An Enemy of the People by H Ibsen
An Enemy of the People
Playwrights – H. Ibsen
SYNOPSIS OF THE PLAY
Ibsen is a Norwegian playwright he was born in 1828-1905.The play deals with political and environmental issues .The action of the play passes during four consecutive days in early spring of the year 1881-1882 at a costal town in southern part.
The town in which the play was set built a huge bathing complex which was very crucial for the development of the town .Doctor Stockman discovers that the baths drainage system is seriously contaminated. He decides to report the matter to Mr. Houstad,Billing and Aslaksen who are the people working in the newspaper(The Herlad).
Next morning his brother Peter Stockman who is the Mayor of the town hears that his young brother has discovered something in the bathing system. Mayor tells Dr. ignore his discovery as it is very expensive to repair the bathing system.
As if not enough the mayor goes to the Herlad to order the workers (Horstad,Billing and Aslaksen) that they should not print Dr’s article. After that obstacle Dr Decided to call the meeting to talk to his people about his finding once again he finds some challenges in getting the venue.
Finally, Dr. succeeds to find a place where he can address the majority .Unfortunately the solid majority see his speech offensive to them .Next morning they went to Dr’s house and renderlise it. Her daughter Retra was fired from her job, Morten and Elif was chosen away from school, Captain Hostar and Dr. himself
At Dr. Thomas stockman’s sitting room, Katherine together with Mr. Billing who is eating after been served a meal, later joined by peter, then Mr. hovstad they begin speaking about the bath and how it has played a role in bringing development in the town plus the “The herald magazine. Dr. Stockman arrives with the boys later on along with captain Horste.
Peter and Dr. stockman begin talking, peter is curious to know why Thomas is so caught up with writing articles about the bath and warns him that if he gets too far it might cost him then he leave normal conversation proceeds, they decide to have a cup of tea (today) later on Petra gets back home with a letter for Dr. Thomas he receives it anxiously because his been waiting for it for long. He exists to another room to read it, Katherine on the other hand explains how this letter must be of importance to him to the others.
Dr Stockman comes back later claiming he got good news a victual discovery about the baths being a play spot, he examines how he got all this discovered.
Katherine argues why he didn’t say earlier but on the other hand it was found out on the right time. After all that, they had to wish Dr. Stockman good luck knowing what he might face bringing this news to public.
The same scene as in act one, Katherine brings a letter to Dr. Stockman from peter it says that he will here to see him during midday. Morten kiil comes in asking about what he heard about the bath, he was told by Petra on the way, and Dr. Stockman confirms that it’s true.
But the morten kiil brings the idea that it might not please Peter as in the discovery Mr. Hovstad also hearing about the news as they speak about it he comes up with a thought that he believes that is the pollutions not the only cause for this issue but rather a marsh what he calls it, it involves the people in high positions (something to do with bureaucrats) he also tells doctor that how sure is he that he might get his way in this situation.
The doctor believing that this is common sense it therefore should be solved. Another visitor Mr Aslaksen also asking if the new about the discovery is true, after the doctor confirms it, he offers to give support claiming that middlemen forming a “solid majority” are behind him he even speaks having a demonstration, regarding to the fact that he is the chairman of the house holders Association hence has influence to a great number of people. They also agree that an article about this should be written.
Peter arrives later on when Hovstad and Morten have left, Petra is back peter and Thomas have a private conversation in the dining room. Peter is angry regarding the investigation on the baths done behind his back, the suggestions made towards the issue that they might cost allot, it will also lead to decline in economy in the town. The conversation was long and involved threats as well (Dismissal) this leads to the saying enemy of the people which was told to Thomas by Peter Katherine is worried about her husband who is now angry about is going on.
At the editors office into the Herald office, Mr. Billing and Mr. Hovstad were having a chat on the possibility of anything happening towards the recent issue on the bath with regards to the major.
Letter on Dr. Thomas enters, angry still emphasis on the printing of the article which should be supervised by Aslaksen conservation among au proceeds proving Dr. Stockman to be courageous.And the rest assuring him that they will support him.
Dr. Stockman leaves later on a chat they the matter proceeds whereby Mr. Hovstad Mr. Aslaksen seems to be worries that if things go too far, there might be worried that if things go too far, there might to be problems, the rest claim that he is scared.
Petra comes in later on wanting to return a story book was given to her translate it, she says she cannot, Mr. Hovstad does not know the content of whatever is in it simply because he cannot read English.
Petra argues that whatever is in there cannot be kept in the herald simply because it carried along things that don’t really happen in reality, Mr. Hovstad now puts the blame on Billing that he was the one who brought the idea.
The conversation became bitter when they end up talking about Petra’s father and the discovery plus Mr. Hovstad saying that Thomas cannot do it without him. Petra leaves, by surprise the mayor comes to the Herald’s office.
Without wanting to be seen he uses the back door, his aim is to persuade hovstad and the rest not to print the article but mostly not to support Dr. Stockman, he speaks of the costs the town will incur loans if possible, raising tax and at the end forcing the other to change their minds.
Suddenly Dr. Stockman forcing Peter to hide (billing office).With panic hovstad asks why he is back, and the Doctor say that he is so concerned that he doesn’t mind coming back twice.
Kate also walks in wanting or claiming that she supports her husband she is here to tell him that he is been fooled, he disagrees but within or claiming that she supports her husband, she is here to tell him that he is been fooled, he disagrees but within a minute, he finds out that its true.
Seeing Peters cap and stick, proving that he is here and was trying to talk them over. This was true right after Dr. Stockman saw him and started to confront him, but it still does no good after Hovstad and Billing together with Aslaksen refuse to help again, stockman and his wife leave the office with anger and determination to stand on the truth, he claims to organize a mass meeting.
A mass meeting was prepared in captain Horster’s house, people of all classes enter, almost full mostly men, few women and a small group of school boys.
Few citizens’ start questioning why they are here, because of Dr. Stockman who going to have a go at the mayor, his brother, why the House Holder Association nor the city club didn’t give him a hall and much more.
Captain Horster, a brave man who cares and supports Dr. Stockman and his family, Hovstad, Aslasksen and Billing are also present, later on Peter and Thomas also arrive.
Doctor is ready to start when Aslasksen suggest that they elect a chairrman, the citizens also agree, first they choose the mayor but he choose Aslasksen (president of the House – Holder Association)
Peter is honoured as the mayor to Address then Dr. Stockman begins whereby his speech is faced with objections at large, All this is due to his discovery, but rather not the baths as what he claims, he speaks of his love for his native town what he has done and much more.
Being told not to talk about the baths, Dr. Stockman decides to speak of moral decay in the society that the people are morally polluted. Also he talks of how the majority is always wrong because it is full of fools (pg 80) but rather the minority is always right, Mr. Hovstad declared that the Doctor is a revolutionary, he as wondering from the subject (page 81) which he agrees because he wants to stand on the truth an why the people do not want to listen to him (83)
Also Dr. Stockman claims that Mr. Hovstad is a Hypocrite (pg 84) because he turned the whole thing upside down. As the presentation proceeds, Dr Stockman is declared an enemy of people because he would rather see the town perish than prospering on a lie (page 86) and people agree. Mr Billing and Mr Aslaksen as agree to the Dr. Being an enemy of the people.
The meeting ends with noises, people shooting that the Dr. Is an enemy of the people (pg. 90) Dr and his family together with captain, Horster leave.
The last act in the play takes place in Dr. Stockman’s consulting room. It is the morning after the lecture (p.92) window panes are broken a few stones can be seen.
We than remember that the crowd promised to smash the windows and they did. Dr. Stockman collects them so as to be a reminder for Eilif and Morten when they grow up.
A letter arrives, it is a notice from the landlord that they have to move out, it is obvious that he is forced by authority to do because he was such nice man. Petra gets back home because she has been dismissed from where she was teaching by Mrs Busk who also received threats (3 letters comes to her things morning)
Also in this act it is also learn that captain Horster has been dismissed from his work as a captain of the ship only because lent Dr. Stockman (pg 97) his house by his boss Mr. Vik. This also affects the fact that Dr. Stockman was to give him a lift as he was to leave the polluted country.
Peter also comes hypocritically, to sympathize with Dr. Stockman for what happened last night and at the same time he gives the Doctor a letter of dismissal that he will not be a doctor anymore, he was not be consulted and after wards peter advises him to write a letter of apology (meaning that he made a mistake but the doctor remains firm. He simply tell Katherine to scrub the floor to remove Peter’s dirt (pg (102).
Another consequence is that Dr stockman is made to experience is the fact that Mortem kiil decides to buy more shares of the spa baths, he uses the money that he wanted to give Katherine (103 – 104). He did this to punish Dr. Stockman who still stays firm and calls his father in law a devil (105).
Dr. Stockman proves that he hates hypocrisy by chasing away Mr. Hovstad and Aslaksen, threaten to hit them with an umbrella, they came to sympathize.
Also his sons come back suspended from school the doctor he will teach them himself (113) And because the doctors is determined to stay firm, he declares himself as the strongest man in the world “the strongest man in the world is he who stands alone.
1. Dr Thomas stockman
- Father of Motern , Eilif, Petra and husband to Katherine
- He is a doctor (intellectual)
- A brother to peter
- Short temptered
- Self centred
3. Mr. Hovstad
Dr. Stockman’s wife
- Kind – way she deals with visitors
6. Mr. Aslaksen
Chairman of house holders association, sub- editor
- Betrayer – the doctor
7. Captain Hoster – A captain, travelled
8. Morten kill
A. Elaborations of Character traits
1. Dr. Stockman
– Determined – to find out.
Dr. Stockman was determined to act upon his discovery, that is to ensure renovation of the baths from the pollution.
-Confident – believe in one’s ability
Dr. Stockman knew he was right and he trusted his ability to stand and fight against any form of obstacle regarding his discovery.
– Patriotic – Love for ones country
Dr. Stockman proved to love his own country and was ready to do anything regardless the consequences for it. The way he fought for his discovery because he cared about the peoples welfare and ended up being the enemy of the people.
-Radical – One who advocated for change
Dr Stockman wanted the baths renovated after his discovery regarding its contamination.
-Optimistic – believe that good things will prevail
After the doctor made his discovery he believed that eventually actions will be taken upon the matter.
-Humble – Does not think he is better or more Important than others
Dr. Stockman was kind to visitors at his home
Caring – feel concerned about someone
Dr. Stockman care about his town much that he wants to expose a disgraceful state of affairs
-Selfish – To think about yourself and not about (self centred) other people
Peter was selfish in the sense that he did not care about others regarding the discovery he didn’t want renovation to take place he didn’t want renovation to take place because there would be a loss on his side.
–Hypocrite – Pretend to have feelings that you don’t have
Peter went back to the doctor after the meeting claiming that he cared but he actually didn’t.
Also he pretended to care about the people by telling them the effects of the renovation which were false.
Also he was a hypocrite to Hovstad and aslaksen telling them false information hence they changed their mind towards helping Dr. Stockman.
-Conning – Plan something behind someone’s back.
Peter being gains the discovery, he decided to speak to hovstad and aslaksen behind the doctors back so as to change their minds.
–Cunning – To achieve something by lying
Peter achieved what he wanted by lying to Hovstad, Aslasksen and the society by making them belief that the renovation of the baths will cost a lot and they will have to contribute to it.
3. Mr. Hovstad
-Hypocrite – to pretend to have feelings that you don’t have Mr.Hovstad pretended to side with the doctor after betraying him because of peter, he and Aslaksen came back later to apologise but the doctor chased them away.
-Naive – Easily convinced by peter to betray the doctor with his discovery after peter claiming the effects of the renovation.
-Coward – He was a coward because he was afraid of peter who convinced him to side with him against stockman.
– Egocentric – Because he thinks he is very important and that others cannot do without him (pg 56) He speaks to Petra, then ends up telling her that her father cannot do without him.
-Kind – Having intentions to good. Katherine was kind because of the way she was dealing with visitors.
– Responsible – Having a job or duty to do something Katherine was a responsible mother regarding the fact she cared much about her kids future life consider the situation they were getting into and
-Hospital/humble – she cared about others mostly the way she handled visitors and also she did not think that others are not important.
-Radical – Concerning the most basic and important parts of something.
-Petra was concerned with the system of the society (how children are taught lies at school and at home are not told the truth).
-Confident – feeling sure about her ability to do something.
6. Mr. Aslaksen
-Hypocrite – Pretend to have feelings that you don’t have Aslaksen pretended to care about Doctor stockman and dared to come apologies but was chased away
together with Hovstad.
-Naive – Easily convinced
Peter convinced him together with Aslaksen to betray stockman by giving them wrong information about effects to having to renovate the baths. -Coward – One
who is afraid
Aslaksen was afraid of the mayor, him and hovstad and hence they were easily convinced to betray the Doctor.
– Betrayer – a serious breach of trust.
Aslaksen not only betrayed the doctor but also the citizens by feeding them wrong information.
7. Captain Horster
– Caring – Cared about doctor Stockmann and his family as he was beneath them through the whole situation.
– Generous – Kind enough to let the doctor use his house for the meeting and offered to sail with them before the cost his job.
– Courageous – Regardless the whole Dr. Situatation, the captain did not hold back to support them.
– Patriotic – Loves his country enough to support for what’s good for it .
– Wise – He has moved around the world, hence knows a lot to make them know the best.
THEMES IN AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
– Peter betrays his brother
– Motern kill betrays Katherine and the kids
– Hovstad and Aslaksen betray the doctor
– Solid majority betrays the doctor
– The bosses of petra, Dr, Hoster betrayed
Misuse of power for personal gain
– The mayor practises corruption towards hovstad and Aslaksen
– The mayor towards the solid majority.
Love for ones country
– Dr. Stockman
– Captain Horster
Pretending to have feelings that you don’t have.
Mr Hovstad and Aslaksen is hypocrite to Katherine, doctor, and to the people
Peter is hypocrite to Dr.Stockman, people, Hovstad and aslaksen
A clash between two parties
– Dr.Stockman + Katherine
– Dr.Stockman + Peter
– Dr.Stockman + Aslaksen and Hovstad
– Dr.Stockman + People
– Dr.Stockman + Hovstad
– Dr.Stockman + Peter
– Dr.Stockman + Morten Kiil
– Petra what goes down in the entire society.
Lack of knowledge or information about something people of the society
Introduction of unwanted material to the environment
– Pollution of the water bath
– Pollution of the land (marsh land)
– Society is polluted through receiving the wrong information from the media
– Reaction against unwanted situation
– Doctor why discovery
– How publisizing, holding a meeting
– People against the doctor
Why against his idea
How threw stones
– Petra against the system society
– Why – they teach lies
– How express her views and saying
– That she could open her own school
Act of dealing with something difficult or unpleasant in order to achieve something
– Captain Hoster
The behaviour of a person when they feel that they are more important than other people
– Mr. Hovstad (pg 56)
– Mortern kill
Fear or lack of courage
– Mr Hovstad and Aslaksen
STYLE IN H. IBSENT
The play uses simple less formal and didactic language possibly with the intention of making sure that reader understands.
Originally the play was written in Norwegian language – Nordic which was later translated to an English version by max Faber.
A part from the simple language used, he has also made use of imagery.
A symbol refers to the use of specific concrete objects to stand for one or more abstract ideas for example a wedding ring has came to symbolize the qualities which marriage ideally represent the ring symbolizes the following.
i. The preciousness of the ring (gold) symbolizes the preciousness of marriage.
ii. The ring symbolizes lifelong commitment it is circular with no end,
In the play the following symbols are found.
i. The baths
These symbolize the town leaders and their followers. These baths are contaminated filthy and dirty hence represent leaders like the major, Hovstad, Aslaksen and the people who clear them up.
ii. Water in the baths
The water symbolizes the citizens of the town. The water was tasted in the hall but could not stand the taste for truth and therefore they (citizens) are guilty in fact they are contaminated by their leaders’ guilty.
The Tannery symbolise the greediness of the leaders which deeds to the filth of precipitation of all the filth.
E.g. of the filth
Not here that the contaminating germs in the baths are from the tannery the ills of the leaders are a result of their greediness.
This is the arrangement of the presentation of events and information in a fiction or drama in such a way that later events into the work are prepared for (introduced in advance)