An Enemy of the people..?

Does anyone know the literature text An Enemy of The People?

Its about the conflict between two brothers, one a Doctor and Medical Officer of the Kirsten Springs Committee, and the other a Mayor of a town. The Mayor is cautious and very concerned abt his position n reputation in the town, while the Doctor is unrelenting in his conviction that the public has a right to speak. Conflict arose when this 2 ideas clashed.

Can anyone offer their views on perhaps the role of the media, the nature of the conflict or anything that you think is worth mentioning?

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    "An Enemy of the People" is a play written by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). He wrote it in a fit of pique, stating that his play, "The Ghosts", was heavily criticised only because it had challenged the hypocrisy of Victorian morality. It had been deemed indecent because of its veiled references to syphilis.

    He felt he was being "silenced" ... and from this grew the play portraying the crusading Dr Peter Stockman (who Ibsen modelled on himself).

    Basically, as described in your question, the two brothers clash over whether the spring baths should be banned until money is spent on making them safe to visitors. At first the townspeople and the local newspaper are 100% behind the doctor, but their support fades rapidly when they learn how much it will cost them in taxes to fix - and the town's loss of prosperity from visitors ... money taking preference over the health of people.

    In the end the doctor is declared mentally incompetent and his reputation is in tatters. From Ibsen's play comes the famous last words quotation:

    "...the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone."

    The play portrays one man's brave struggle to do the right thing, notwithstanding heavy social pressure to terminate his campaign.

    During the 1950's (the McCarthy era in the USA), Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible", which was about the witch hunts in Salem. He also adapted Ibsen's play to reflect what was going on in current politics. Like Ibsen, his emphasis was on one man standing alone against the crowd mentality.

    During the Cold War years it was well known that Russian dissidents who dared to stand alone against the might of the Communist State were declared mentally incompetent and committed for "psychiatric treatment" - thus rendering their works compromised.

    Hinting at the suspect mental health of a person to the press, to discredit them, continues in modern politics today.

    I've provided two links - one will give you the means to download the full text of the play for free, and the other will provide a study guide for you.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.