr. Stockmann. What! Then it was only for your own sake--!
Peter Stockmann. Up to a certain point, yes. It is painful for a
man in an official position to have his nearest relative
compromising himself time after time.
Dr. Stockmann. And do you consider that I do that?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, unfortunately, you do, without even being
aware of it. You have a restless, pugnacious, rebellious
disposition. And then there is that disastrous propensity of
yours to want to write about every sort of possible and
impossible thing. The moment an idea comes into your head, you
must needs go and write a newspaper article or a whole pamphlet
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but is it not the duty of a citizen to let
the public share in any new ideas he may have?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, the public doesn't require any new ideas.
The public is best served by the good, old established ideas it
Dr. Stockmann. And that is your honest opinion?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, and for once I must talk frankly to you.
Hitherto I have tried to avoid doing so, because I know how
irritable you are; but now I must tell you the truth, Thomas. You
have no conception what an amount of harm you do yourself by your
impetuosity. You complain of the authorities, you even complain
of the government--you are always pulling them to pieces; you
insist that you have been neglected and persecuted. But what else
can such a cantankerous man as you expect?
Dr. Stockmann. What next! Cantankerous, am I?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, Thomas, you are an extremely cantankerous
man to work with--I know that to my cost. You disregard
everything that you ought to have consideration for. You seem
completely to forget that it is me you have to thank for your
appointment here as medical officer to the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. I was entitled to it as a matter of course!--I and
nobody else! I was the first person to see that the town could be
made into a flourishing watering-place, and I was the only one
who saw it at that time. I had to fight single-handed in support
of the idea for many years; and I wrote and wrote--
Peter Stockmann. Undoubtedly. But things were not ripe for the
scheme then--though, of course, you could not judge of that in
your out-of-the-way corner up north. But as soon as the opportune
moment came I--and the others--took the matter into our hands
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and made this mess of all my beautiful plan.
It is pretty obvious now what clever fellows you were!
Peter Stockmann. To my mind the whole thing only seems to mean
that you are seeking another outlet for your combativeness. You
want to pick a quarrel with your superiors--an old habit of
yours. You cannot put up with any authority over you. You look
askance at anyone who occupies a superior official position; you
regard him as a personal enemy, and then any stick is good enough
to beat him with. But now I have called your attention to the
fact that the town's interests are at stake--and, incidentally,
my own too. And therefore, I must tell you, Thomas, that you will
find me inexorable with regard to what I am about to require you
Dr. Stockmann. And what is that?
Peter Stockmann. As you have been so indiscreet as to speak of
this delicate matter to outsiders, despite the fact that you
ought to have treated it as entirely official and confidential,
it is obviously impossible to hush it up now. All sorts of
rumours will get about directly, and everybody who has a grudge
against us will take care to embellish these rumours. So it will
be necessary for you to refute them publicly.
Dr. Stockmann. I! How? I don't understand.
Peter Stockmann. What we shall expect is that, after making
further investigations, you will come to the conclusion that the
matter is not by any means as dangerous or as critical as you
imagined in the first instance.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho!--so that is what you expect!
Peter Stockmann. And, what is more, we shall expect you to make
public profession of your confidence in the Committee and in
their readiness to consider fully and conscientiously what steps
may be necessary to remedy any possible defects.
Dr. Stockmann. But you will never be able to do that by patching
and tinkering at it--never! Take my word for it, Peter; I mean
what I say, as deliberately and emphatically as possible.
Peter Stockmann. As an officer under the Committee, you have no
right to any individual opinion.
Dr. Stockmann (amazed). No right?
Peter Stockmann. In your official capacity, no. As a private
person, it is quite another matter. But as a subordinate member
of the staff of the Baths, you have no right to express any
opinion which runs contrary to that of your superiors.
Dr. Stockmann. This is too much! I, a doctor, a man of science,
have no right to--!
Peter Stockmann. The matter in hand is not simply a scientific
one. It is a complicated matter, and has its economic as well as
its technical side.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't care what it is! I intend to be free to
express my opinion on any subject under the sun.
Peter Stockmann. As you please--but not on any subject concerning
the Baths. That we forbid.
Dr, Stockmann (shouting). You forbid--! You! A pack of--
Peter Stockmann. I forbid it--I, your chief; and if I forbid
it, you have to obey.
Dr. Stockmann (controlling himself). Peter--if you were not my
Petra (throwing open the door). Father, you shan't stand this!
Mrs, Stockmann (coming in after her). Petra, Petra!
Peter Stockmann. Oh, so you have been eavesdropping.
Mrs. Stockmann. You were talking so loud, we couldn't help it!
Petra. Yes, I was listening.
Peter Stockmann. Well, after all, I am very glad--
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). You were saying something about
forbidding and obeying?
Peter Stockmann. You obliged me to take that tone with you.
Dr. Stockmann. And so I am to give myself the lie, publicly?
Peter Stockmann. We consider it absolutely necessary that you
should make some such public statement as I have asked for.
Dr. Stockmann. And if I do not--obey?
Peter Stockmann. Then we shall publish a statement ourselves to
reassure the public.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; but in that case I shall use my pen
against you. I stick to what I have said; I will show that I am
right and that you are wrong. And what will you do then?
Peter Stockmann. Then I shall not be able to prevent your being
Dr. Stockmann. What--?
Mrs. Stockmann. Dismissed!
Peter Stockmann. Dismissed from the staff of the Baths. I shall
be obliged to propose that you shall immediately be given notice,
and shall not be allowed any further participation in the Baths'
Dr. Stockmann. You would dare to do that!
Peter Stockmann. It is you that are playing the daring game.
Petra. Uncle, that is a shameful way to treat a man like father!
Mrs. Stockmann. Do hold your tongue, Petra!
Peter Stockmann (looking at PETRA). Oh, so we volunteer our
opinions already, do we? Of course. (To MRS. STOCKMANN.)
Katherine, I imagine you are the most sensible person in this
house. Use any influence you may have over your husband, and make
him see what this will entail for his family as well as--
Dr. Stockmann. My family is my own concern and nobody else's!
Peter Stockmann. --for his own family, as I was saying, as well
as for the town he lives in.
Dr. Stockmann. It is I who have the real good of the town at
heart! I want to lay bare the defects that sooner or later must
come to the light of day. I will show whether I love my native
Peter Stockmann. You, who in your blind obstinacy want to cut off
the most important source of the town's welfare?
Dr. Stockmann. The source is poisoned, man! Are you mad? We are
making our living by retailing filth and corruption! The whole of
our flourishing municipal life derives its sustenance from a lie!
Peter Stockmann. All imagination--or something even worse. The
man who can throw out such offensive insinuations about his
native town must be an enemy to our community.
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). Do you dare to--!
Mrs. Stockmann (throwing herself between them). Thomas!
Petra (catching her father by the arm). Don't lose your temper,
Peter Stockmann. I will not expose myself to violence. Now you
have had a warning; so reflect on what you owe to yourself and
your family. Goodbye. (Goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (walking up and down). Am I to put up with such
treatment as this? In my own house, Katherine! What do you think
Mrs. Stockmann. Indeed it is both shameful and absurd, Thomas--
Petra. If only I could give uncle a piece of my mind--
Dr. Stockmann. It is my own fault. I ought to have flown out at
him long ago!--shown my teeth!--bitten! To hear him call me an
enemy to our community! Me! I shall not take that lying down,
upon my soul!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, your brother has power on his
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but I have right on mine, I tell you.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh yes, right--right. What is the use of having
right on your side if you have not got might?
Petra. Oh, mother!--how can you say such a thing!
Dr. Stockmann. Do you imagine that in a free country it is no use
having right on your side? You are absurd, Katherine. Besides,
haven't I got the liberal-minded, independent press to lead the
way, and the compact majority behind me? That is might enough, I
Mrs. Stockmann. But, good heavens, Thomas, you don't mean to?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't mean to what?
Mrs. Stockmann. To set yourself up in opposition to your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. In God's name, what else do you suppose I should
do but take my stand on right and truth?
Petra. Yes, I was just going to say that.
Mrs. Stockmann. But it won't do you any earthly good. If they
won't do it, they won't.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho, Katherine! Just give me time, and you will
see how I will carry the war into their camp.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, you carry the war into their camp, and you
get your dismissal--that is what you will do.
Dr. Stockmann. In any case I shall have done my duty towards the
public--towards the community, I, who am called its enemy!
Mrs. Stockmann. But towards your family, Thomas? Towards your own
home! Do you think that is doing your duty towards those you have
to provide for?
Petra. Ah, don't think always first of us, mother.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, it is easy for you to talk; you are able to
shift for yourself, if need be. But remember the boys, Thomas;
and think a little of yourself too, and of me--
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are out of your senses, Katherine! If
I were to be such a miserable coward as to go on my knees to
Peter and his damned crew, do you suppose I should ever know an
hour's peace of mind all my life afterwards?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know anything about that; but God
preserve us from the peace of mind we shall have, all the same,
if you go on defying him! You will find yourself again without
the means of subsistence, with no income to count upon. I should
think we had had enough of that in the old days. Remember that,
Thomas; think what that means.
Dr. Stockmann (collecting himself with a struggle and clenching
his fists). And this is what this slavery can bring upon a free,
honourable man! Isn't it horrible, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, it is sinful to treat you so, it is
perfectly true. But, good heavens, one has to put up with so much
injustice in this world. There are the boys, Thomas! Look at
them! What is to become of them? Oh, no, no, you can never have
the heart--. (EJLIF and MORTEN have come in, while she was
speaking, with their school books in their hands.)
Dr. Stockmann. The boys-- I (Recovers himself suddenly.) No, even
if the whole world goes to pieces, I will never bow my neck to
this yokel (Goes towards his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (following him). Thomas--what are you going to do!
Dr. Stockmann (at his door). I mean to have the right to look my
sons in the face when they are grown men. (Goes into his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (bursting into tears). God help us all!
Petra. Father is splendid! He will not give in.
(The boys look on in amazement; PETRA signs to them not to
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