To me, this story is about petty sibling rivalry. This power struggle is between Dr. Stockmann and his brother. They have sibling rivalry issues, and neither of them has learned to maturely deal with these issues by the time they are adult men. The source of the conflict–the baths issue–is just an instigator that brings their suppressed animosity to a head. Peter is supposed to be an official which means he should have experience being diplomatic. However, he throws diplomacy out the window and resorts to name calling: “You have a restless, pugnacious, rebellious disposition.” (p. 27) And then he says, “. . . there is that disastrous propensity of yours to want to write about every sort of possible and impossible thing” as if that opinion has been ingrained in his brain for a long time now about his brother. Maybe he is jealous of Dr. Stockmann?
Dr. Stockmann does not help much either. He loses all focus when it’s his time to give the people his speech. He makes it personal and loses it, calling the people stupid animals (aka “pigs” and “parasites”). This will not help his argument whatsoever. Why does he do this? He should know better. He blames the enemy of truth on the “compact Liberal majority” and says, “. . . at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority.” (p. 59) Does he really think he’s going to get the support from the very people he’s insulting? Both of these men have people skills they need to work on. They didn’t even try to reach a compromise. It was like, “I can’t see your way because you’re a loser in this and this respect . . .so there!” I feel like so much more could have been accomplished if they had exercised a little diplomacy or maturity on both parts. There was absolutely no way they were going to simply work together and sort the baths issue out. The just immediately flew off the handle in a hot headed manner and refused to listen to each other. This caused the situation to escalate and quickly turn into something much bigger.