An Enemy of the People An Enemy of the People discussion


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My thought on "An Enemy of the People"

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message 1: by Opeyemi (new)

Opeyemi Obiwumi When I read An Enemy of the People I could not help but to dislike Dr. Stockmann; To me he seemed like a self righteous extremist. In the novel Aslaksen said, "when a man has vested interest in something, he can't be expected to think of everything.", and I think that is what Dr. Stockmann's main problem is; he is so set on his one plan to expose the truth and fix the pool that he doesn't care how it affects others. Although I understand the townspeople were wrong to try and hide the truth, I can honestly say that if I was them I would do the same thing. To me it just feels like the doctor is doing all this to selfishly show that he's in that right and is the only one fighting for the truth. There were other methods to fix the pool, yet the doctor refuses to think of any solution other than the one that shows he was in the right all along. I honestly feel like if Dr. Stockmann cared to, he could have come up with a solution that would not ruin the town, like changing the pools water from fresh to salt water. The doctor had mentioned in his rant against the people that they knew how to cure meat to kill the bacteria, so why not just cure the water. I believe if the doctor had been willing to sit down with his brother and come up with a less extreme solution he could have found a way to clean the pool without destroying the town. In this way I believe Dr. Stockmann brought the hatred of the townspeople upon himself. And I know this sound like me blaming the victim, but there were less extreme methods of fixing the pool, Dr. stockmann just didn't care to look into them.


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Oct 31, 2015 08:03PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks You're approaching the problem from a modern standpoint, because in the modern world we usually do have a 'host of other solutions' to try thanks to gradual advances in technology. Set that out of your mind when you read a story of this vintage.

Instead, remember that in the more religious timeperiod and more religious nation used in the story, Christianity was everything. Every 'other move' you think Stockman might have made, has its parable in the life of Christ.

Would Christ have 'sat down with Pilate' to work out some deal? Would Christ have tolerated backsliding, lack of transparency? Would he have taken part in ANY kind of untruth whatsoever? Would he have even for a moment considered any kind of less-moral path than the one he took?

This model is the yoke for a man like Dr. Stockman, and Ibsen's purpose in penning the story was to show that the townspeople represent--in the main--the larger part of society, those who always look for the 'easy way out' and yet still profess themselves to be upright Christians.

Stockman did not put his personal aggrandizement or fame anywhere in his decision for doing what he did. For, the result he faced for pursuing his path was ostracism. At the end of the story he is boarded up inside his own house, hated by everyone for reminding them of their true duties. How is that desirable to him? How does that recompense him for--as you suggest--his supposed 'glee' at 'being right'? His life is *ruined* by his actions (and not only his life but that of his family). Obviously, personal satisfaction did not factor into his aims.

Clearly, he cares very deeply what happens to everyone--but doing the right thing (he sees) matters more. He had every pragmatic reason to backslide, as you describe--but he turned it down.

Remember, this is what Christ did. He was given every opportunity to chicken out of the crucifixion. He didn't.


message 3: by Angel (new)

Angel Reed Is he really self righteous if he is willing to sacrifise his own creation as well as his reputation just for the health and well being of the people? After all, he was the one who came up with the idea for the Springs which financially saved the town and thus, made him somewhat of a hero. Nonetheless, he was willing to abandon this title in order to shed light on a serious issue that was affecting everyone, not just all over the town, but all over the world. How can you say he does not care how exposing the Springs affects others when this is his main reasoning for its exposure? He is determined to do what he believes is morally correct and best for the people, whether they realize it or not. The only thing the doctor is doing is exposing the corruption and money-hungry leaders within the town that care more about their financial status than their own health. Dr. Stockmann is a brave man.


Richard I think this opinion doesn't take into consideration that the problem is one that is hurting people NOW and that the only solution known NOW is what he has to work towards. Your solution allows people to be poisoned as you work to find a different solution. That is morally indefensible yet easy to say. Look how easily you assume, with no scientific studies into the matter, no engineering analysis whatsoever, that another solution is there that will cause no harm to anyone...this is blind faith that no conflicts should ever occur; that economics is God. While you look for a better solution you would still need to close the baths (wouldn't it be funny if after an exhaustive search you closed it for years and then found that the original solution was in fact the only solution humanly possible...basically like being responsible for a bridge and when it falls down spending a decade with no bridge searching for another method for cars to travel to an island before realizing that the cheapest option was, in fact, to build another one). Would you keep the problem quiet while allowing people to go everyday to a poisoned environment? Because, remember, closing the baths with the negative publicity and the competition stealing market-share are just as much part of the problem laid out in the book to the economic powers of the community as the expensive solution. Would you be fine with strangers going, but warn your loved ones not to go while you researched another solution? Would you quietly allow the bath stakeholders to advertise untruths, promising a revitalization of health to those desperate for improvements in their conditions, due to feeling an obligation to have the customer's money continue to be given to the advertiser's as an expression of their desire for what was advertised, despite its opposite effect? If you wouldn't, then you have merely avoided the drama of a drama because it was too dramatic to face. How cowardly you must be in real life! Perhaps before you chose to write this public cry for moderation in all things, you should have considered the implications first?


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