- An Enemy of the People
(MRS. STOCKMANN, PETRA and HORSTER come in from the sitting-
Mrs. Stockmann. Good gracious, Thomas! What is happening?
Dr. Stockmann (brandishing the umbrella). Jump out, I tell you!
Out into the gutter!
Hovstad. An assault on an unoffending man! I call you to witness,
Captain Horster. (Hurries out through the hall.)
Aslaksen (irresolutely). If only I knew the way about here--.
(Steals out through the sitting-room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (holding her husband back). Control yourself,
Dr. Stockmann (throwing down the umbrella). Upon my soul, they
have escaped after all.
Mrs. Stockmann. What did they want you to do?
Dr. Stockmann. I will tell you later on; I have something else to
think about now. (Goes to the table and writes something on a
calling-card.) Look there, Katherine; what is written there?
Mrs. Stockmann. Three big Noes; what does that mean.
Dr. Stockmann. I will tell you that too, later on. (Holds out the
card to PETRA.) There, Petra; tell sooty-face to run over to the
"Badger's" with that, as quick as she can. Hurry up! (PETRA takes
the card and goes out to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well, I think I have had a visit from every one of
the devil's messengers to-day! But now I am going to sharpen my
pen till they can feel its point; I shall dip it in venom and
gall; I shall hurl my inkpot at their heads!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but we are going away, you know, Thomas.
(PETRA comes back.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Petra. She has gone with it.
Dr. Stockmann. Good.--Going away, did you say? No, I'll be hanged
if we are going away! We are going to stay where we are,
Petra. Stay here?
Mrs. Stockmann. Here, in the town?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, here. This is the field of battle--this is
where the fight will be. This is where I shall triumph! As soon
as I have had my trousers sewn up I shall go out and look for
another house. We must have a roof over our heads for the winter.
Horster. That you shall have in my house.
Dr. Stockmann. Can I?
Horsier. Yes, quite well. I have plenty of room, and I am almost
never at home.
Mrs. Stockmann. How good of you, Captain Horster!
Petra. Thank you!
Dr. Stockmann (grasping his hand). Thank you, thank you! That is
one trouble over! Now I can set to work in earnest at once. There
is an endless amount of things to look through here, Katherine!
Luckily I shall have all my time at my disposal; because I have
been dismissed from the Baths, you know.
Mrs. Stockmann (with a sigh). Oh yes, I expected that.
Dr. Stockmann. And they want to take my practice away from me
too. Let them! I have got the poor people to fall back upon,
anyway--those that don't pay anything; and, after all, they need
me most, too. But, by Jove, they will have to listen to me; I
shall preach to them in season and out of season, as it says
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, I should have thought events
had showed you what use it is to preach.
Dr. Stockmann. You are really ridiculous, Katherine. Do you want
me to let myself be beaten off the field by public opinion and
the compact majority and all that devilry? No, thank you! And
what I want to do is so simple and clear and straightforward. I
only want to drum into the heads of these curs the fact that the
liberals are the most insidious enemies of freedom--that party
programmes strangle every young and vigorous truth--that
considerations of expediency turn morality and justice upside
down--and that they will end by making life here unbearable.
Don't you think, Captain Horster, that I ought to be able to make
people understand that?
Horster. Very likely; I don't know much about such things myself.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, look here--I will explain! It is the party
leaders that must be exterminated. A party leader is like a wolf,
you see--like a voracious wolf. He requires a certain number of
smaller victims to prey upon every year, if he is to live. Just
look at Hovstad and Aslaksen! How many smaller victims have they
not put an end to--or at any rate maimed and mangled until they
are fit for nothing except to be householders or subscribers to
the "People's Messenger"! (Sits down on the edge of the table.)
Come here, Katherine--look how beautifully the sun shines to-day!
And this lovely spring air I am drinking in!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, if only we could live on sunshine and spring
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you will have to pinch and save a bit--then we
shall get along. That gives me very little concern. What is much
worse is, that I know of no one who is liberal-minded and high-
minded enough to venture to take up my work after me.
Petra. Don't think about that, father; you have plenty of time
before you.--Hello, here are the boys already!
(EJLIF and MORTEN come in from the sitting-room.)
Mrs. Stockmann. Have you got a holiday?
Morten. No; but we were fighting with the other boys between
Ejlif. That isn't true; it was the other boys were fighting with
Morten. Well, and then Mr. Rorlund said we had better stay at
home for a day or two.
Dr. Stockmann (snapping his fingers and getting up from the
table). I have it! I have it, by Jove! You shall never set foot
in the school again!
The Boys. No more school!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas--
Dr. Stockmann. Never, I say. I will educate you myself; that is
to say, you shan't learn a blessed thing--
Dr. Stockmann. --but I will make liberal-minded and high-minded
men of you. You must help me with that, Petra.
Petra, Yes, father, you may be sure I will.
Dr. Stockmann. And my school shall be in the room where they
insulted me and called me an enemy of the people. But we are too
few as we are; I must have at least twelve boys to begin with.
Mrs. Stockmann. You will certainly never get them in this town.
Dr. Stockmann. We shall. (To the boys.) Don't you know any street
Morten. Yes, father, I know lots!
Dr. Stockmann. That's capital! Bring me some specimens of them. I
am going to experiment with curs, just for once; there may be
some exceptional heads among them.
Morten. And what are we going to do, when you have made liberal-
minded and high-minded men of us?
Dr. Stockmann. Then you shall drive all the wolves out of the
country, my boys!
(EJLIF looks rather doubtful about it; MORTEN jumps about crying
Mrs. Stockmann. Let us hope it won't be the wolves that will
drive you out of the country, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you out of your mind, Katherine? Drive me out!
Now--when I am the strongest man in the town!
Mrs. Stockmann. The strongest--now?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and I will go so far as to say that now I am
the strongest man in the whole world.
Morten. I say!
Dr. Stockmann (lowering his voice). Hush! You mustn't say
anything about it yet; but I have made a great discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. Another one?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. (Gathers them round him, and says
confidentially:) It is this, let me tell you--that the strongest
man in the world is he who stands most alone.
Mrs. Stockmann (smiling and shaking her head). Oh, Thomas,
Petra (encouragingly, as she grasps her father's hands). Father!
Previous - An Enemy of the People - Next