Tag Archives: Dr. Stockmann

An Enemy of the People: Economy and Dr. Stockmann

   In An Enemy of the People, we see both Dr. Stockmann and the economy vs. the people in society. From the beginning, we see both Dr. Stockmann and the economy play roles as the enemy of the people. The pressure put on Dr. Stockmann to decide what to do about the contamination leads him to become the “enemy of the people” (people being the townspeople). Dr. Stockmann’s decision to shut down the baths occurs towards the end of Act I. he says, “Ah, you remember Petra– I wrote opposing the plans before the work was begun. But at that time no one would listen to me, Well, I am going to let them have it, now! Of course I have prepared a report for the Baths Committee; I have had it ready for a week, and was only waiting for this to come” (14). Here, we see Dr. Stockmann upset about the town’s decision not to listen to his original plans regarding the construction of the baths, and blames them for their disobedience as to why the water is now contaminated. This quote shifts into Dr. Stockmann now becoming the “enemy of the people”.

     On the other hand, we see the myor opposing Dr. Stockmann’s suggestion to shut down the baths to repair them. He feels this decision will greaty effect the economy and lose money. He rather put it off a few years. In this section of the text, the enemy of the people can be seen as the economy. Having to shut down the baths will be a catastrophe to the economy which during this time, the mayor feels cannot afford to be worsened. He rather put it off, wait a few years, which will lead to more people getting sick from the contamination.

So overall, we see two opposing views which play as enemies of the people: Dr. Stockmann with his suggestion to shut down the baths and have the townspeople mad at him; and the economy, which the mayor feels should not be affected by Dr. Stockmann’s suggestion and be left alone, leaving the contamination there.

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Alienation as a Result of Family Loyalty vs. Morality

Although there are many themes in An Enemy of the People, the one that was most prevalent to me was the issue of family loyalty vs. morality and it’s role of alienation in a community.

Dr. Stockmann is left with a difficult choice of letting the people know about the contaminations of the baths or keeping it hidden in effort to protect his job, family, and reputation. At a time when the idea of bacteria wasn’t very accepted, Dr. Stockmann decides to stay loyal to his findings and tell the people that the baths are contaminated. After he tells the town, they declare him an enemy of the people.

Once declared an enemy, Dr. Stockmann is alienated from their town, as well as the rest of his family and Horster. The children get kicked out of school, Dr. Stockmann loses his job, and Horster is fired from his job as captain of a ship. Even though Dr. Stockmann did what was morally just in his point of view, the town sees that he is an enemy. His brother, Peter, only adds to the furry by siding with the public due to the fact that Dr. Stockmann has gone against family loyalty and the baths without evident “proof”. Dr. Stockmann is alienated from his community due to the fact that everyone around him has similar ideals to his brother in saying, “We dared not do otherwise on account of public opinion.” (Act 5).  To me, An Enemy of the People shows how the issue between family loyalty and doing what’s right don’t always lead to the same resolution. This play teaches a valuable lesson of standing up for what you believe in, regardless of circumstance.

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