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An Enemy of the People
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Act II

(SCENE,—The same. The door into the dining room is shut. It is
morning. MRS. STOCKMANN, with a sealed letter in her hand, comes
in from the dining room, goes to the door of the DOCTOR'S study,
and peeps in.)
Mrs. Stockmann. Are you in, Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann (from within his room). Yes, I have just come in.
(Comes into the room.) What is it?
Mrs. Stockmann. A letter from your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. Aha, let us see! (Opens the letter and reads:) "I
return herewith the manuscript you sent me" (reads on in a low
murmur) H'm!—
Mrs. Stockmann. What does he say?
Dr. Stockmann (putting the papers in his pocket). Oh, he only
writes that he will come up here himself about midday.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, try and remember to be at home this time.
Dr. Stockmann. That will be all right; I have got through all my
morning visits.
Mrs. Stockmann. I am extremely curious to know how he takes it.
Dr. Stockmann. You will see he won't like it's having been I, and
not he, that made the discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. Aren't you a little nervous about that?
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, he really will be pleased enough, you know.
But, at the same time, Peter is so confoundedly afraid of
anyone's doing any service to the town except himself.
Mrs. Stockmann. I will tell you what, Thomas—you should be good
natured, and share the credit of this with him. Couldn't you make
out that it was he who set you on the scent of this discovery?
Dr. Stockmann. I am quite willing. If only I can get the thing
set right. I—
(MORTEN KIIL puts his head in through the door leading from the
hall, looks around in an enquiring manner, and chuckles.)
Morten Kiil (slyly). Is it—is it true?
Mrs. Stockmann (going to the door). Father!—is it you?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, Mr. Kiil—good morning, good morning!
Mrs. Stockmann. But come along in.
Morten Kiil. If it is true, I will; if not, I am off.
Dr. Stockmann. If what is true?
Morten Kiil. This tale about the water supply, is it true?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly it is true, but how did you come to hear
Morten Kid (coming in). Petra ran in on her way to the school—
Dr. Stockmann. Did she?
Morten Kiil. Yes; and she declares that—I thought she was only
making a fool of me—but it isn't like Petra to do that.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course not. How could you imagine such a thing!
Morten Kiil. Oh well, it is better never to trust anybody; you
may find you have been made a fool of before you know where you
are. But it is really true, all the same?
Dr. Stockmann. You can depend upon it that it is true. Won't you
sit down? (Settles him on the couch.) Isn't it a real bit of luck
for the town—
Morten Kiil (suppressing his laughter). A bit of luck for the
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that I made the discovery in good time.
Morten Kiil (as before). Yes, yes, Yes!—But I should never have
thought you the sort of man to pull your own brother's leg like
Dr. Stockmann. Pull his leg!
Mrs. Stockmann. Really, father dear—
Morten Kiil (resting his hands and his chin on the handle of his
stick and winking slyly at the DOCTOR). Let me see, what was the
story? Some kind of beast that had got into the water-pipes,
wasn't it?
Dr. Stockmann. Infusoria—yes.
Morten Kiil. And a lot of these beasts had got in, according to
Petra—a tremendous lot.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly; hundreds of thousands of them,
Morten Kiil. But no one can see them—isn't that so?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes; you can't see them,
Morten Kiil (with a quiet chuckle). Damn—it's the finest story
I have ever heard!
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?
Morten Kiil. But you will never get the Mayor to believe a thing
like that.
Dr. Stockmann. We shall see.
Morten Kiil. Do you think he will be fool enough to—?
Dr. Stockmann. I hope the whole town will be fools enough.
Morten Kiil. The whole town! Well, it wouldn't be a bad thing. It
would just serve them right, and teach them a lesson. They think
themselves so much cleverer than we old fellows. They hounded me
out of the council; they did, I tell you—they hounded me out.
Now they shall pay for it. You pull their legs too, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Really, I—
Morten Kiil. You pull their legs! (Gets up.) If you can work it
so that the Mayor and his friends all swallow the same bait, I
will give ten pounds to a charity—like a shot!
Dr. Stockmann. That is very kind of you.
Morten Kiil. Yes, I haven't got much money to throw away, I can
tell you; but, if you can work this, I will give five pounds to a
charity at Christmas.
(HOVSTAD comes in by the hall door.)
Hovstad. Good morning! (Stops.) Oh, I beg your pardon
Dr. Stockmann. Not at all; come in.
Morten Kiil (with another chuckle). Oho!—is he in this too?
Hovstad. What do you mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly he is.
Morten Kiil. I might have known it! It must get into the papers.
You know how to do it, Thomas! Set your wits to work. Now I must
Dr. Stockmann. Won't you stay a little while?
Morten Kiil. No, I must be off now. You keep up this game for all
it is worth; you won't repent it, I'm damned if you will!
(He goes out; MRS. STOCKMANN follows him into the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Just imagine—the old chap doesn't
believe a word of all this about the water supply.
Hovstad. Oh that was it, then?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that was what we were talking about. Perhaps
it is the same thing that brings you here?
Hovstad. Yes, it is, Can you spare me a few minutes, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. As long as you like, my dear fellow.
Hovstad. Have you heard from the Mayor yet?
Dr. Stockmann. Not yet. He is coming here later.
Hovstad. I have given the matter a great deal of thought since
last night.
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Hovstad. From your point of view, as a doctor and a man of
science, this affair of the water supply is an isolated matter. I
mean, you do not realise that it involves a great many other
Dr. Stockmann. How, do you mean?—Let us sit down, my dear
fellow. No, sit here on the couch. (HOVSTAD Sits down on the
couch, DR. STOCKMANN On a chair on the other side of the table.)
Now then. You mean that—?
Hovstad. You said yesterday that the pollution of the water was
due to impurities in the soil.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, unquestionably it is due to that poisonous
morass up at Molledal.
Hovstad. Begging your pardon, Doctor, I fancy it is due to quite
another morass altogether.
Dr. Stockmann. What morass?
Hovstad. The morass that the whole life of our town is built on
and is rotting in.
Dr. Stockmann. What the deuce are you driving at, Hovstad?
Hovstad. The whole of the town's interests have, little by
little, got into the hands of a pack of officials.
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, come!—they are not all officials.
Hovstad. No, but those that are not officials are at any rate the
officials' friends and adherents; it is the wealthy folk, the old
families in the town, that have got us entirely in their hands.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but after all they are men of ability and
Hovstad. Did they show any ability or knowledge when they laid
the conduit pipes where they are now?
Dr. Stockmann. No, of course that was a great piece of stupidity
on their part. But that is going to be set right now.
Hovstad. Do you think that will be all such plain sailing?
Dr., Stockmann. Plain sailing or no, it has got to be done,
Hovstad. Yes, provided the press takes up the question.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't think that will be necessary, my dear
fellow, I am certain my brother—
Hovstad. Excuse me, doctor; I feel bound to tell you I am
inclined to take the matter up.
Dr. Stockmann. In the paper?
Hovstad. Yes. When I took over the "People's Messenger" my idea
was to break up this ring of self-opinionated old fossils who had
got hold of all the influence.
Dr. Stockmann. But you know you told me yourself what the result
had been; you nearly ruined your paper.
Hovstad. Yes, at the time we were obliged to climb down a peg or
two, it is quite true—because there was a danger of the whole
project of the Baths coming to nothing if they failed us. But now
the scheme has been carried through, and we can dispense with
these grand gentlemen.
Dr. Stockmann. Dispense with them, yes; but, we owe them a great
debt of gratitude.
Hovstad. That shall be recognised ungrudgingly, But a journalist
of my democratic tendencies cannot let such an opportunity as
this slip. The bubble of official infallibility must be pricked.
This superstition must be destroyed, like any other.
Dr. Stockmann. I am whole-heartedly with you in that, Mr.
Hovstad; if it is a superstition, away with it!
Hovstad. I should be very reluctant to bring the Mayor into it,
because he is your brother. But I am sure you will agree with me
that truth should be the first consideration.
Dr. Stockmann. That goes without saying. (With sudden emphasis.)
Yes, but—but—
Hovstad. You must not misjudge me. I am neither more self-
interested nor more ambitious than most men.
Dr. Stockmann. My dear fellow—who suggests anything of the kind?
Hovstad. I am of humble origin, as you know; and that has given
me opportunities of knowing what is the most crying need in the
humbler ranks of life. It is that they should be allowed some
part in the direction of public affairs, Doctor. That is what
will develop their faculties and intelligence and self respect—
Dr. Stockmann. I quite appreciate that.
Hovstad. Yes—and in my opinion a journalist incurs a heavy
responsibility if he neglects a favourable opportunity of
emancipating the masses—the humble and oppressed. I know well
enough that in exalted circles I shall be called an agitator, and
all that sort of thing; but they may call what they like. If only
my conscience doesn't reproach me, then—
Dr. Stockmann. Quite right! Quite right, Mr. Hovstad. But all the
same—devil take it! (A knock is heard at the door.) Come in!
(ASLAKSEN appears at the door. He is poorly but decently dressed,
in black, with a slightly crumpled white neckcloth; he wears
gloves and has a felt hat in his hand.)
Aslaksen (bowing). Excuse my taking the liberty, Doctor—
Dr. Stockmann (getting up). Ah, it is you, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. Yes, Doctor.
Hovstad (standing up). Is it me you want, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. No; I didn't know I should find you here. No, it was
the Doctor I—
Dr. Stockmann. I am quite at your service. What is it?
Aslaksen. Is what I heard from Mr. Billing true, sir—that you
mean to improve our water supply?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, for the Baths.
Aslaksen. Quite so, I understand. Well, I have come to say that I
will back that up by every means in my power.
Hovstad (to the DOCTOR). You see!
Dr. Stockmann. I shall be very grateful to you, but—
Aslaksen. Because it may be no bad thing to have us small
tradesmen at your back. We form, as it were, a compact majority
in the town—if we choose. And it is always a good thing to have
the majority with you, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. That is undeniably true; but I confess I don't see
why such unusual precautions should be necessary in this case. It
seems to me that such a plain, straightforward thing.
Aslaksen. Oh, it may be very desirable, all the same. I know our
local authorities so well; officials are not generally very ready
to act on proposals that come from other people. That is why I
think it would not be at all amiss if we made a little
Hovstad. That's right.
Dr. Stockmann. Demonstration, did you say? What on earth are you
going to make a demonstration about?
Aslaksen. We shall proceed with the greatest moderation, Doctor.
Moderation is always my aim; it is the greatest virtue in a
citizen—at least, I think so.
Dr. Stockmann. It is well known to be a characteristic of yours,
Mr. Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. Yes, I think I may pride myself on that. And this
matter of the water supply is of the greatest importance to us
small tradesmen. The Baths promise to be a regular gold-mine for
the town. We shall all make our living out of them, especially
those of us who are householders. That is why we will back up the
project as strongly as possible. And as I am at present Chairman
of the Householders' Association.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes—?
Aslaksen. And, what is more, local secretary of the Temperance
Society—you know, sir, I suppose, that I am a worker in the
temperance cause?
Dr, Stockmann. Of course, of course.
Aslaksen. Well, you can understand that I come into contact with
a great many people. And as I have the reputation of a temperate
and law-abiding citizen—like yourself, Doctor—I have a certain
influence in the town, a little bit of power, if I may be allowed
to say so.
Dr. Stockmann. I know that quite well, Mr. Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. So you see it would be an easy matter for me to set on
foot some testimonial, if necessary.
Dr. Stockmann. A testimonial?
Aslaksen. Yes, some kind of an address of thanks from the
townsmen for your share in a matter of such importance to the
community. I need scarcely say that it would have to be drawn up
with the greatest regard to moderation, so as not to offend the
authorities—who, after all, have the reins in their hands. If we
pay strict attention to that, no one can take it amiss, I should
Hovstad. Well, and even supposing they didn't like it—
Aslaksen. No, no, no; there must be no discourtesy to the
authorities, Mr. Hovstad. It is no use falling foul of those upon
whom our welfare so closely depends. I have done that in my time,
and no good ever comes of it. But no one can take exception to a
reasonable and frank expression of a citizen's views.
Dr. Stockmann (shaking him by the hand). I can't tell you, dear
Mr. Aslaksen, how extremely pleased I am to find such hearty
support among my fellow-citizens. I am delighted—delighted! Now,
you will take a small glass of sherry, eh?
Aslaksen. No, thank you; I never drink alcohol of that kind.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, what do you say to a glass of beer, then?
Aslaksen. Nor that either, thank you, Doctor. I never drink
anything as early as this. I am going into town now to talk this
over with one or two householders, and prepare the ground.
Dr. Stockmann. It is tremendously kind of you, Mr. Aslaksen; but
I really cannot understand the necessity for all these
precautions. It seems to me that the thing should go of itself.
Aslaksen. The authorities are somewhat slow to move, Doctor. Far
be it from me to seem to blame them—
Hovstad. We are going to stir them up in the paper tomorrow,
Aslaksen. But not violently, I trust, Mr. Hovstad. Proceed with
moderation, or you will do nothing with them. You may take my
advice; I have gathered my experience in the school of life.
Well, I must say goodbye, Doctor. You know now that we small
tradesmen are at your back at all events, like a solid wall. You
have the compact majority on your side Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. I am very much obliged, dear Mr. Aslaksen, (Shakes
hands with him.) Goodbye, goodbye.
Aslaksen. Are you going my way, towards the printing-office. Mr.
Hovstad, I will come later; I have something to settle up first.
Aslaksen. Very well. (Bows and goes out; STOCKMANN follows him
into the hall.)
Hovstad (as STOCKMANN comes in again). Well, what do you think of
that, Doctor? Don't you think it is high time we stirred a little
life into all this slackness and vacillation and cowardice?
Dr. Stockmann. Are you referring to Aslaksen?
Hovstad, Yes, I am. He is one of those who are floundering in a
bog—decent enough fellow though he may be, otherwise. And most
of the people here are in just the same case—see-sawing and
edging first to one side and then to the other, so overcome with
caution and scruple that they never dare to take any decided
Dr. Stockmann, Yes, but Aslaksen seemed to me so thoroughly well-
Hovstad. There is one thing I esteem higher than that; and that
is for a man to be self-reliant and sure of himself.
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are perfectly right there.
Hovstad. That is why I want to seize this opportunity, and try if
I cannot manage to put a little virility into these well-
intentioned people for once. The idol of Authority must be
shattered in this town. This gross and inexcusable blunder about
the water supply must be brought home to the mind of every
municipal voter.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; if you are of opinion that it is for
the good of the community, so be it. But not until I have had a
talk with my brother.
Hovstad. Anyway, I will get a leading article ready; and if the
Mayor refuses to take the matter up—
Dr. Stockmann. How can you suppose such a thing possible!
Hovstad. It is conceivable. And in that case—
Dr. Stockmann. In that case I promise you—. Look here, in that
case you may print my report—every word of it.
Hovstad. May I? Have I your word for it?
Dr. Stockmann (giving him the MS.). Here it is; take it with you.
It can do no harm for you to read it through, and you can give it
me back later on.
Hovstad. Good, good! That is what I will do. And now goodbye,
Dr. Stockmann. Goodbye, goodbye. You will see everything will
run quite smoothly, Mr. Hovstad—quite smoothly.
Hovstad. Hm!—we shall see. (Bows and goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (opens the dining-room door and looks in).
Katherine! Oh, you are back, Petra?
Petra (coming in). Yes, I have just come from the school.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Has he not been here yet?
Dr. Stockmann. Peter? No, but I have had a long talk with
Hovstad. He is quite excited about my discovery, I find it has a
much wider bearing than I atfirst imagined. And he has put his
at my disposal if necessity should arise.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think it will?
Dr. Stockmann. Not for a moment. But at all events it makes me
feel proud to know that I have the liberal-minded independent
press on my side. Yes, and just imagine—I have had a visit from
the Chairman of the Householders' Association!
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! What did he want?
Dr. Stockmann. To offer me his support too. They will support me
in a body if it should be necessary. Katherine—do you know what
I have got behind me?
Mrs. Stockmann. Behind you? No, what have you got behind you?
Dr. Stockmann. The compact majority.
Mrs. Stockmann. Really? Is that a good thing for you Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann. I should think it was a good thing. (Walks up and
down rubbing his hands.) By Jove, it's a fine thing to feel this
bond of brotherhood between oneself and one's fellow citizens!
Petra. And to be able to do so much that is good and useful,
Dr. Stockmann. And for one's own native town into the bargain, my
Mrs. Stockmann. That was a ring at the bell.
Dr. Stockmann. It must be he, then. (A knock is heard at the
door.) Come in!
Peter Stockmann (comes in from the hall). Good morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Glad to see you, Peter!
Mrs. Stockmann. Good morning, Peter, How are you?
Peter Stockmann. So so, thank you. (To DR. STOCKMANN.) I received
from you yesterday, after office hours, a report dealing with the
condition of the water at the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Have you read it?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I have,
Dr. Stockmann. And what have you to say to it?
Peter Stockmann (with a sidelong glance). Hm!—
Mrs. Stockmann. Come along, Petra. (She and PETRA go into the
room on the left.)
Peter Stockmann (after a pause). Was it necessary to make all
these investigations behind my back?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, because until I was absolutely certain about
Peter Stockmann. Then you mean that you are absolutely certain
Dr. Stockmann. Surely you are convinced of that.
Peter Stockmann. Is it your intention to bring this document
before the Baths Committee as a sort of official communication?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly. Something must be done in the matter—
and that quickly.
Peter Stockmann. As usual, you employ violent expressions in your
report. You say, amongst other things, that what we offer
visitors in our Baths is a permanent supply of poison.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, can you describe it any other way, Peter?
Just think—water that is poisonous, whether you drink it or
in it! And this we offer to the poor sick folk who come to us
trustfully and pay us at an exorbitant rate to be made well
Peter Stockmann. And your reasoning leads you to this conclusion,
that we must build a sewer to draw off the alleged impurities
from Molledal and must relay the water conduits.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Do you see any other way out of it? I don't.
Peter Stockmann. I made a pretext this morning to go and see the
town engineer, and, as if only half seriously, broached the
subject of these proposals as a thing we might perhaps have to
take under consideration some time later on.
Dr. Stockmann. Some time later on!
Peter Stockmann. He smiled at what he considered to be my
extravagance, naturally. Have you taken the trouble to consider
what your proposed alterations would cost? According to the
information I obtained, the expenses would probably mount up to
fifteen or twenty thousand pounds.
Dr. Stockmann. Would it cost so much?
Peter Stockmann. Yes; and the worst part of it would be that the
work would take at least two years.
Dr. Stockmann. Two years? Two whole years?
Peter Stockmann. At least. And what are we to do with the Baths
in the meantime? Close them? Indeed we should be obliged to. And
do you suppose anyone would come near the place after it had got
out that the water was dangerous?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes but, Peter, that is what it is.
Peter Stockmann. And all this at this juncture—just as the Baths
are beginning to be known. There are other towns in the
neighbourhood with qualifications to attract visitors for bathing
purposes. Don't you suppose they would immediately strain every
nerve to divert the entire stream of strangers to themselves?
Unquestionably they would; and then where should we be? We should
probably have to abandon the whole thing, which has cost us so
much money-and then you would have ruined your native town.
Dr. Stockmann. I—should have ruined—!
Peter Stockmann. It is simply and solely through the Baths that
the town has before it any future worth mentioning. You know that
just as well as I.
Dr. Stockmann. But what do you think ought to be done, then?
Peter Stockmann. Your report has not convinced me that the
condition of the water at the Baths is as bad as you represent it
to be.
Dr. Stockmann. I tell you it is even worse!—or at all events it
will be in summer, when the warm weather comes.
Peter Stockmann. As I said, I believe you exaggerate the matter
considerably. A capable physician ought to know what measures to
take—he ought to be capable of preventing injurious influences
or of remedying them if they become obviously persistent.
Dr. Stockmann. Well? What more?
Peter Stockmann. The water supply for the Baths is now an
established fact, and in consequence must be treated as such. But
probably the Committee, at its discretion, will not be
disinclined to consider the question of how far it might be
possible to introduce certain improvements consistently with a
reasonable expenditure.
Dr. Stockmann. And do you suppose that I will have anything to do
with such a piece of trickery as that?
Peter Stockmann. Trickery!!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it would be a trick—a fraud, a lie, a
downright crime towards the public, towards the whole community!
Peter Stockmann. I have not, as I remarked before, been able to
convince myself that there is actually any imminent danger.
Dr. Stockmann. You have! It is impossible that you should not be
convinced. I know I have represented the facts absolutely
truthfully and fairly. And you know it very well, Peter, only you
won't acknowledge it. It was owing to your action that both the
Baths and the water conduits were built where they are; and that
is what you won't acknowledge—that damnable blunder of yours.
Pooh!—do you suppose I don't see through you?
Peter Stockmann. And even if that were true? If I perhaps guard
my reputation somewhat anxiously, it is in the interests of the
town. Without moral authority I am powerless to direct public
affairs as seems, to my judgment, to be best for the common good.
And on that account—and for various other reasons too—it
to me to be a matter of importance that your report should not be
delivered to the Committee. In the interests of the public, you
must withhold it. Then, later on, I will raise the question and
we will do our best, privately; but, nothing of this unfortunate
affair not a single word of it—must come to the ears of the
Dr. Stockmann. I am afraid you will not be able to prevent that
now, my dear Peter.
Peter Stockmann. It must and shall be prevented.
Dr. Stockmann. It is no use, I tell you. There are too many
people that know about it.
Peter Stockmann. That know about it? Who? Surely you don't mean
those fellows on the "People's Messenger"?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, they know. The liberal-minded independent
press is going to see that you do your duty.
Peter Stockmann (after a short pause). You are an extraordinarily
independent man, Thomas. Have you given no thought to the
consequences this may have for yourself?
Dr. Stockmann. Consequences?—for me?
Peter Stockmann. For you and yours, yes.
Dr. Stockmann. What the deuce do you mean?
Peter Stockmann. I believe I have always behaved in a brotherly
way to you—haven't I always been ready to oblige or to help you?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you have, and I am grateful to you for it.
Peter Stockmann. There is no need. Indeed, to some extent I was
forced to do so—for my own sake. I always hoped that, if I
helped to improve your financial position, I should be able to
keep some check on you,
Dr. Stockmann. What! Then it was only for your own sake—!
Peter Stockmann. Up to a certain point, yes. It is painful for a
man in an official position to have his nearest relative
compromising himself time after time.
Dr. Stockmann. And do you consider that I do that?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, unfortunately, you do, without even being
aware of it. You have a restless, pugnacious, rebellious
disposition. And then there is that disastrous propensity of
yours to want to write about every sort of possible and
impossible thing. The moment an idea comes into your head, you
must needs go and write a newspaper article or a whole pamphlet
about it.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but is it not the duty of a citizen to let
the public share in any new ideas he may have?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, the public doesn't require any new ideas.
The public is best served by the good, old established ideas it
already has.
Dr. Stockmann. And that is your honest opinion?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, and for once I must talk frankly to you.
Hitherto I have tried to avoid doing so, because I know how
irritable you are; but now I must tell you the truth, Thomas. You
have no conception what an amount of harm you do yourself by your
impetuosity. You complain of the authorities, you even complain
of the government—you are always pulling them to pieces; you
insist that you have been neglected and persecuted. But what else
can such a cantankerous man as you expect?
Dr. Stockmann. What next! Cantankerous, am I?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, Thomas, you are an extremely cantankerous
man to work with—I know that to my cost. You disregard
everything that you ought to have consideration for. You seem
completely to forget that it is me you have to thank for your
appointment here as medical officer to the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. I was entitled to it as a matter of course!—I and
nobody else! I was the first person to see that the town could be
made into a flourishing watering-place, and I was the only one
who saw it at that time. I had to fight single-handed in support
of the idea for many years; and I wrote and wrote—
Peter Stockmann. Undoubtedly. But things were not ripe for the
scheme then—though, of course, you could not judge of that in
your out-of-the-way corner up north. But as soon as the opportune
moment came I—and the others—took the matter into our hands
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and made this mess of all my beautiful plan.
It is pretty obvious now what clever fellows you were!
Peter Stockmann. To my mind the whole thing only seems to mean
that you are seeking another outlet for your combativeness. You
want to pick a quarrel with your superiors—an old habit of
yours. You cannot put up with any authority over you. You look
askance at anyone who occupies a superior official position; you
regard him as a personal enemy, and then any stick is good enough
to beat him with. But now I have called your attention to the
fact that the town's interests are at stake—and, incidentally,
my own too. And therefore, I must tell you, Thomas, that you will
find me inexorable with regard to what I am about to require you
to do.
Dr. Stockmann. And what is that?
Peter Stockmann. As you have been so indiscreet as to speak of
this delicate matter to outsiders, despite the fact that you
ought to have treated it as entirely official and confidential,
it is obviously impossible to hush it up now. All sorts of
rumours will get about directly, and everybody who has a grudge
against us will take care to embellish these rumours. So it will
be necessary for you to refute them publicly.
Dr. Stockmann. I! How? I don't understand.
Peter Stockmann. What we shall expect is that, after making
further investigations, you will come to the conclusion that the
matter is not by any means as dangerous or as critical as you
imagined in the first instance.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho!—so that is what you expect!
Peter Stockmann. And, what is more, we shall expect you to make
public profession of your confidence in the Committee and in
their readiness to consider fully and conscientiously what steps
may be necessary to remedy any possible defects.
Dr. Stockmann. But you will never be able to do that by patching
and tinkering at it—never! Take my word for it, Peter; I mean
what I say, as deliberately and emphatically as possible.
Peter Stockmann. As an officer under the Committee, you have no
right to any individual opinion.
Dr. Stockmann (amazed). No right?
Peter Stockmann. In your official capacity, no. As a private
person, it is quite another matter. But as a subordinate member
of the staff of the Baths, you have no right to express any
opinion which runs contrary to that of your superiors.
Dr. Stockmann. This is too much! I, a doctor, a man of science,
have no right to—!
Peter Stockmann. The matter in hand is not simply a scientific
one. It is a complicated matter, and has its economic as well as
its technical side.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't care what it is! I intend to be free to
express my opinion on any subject under the sun.
Peter Stockmann. As you please—but not on any subject concerning
the Baths. That we forbid.
Dr, Stockmann (shouting). You forbid—! You! A pack of—
Peter Stockmann. I forbid it—I, your chief; and if I forbid
it, you have to obey.
Dr. Stockmann (controlling himself). Peter—if you were not my
Petra (throwing open the door). Father, you shan't stand this!
Mrs, Stockmann (coming in after her). Petra, Petra!
Peter Stockmann. Oh, so you have been eavesdropping.
Mrs. Stockmann. You were talking so loud, we couldn't help it!
Petra. Yes, I was listening.
Peter Stockmann. Well, after all, I am very glad—
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). You were saying something about
forbidding and obeying?
Peter Stockmann. You obliged me to take that tone with you.
Dr. Stockmann. And so I am to give myself the lie, publicly?
Peter Stockmann. We consider it absolutely necessary that you
should make some such public statement as I have asked for.
Dr. Stockmann. And if I do not—obey?
Peter Stockmann. Then we shall publish a statement ourselves to
reassure the public.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; but in that case I shall use my pen
against you. I stick to what I have said; I will show that I am
right and that you are wrong. And what will you do then?
Peter Stockmann. Then I shall not be able to prevent your being
Dr. Stockmann. What—?
Petra. Father—dismissed!
Mrs. Stockmann. Dismissed!
Peter Stockmann. Dismissed from the staff of the Baths. I shall
be obliged to propose that you shall immediately be given notice,
and shall not be allowed any further participation in the Baths'
Dr. Stockmann. You would dare to do that!
Peter Stockmann. It is you that are playing the daring game.
Petra. Uncle, that is a shameful way to treat a man like father!
Mrs. Stockmann. Do hold your tongue, Petra!
Peter Stockmann (looking at PETRA). Oh, so we volunteer our
opinions already, do we? Of course. (To MRS. STOCKMANN.)
Katherine, I imagine you are the most sensible person in this
house. Use any influence you may have over your husband, and make
him see what this will entail for his family as well as—
Dr. Stockmann. My family is my own concern and nobody else's!
Peter Stockmann.—for his own family, as I was saying, as well
as for the town he lives in.
Dr. Stockmann. It is I who have the real good of the town at
heart! I want to lay bare the defects that sooner or later must
come to the light of day. I will show whether I love my native
Peter Stockmann. You, who in your blind obstinacy want to cut off
the most important source of the town's welfare?
Dr. Stockmann. The source is poisoned, man! Are you mad? We are
making our living by retailing filth and corruption! The whole of
our flourishing municipal life derives its sustenance from a lie!
Peter Stockmann. All imagination—or something even worse. The
man who can throw out such offensive insinuations about his
native town must be an enemy to our community.
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). Do you dare to—!
Mrs. Stockmann (throwing herself between them). Thomas!
Petra (catching her father by the arm). Don't lose your temper,
Peter Stockmann. I will not expose myself to violence. Now you
have had a warning; so reflect on what you owe to yourself and
your family. Goodbye. (Goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (walking up and down). Am I to put up with such
treatment as this? In my own house, Katherine! What do you think
of that!
Mrs. Stockmann. Indeed it is both shameful and absurd, Thomas—
Petra. If only I could give uncle a piece of my mind—
Dr. Stockmann. It is my own fault. I ought to have flown out at
him long ago!—shown my teeth!—bitten! To hear him call me an
enemy to our community! Me! I shall not take that lying down,
upon my soul!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, your brother has power on his
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but I have right on mine, I tell you.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh yes, right—right. What is the use of having
right on your side if you have not got might?
Petra. Oh, mother!—how can you say such a thing!
Dr. Stockmann. Do you imagine that in a free country it is no use
having right on your side? You are absurd, Katherine. Besides,
haven't I got the liberal-minded, independent press to lead the
way, and the compact majority behind me? That is might enough, I
should think!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, good heavens, Thomas, you don't mean to?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't mean to what?
Mrs. Stockmann. To set yourself up in opposition to your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. In God's name, what else do you suppose I should
do but take my stand on right and truth?
Petra. Yes, I was just going to say that.
Mrs. Stockmann. But it won't do you any earthly good. If they
won't do it, they won't.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho, Katherine! Just give me time, and you will
see how I will carry the war into their camp.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, you carry the war into their camp, and you
get your dismissal—that is what you will do.
Dr. Stockmann. In any case I shall have done my duty towards the
public—towards the community, I, who am called its enemy!
Mrs. Stockmann. But towards your family, Thomas? Towards your own
home! Do you think that is doing your duty towards those you have
to provide for?
Petra. Ah, don't think always first of us, mother.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, it is easy for you to talk; you are able to
shift for yourself, if need be. But remember the boys, Thomas;
and think a little of yourself too, and of me—
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are out of your senses, Katherine! If
I were to be such a miserable coward as to go on my knees to
Peter and his damned crew, do you suppose I should ever know an
hour's peace of mind all my life afterwards?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know anything about that; but God
preserve us from the peace of mind we shall have, all the same,
if you go on defying him! You will find yourself again without
the means of subsistence, with no income to count upon. I should
think we had had enough of that in the old days. Remember that,
Thomas; think what that means.
Dr. Stockmann (collecting himself with a struggle and clenching
his fists). And this is what this slavery can bring upon a free,
honourable man! Isn't it horrible, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, it is sinful to treat you so, it is
perfectly true. But, good heavens, one has to put up with so much
injustice in this world. There are the boys, Thomas! Look at
them! What is to become of them? Oh, no, no, you can never have
the heart—. (EJLIF and MORTEN have come in, while she was
speaking, with their school books in their hands.)
Dr. Stockmann. The boys—I (Recovers himself suddenly.) No, even
if the whole world goes to pieces, I will never bow my neck to
this yokel (Goes towards his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (following him). Thomas—what are you going to do!
Dr. Stockmann (at his door). I mean to have the right to look my
sons in the face when they are grown men. (Goes into his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (bursting into tears). God help us all!
Petra. Father is splendid! He will not give in.
(The boys look on in amazement; PETRA signs to them not to
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