An Enemy of the People
Part 2 out of 3
(SCENE.--The editorial office of the "People's Messenger." The
entrance door is on the left-hand side of the back wall; on the
right-hand side is another door with glass panels through which
the printing room can be seen. Another door in the right-hand
wall. In the middle of the room is a large table covered with
papers, newspapers and books. In the foreground on the left a
window, before which stands a desk and a high stool. There are a
couple of easy chairs by the table, and other chairs standing
along the wall. The room is dingy and uncomfortable; the
furniture is old, the chairs stained and torn. In the printing
room the compositors are seen at work, and a printer is working a
handpress. HOVSTAD is sitting at the desk, writing. BILLING
comes in from the right with DR. STOCKMANN'S manuscript in his
Billing. Well, I must say!
Hovstad (still writing). Have you read it through?
Billing (laying the MS. on the desk). Yes, indeed I have.
Hovstad. Don't you think the Doctor hits them pretty hard?
Billing. Hard? Bless my soul, he's crushing! Every word falls
like--how shall I put it?--like the blow of a sledgehammer.
Hovstad. Yes, but they are not the people to throw up the sponge
at the first blow.
Billing. That is true; and for that reason we must strike blow
upon blow until the whole of this aristocracy tumbles to pieces.
As I sat in there reading this, I almost seemed to see a
revolution in being.
Hovstad (turning round). Hush!--Speak so that Aslaksen cannot
Billing (lowering his voice). Aslaksen is a chicken-hearted chap,
a coward; there is nothing of the man in him. But this time you
will insist on your own way, won't you? You will put the Doctor's
Hovstad. Yes, and if the Mayor doesn't like it--
Billing. That will be the devil of a nuisance.
Hovstad. Well, fortunately we can turn the situation to good
account, whatever happens. If the Mayor will not fall in with the
Doctor's project, he will have all the small tradesmen down on
him--the whole of the Householders' Association and the rest of
them. And if he does fall in with it, he will fall out with the
whole crowd of large shareholders in the Baths, who up to now
have been his most valuable supporters--
Billing. Yes, because they will certainly have to fork out a
Hovstad. Yes, you may be sure they will. And in this way the ring
will be broken up, you see, and then in every issue of the paper
we will enlighten the public on the Mayor's incapability on one
point and another, and make it clear that all the positions of
trust in the town, the whole control of municipal affairs, ought
to be put in the hands of the Liberals.
Billing. That is perfectly true! I see it coming--I see it
coming; we are on the threshold of a revolution!
(A knock is heard at the door.)
Hovstad. Hush! (Calls out.) Come in! (DR. STOCKMANN comes in by
the street door. HOVSTAD goes to meet him.) Ah, it is you,
Dr. Stockmann. You may set to work and print it, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Has it come to that, then?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, print away. Undoubtedly it has come to that.
Now they must take what they get. There is going to be a fight in
the town, Mr. Billing!
Billing. War to the knife, I hope! We will get our knives to
their throats, Doctor!
Dr. Stockmann. This article is only a beginning. I have already
got four or five more sketched out in my head. Where is Aslaksen?
Billing (calls into the printing-room). Aslaksen, just come here
for a minute!
Hovstad. Four or five more articles, did you say? On the same
Dr. Stockmann. No--far from it, my dear fellow. No, they are
about quite another matter. But they all spring from the question
of the water supply and the drainage. One thing leads to another,
you know. It is like beginning to pull down an old house,
Billing. Upon my soul, it's true; you find you are not done till
you have pulled all the old rubbish down.
Aslaksen (coming in). Pulled down? You are not thinking of
pulling down the Baths surely, Doctor?
Hovstad. Far from it, don't be afraid.
Dr. Stockmann. No, we meant something quite different. Well, what
do you think of my article, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. I think it is simply a masterpiece.
Dr. Stockmann. Do you really think so? Well, I am very pleased,
Hovstad. It is so clear and intelligible. One need have no
special knowledge to understand the bearing of it. You will have
every enlightened man on your side.
Aslaksen. And every prudent man too, I hope?
Billing. The prudent and the imprudent--almost the whole town.
Aslaksen. In that case we may venture to print it.
Dr. Stockmann. I should think so!
Hovstad. We will put it in tomorrow morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course--you must not lose a single day. What I
wanted to ask you, Mr. Aslaksen, was if you would supervise the
printing of it yourself.
Aslaksen. With pleasure.
Dr. Stockmann. Take care of it as if it were a treasure! No
misprints--every word is important. I will look in again a little
later; perhaps you will be able to let me see a proof. I can't
tell you how eager I am to see it in print, and see it burst upon
Billing. Burst upon them--yes, like a flash of lightning!
Dr. Stockmann. --and to have it submitted to the judgment of my
intelligent fellow townsmen. You cannot imagine what I have gone
through today. I have been threatened first with one thing and
then with another; they have tried to rob me of my most
elementary rights as a man--
Billing. What! Your rights as a man!
Dr. Stockmann. --they have tried to degrade me, to make a coward
of me, to force me to put personal interests before my most
Billing. That is too much--I'm damned if it isn't.
Hovstad. Oh, you mustn't be surprised at anything from that
Dr. Stockmann. Well, they will get the worst of it with me; they
may assure themselves of that. I shall consider the "People's
Messenger" my sheet-anchor now, and every single day I will
bombard them with one article after another, like bombshells--
Aslaksen. Yes, but
Billing. Hurrah!--it is war, it is war!
Dr. Stockmann. I shall smite them to the ground--I shall crush
them--I shall break down all their defenses, before the eyes of
the honest public! That is what I shall do!
Aslaksen, Yes, but in moderation, Doctor--proceed with
Billing. Not a bit of it, not a bit of it! Don't spare the
Dr. Stockmann. Because it is not merely a question of water-
supply and drains now, you know. No--it is the whole of our
social life that we have got to purify and disinfect--
Billing. Spoken like a deliverer!
Dr. Stockmann. All the incapables must be turned out, you
understand--and that in every walk of life! Endless vistas have
opened themselves to my mind's eye today. I cannot see it all
quite clearly yet, but I shall in time. Young and vigorous
standard-bearers--those are what we need and must seek, my
friends; we must have new men in command at all our outposts.
Billing. Hear hear!
Dr. Stockmann. We only need to stand by one another, and it will
all be perfectly easy. The revolution will be launched like a
ship that runs smoothly off the stocks. Don't you think so?
Hovstad. For my part I think we have now a prospect of getting
the municipal authority into the hands where it should lie.
Aslaksen. And if only we proceed with moderation, I cannot
imagine that there will be any risk.
Dr. Stockmann. Who the devil cares whether there is any risk or
not! What I am doing, I am doing in the name of truth and for the
sake of my conscience.
Hovstad. You are a man who deserves to be supported, Doctor.
Aslaksen. Yes, there is no denying that the Doctor is a true
friend to the town--a real friend to the community, that he is.
Billing. Take my word for it, Aslaksen, Dr. Stockmann is a friend
of the people.
Aslaksen. I fancy the Householders' Association will make use of
that expression before long.
Dr. Stockmann (affected, grasps their hands). Thank you, thank
you, my dear staunch friends. It is very refreshing to me to hear
you say that; my brother called me something quite different. By
Jove, he shall have it back, with interest! But now I must be off
to see a poor devil--I will come back, as I said. Keep a very
careful eye on the manuscript, Aslaksen, and don't for worlds
leave out any of my notes of exclamation! Rather put one or two
more in! Capital, capital! Well, good-bye for the present--
(They show him to the door, and bow him out.)
Hovstad. He may prove an invaluably useful man to us.
Aslaksen. Yes, so long as he confines himself to this matter of
the Baths. But if he goes farther afield, I don't think it would
be advisable to follow him.
Hovstad. Hm!--that all depends-
Billing. You are so infernally timid, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. Timid? Yes, when it is a question of the local
authorities, I am timid, Mr. Billing; it is a lesson I have
learned in the school of experience, let me tell you. But try me
in higher politics, in matters that concern the government
itself, and then see if I am timid.
Billing. No, you aren't, I admit. But this is simply
Aslaksen. I am a man with a conscience, and that is the whole
matter. If you attack the government, you don't do the community
any harm, anyway; those fellows pay no attention to attacks, you
see--they go on just as they are, in spite of them. But local
authorities are different; they can be turned out, and then
perhaps you may get an ignorant lot into office who may do
irreparable harm to the householders and everybody else.
Hovstad. But what of the education of citizens by self
government--don't you attach any importance to that?
Aslaksen. When a man has interests of his own to protect, he
cannot think of everything, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Then I hope I shall never have interests of my own to
Billing. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen (with a smile). Hm! (Points to the desk.) Mr. Sheriff
Stensgaard was your predecessor at that editorial desk.
Billing (spitting). Bah! That turncoat.
Hovstad. I am not a weathercock--and never will be.
Aslaksen. A politician should never be too certain of anything,
Mr. Hovstad. And as for you, Mr. Billing, I should think it is
time for you to be taking in a reef or two in your sails, seeing
that you are applying for the post of secretary to the Bench.
Hovstad. Are you, Billing?
Billing. Well, yes--but you must clearly understand I am only
doing it to annoy the bigwigs.
Aslaksen. Anyhow, it is no business of mine. But if I am to be
accused of timidity and of inconsistency in my principles, this
is what I want to point out: my political past is an open book. I
have never changed, except perhaps to become a little more
moderate, you see. My heart is still with the people; but I don't
deny that my reason has a certain bias towards the authorities--
the local ones, I mean. (Goes into the printing room.)
Billing. Oughtn't we to try and get rid of him, Hovstad?
Hovstad. Do you know anyone else who will advance the money for
our paper and printing bill?
Billing. It is an infernal nuisance that we don't possess some
capital to trade on.
Hovstad (sitting down at his desk). Yes, if we only had that,
Billing. Suppose you were to apply to Dr. Stockmann?
Hovstad (turning over some papers). What is the use? He has got
Billing. No, but he has got a warm man in the background, old
Morten Kiil--"the Badger," as they call him.
Hovstad (writing). Are you so sure he has got anything?
Billing. Good Lord, of course he has! And some of it must come to
the Stockmanns. Most probably he will do something for the
children, at all events.
Hovstad (turning half round). Are you counting on that?
Billing. Counting on it? Of course I am not counting on anything.
Hovstad. That is right. And I should not count on the
secretaryship to the Bench either, if I were you; for I can
assure you--you won't get it.
Billing. Do you think I am not quite aware of that? My object is
precisely not to get it. A slight of that kind stimulates a man's
fighting power--it is like getting a supply of fresh bile--and I
am sure one needs that badly enough in a hole-and-corner place
like this, where it is so seldom anything happens to stir one up.
Hovstad (writing). Quite so, quite so.
Billing. Ah, I shall be heard of yet!--Now I shall go and write
the appeal to the Householders' Association. (Goes into the room
on the right.)
Hovstad (sitting al his desk, biting his penholder, says slowly).
Hm!--that's it, is it. (A knock is heard.) Come in! (PETRA comes
in by the outer door. HOVSTAD gets up.) What, you!--here?
Petra. Yes, you must forgive me--
Hovstad (pulling a chair forward). Won't you sit down?
Petra. No, thank you; I must go again in a moment.
Hovstad. Have you come with a message from your father, by any
Petra. No, I have come on my own account. (Takes a book out of
her coat pocket.) Here is the English story.
Hovstad. Why have you brought it back?
Petra. Because I am not going to translate it.
Hovstad. But you promised me faithfully.
Petra. Yes, but then I had not read it, I don't suppose you have
read it either?
Hovstad. No, you know quite well I don't understand English;
Petra. Quite so. That is why I wanted to tell you that you must
find something else. (Lays the book on the table.) You can't use
this for the "People's Messenger."
Hovstad. Why not?
Petra. Because it conflicts with all your opinions.
Hovstad. Oh, for that matter--
Petra. You don't understand me. The burden of this story is that
there is a supernatural power that looks after the so-called good
people in this world and makes everything happen for the best in
their case--while all the so-called bad people are punished.
Hovstad. Well, but that is all right. That is just what our
Petra. And are you going to be the one to give it to them? For
myself, I do not believe a word of it. You know quite well that
things do not happen so in reality.
Hovstad. You are perfectly right; but an editor cannot always act
as he would prefer. He is often obliged to bow to the wishes of
the public in unimportant matters. Politics are the most
important thing in life--for a newspaper, anyway; and if I want
to carry my public with me on the path that leads to liberty and
progress, I must not frighten them away. If they find a moral
tale of this sort in the serial at the bottom of the page, they
will be all the more ready to read what is printed above it; they
feel more secure, as it were.
Petra. For shame! You would never go and set a snare like that
for your readers; you are not a spider!
Hovstad (smiling). Thank you for having such a good opinion of
me. No; as a matter of fact that is Billing's idea and not mine.
Hovstad. Yes; anyway, he propounded that theory here one day. And
it is Billing who is so anxious to have that story in the paper;
I don't know anything about the book.
Petra. But how can Billing, with his emancipated views--
Hovstad. Oh, Billing is a many-sided man. He is applying for the
post of secretary to the Bench, too, I hear.
Petra. I don't believe it, Mr. Hovstad. How could he possibly
bring himself to do such a thing?
Hovstad. Ah, you must ask him that.
Petra. I should never have thought it of him.
Hovstad (looking more closely at her). No? Does it really
surprise you so much?
Petra. Yes. Or perhaps not altogether. Really, I don't quite know
Hovstad. We journalists are not much worth, Miss Stockmann.
Petra. Do you really mean that?
Hovstad. I think so sometimes.
Petra. Yes, in the ordinary affairs of everyday life, perhaps; I
can understand that. But now, when you have taken a weighty
matter in hand--
Hovstad. This matter of your father's, you mean?
Petra. Exactly. It seems to me that now you must feel you are a
man worth more than most.
Hovstad. Yes, today I do feel something of that sort.
Petra. Of course you do, don't you? It is a splendid vocation you
have chosen--to smooth the way for the march of unappreciated
truths, and new and courageous lines of thought. If it were
nothing more than because you stand fearlessly in the open and
take up the cause of an injured man--
Hovstad. Especially when that injured man is--ahem!--I don't
rightly know how to--
Petra. When that man is so upright and so honest, you mean?
Hovstad (more gently). Especially when he is your father I meant.
Petra (suddenly checked). That?
Hovstad. Yes, Petra--Miss Petra.
Petra. Is it that, that is first and foremost with you? Not the
matter itself? Not the truth?--not my father's big generous
Hovstad. Certainly--of course--that too.
Petra. No, thank you; you have betrayed yourself, Mr. Hovstad,
and now I shall never trust you again in anything.
Hovstad. Can you really take it so amiss in me that it is mostly
for your sake--?
Petra. What I am angry with you for, is for not having been
honest with my father. You talked to him as if the truth and the
good of the community were what lay nearest to your heart. You
have made fools of both my father and me. You are not the man you
made yourself out to be. And that I shall never forgive you-
Hovstad. You ought not to speak so bitterly, Miss Petra--least of
Petra. Why not now, especially?
Hovstad. Because your father cannot do without my help.
Petra (looking him up and down). Are you that sort of man too?
Hovstad. No, no, I am not. This came upon me so unexpectedly--you
must believe that.
Petra. I know what to believe. Goodbye.
Aslaksen (coming from the printing room, hurriedly and with an
air of mystery). Damnation, Hovstad!--(Sees PETRA.) Oh, this is
Petra. There is the book; you must give it to some one else.
(Goes towards the door.)
Hovstad (following her). But, Miss Stockmann--
Petra. Goodbye. (Goes out.)
Aslaksen. I say--Mr, Hovstad--
Hovstad. Well well!--what is it?
Aslaksen. The Mayor is outside in the printing room.
Hovstad. The Mayor, did you say?
Aslaksen. Yes he wants to speak to you. He came in by the back
door--didn't want to be seen, you understand.
Hovstad. What can he want? Wait a bit--I will go myself. (Goes to
the door of the printing room, opens it, bows and invites PETER
STOCKMANN in.) Just see, Aslaksen, that no one--
Aslaksen. Quite so. (Goes into the printing-room.)
Peter Stockmann. You did not expect to see me here, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. No, I confess I did not.
Peter Stockmann (looking round). You are very snug in here--very
Peter Stockmann. And here I come, without any notice, to take up
Hovstad. By all means, Mr. Mayor. I am at your service. But let
me relieve you of your--(takes STOCKMANN's hat and stick and puts
them on a chair). Won't you sit down?
Peter Stockmann (sitting down by the table). Thank you. (HOVSTAD
sits down.) I have had an extremely annoying experience to-day,
Hovstad. Really? Ah well, I expect with all the various business
you have to attend to--
Peter Stockmann. The Medical Officer of the Baths is responsible
for what happened today.
Hovstad. Indeed? The Doctor?
Peter Stockmann. He has addressed a kind of report to the Baths
Committee on the subject of certain supposed defects in the
Hovstad. Has he indeed?
Peter Stockmann. Yes--has he not told you? I thought he said--
Hovstad. Ah, yes--it is true he did mention something about--
Aslaksen (coming from the printing-room). I ought to have that
Hovstad (angrily). Ahem!--there it is on the desk.
Aslaksen (taking it). Right.
Peter Stockmann. But look there--that is the thing I was speaking
Aslaksen. Yes, that is the Doctor's article, Mr. Mayor.
Hovstad. Oh, is THAT what you were speaking about?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, that is it. What do you think of it?
Hovstad. Oh, I am only a layman--and I have only taken a very
cursory glance at it.
Peter Stockmann. But you are going to print it?
Hovstad. I cannot very well refuse a distinguished man.
Aslaksen. I have nothing to do with editing the paper, Mr.
Peter Stockmann. I understand.
Aslaksen. I merely print what is put into my hands.
Peter Stockmann. Quite so.
Aslaksen. And so I must-- (moves off towards the printing-room).
Peter Stockmann. No, but wait a moment, Mr. Aslaksen. You will
allow me, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. If you please, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. You are a discreet and thoughtful man, Mr.
Aslaksen. I am delighted to hear you think so, sir.
Peter Stockmann. And a man of very considerable influence.
Aslaksen. Chiefly among the small tradesmen, sir.
Peter Stockmann. The small tax-payers are the majority--here as
Aslaksen. That is true.
Peter Stockmann. And I have no doubt you know the general trend
of opinion among them, don't you?
Aslaksen. Yes I think I may say I do, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. Yes. Well, since there is such a praiseworthy
spirit of self-sacrifice among the less wealthy citizens of our
Peter Stockmann. It is pleasing evidence of a public-spirited
feeling, extremely pleasing evidence. I might almost say I hardly
expected it. But you have a closer knowledge of public opinion
Aslaksen. But, Mr. Mayor-
Peter Stockmann. And indeed it is no small sacrifice that the
town is going to make.
Hovstad. The town?
Aslaksen. But I don't understand. Is it the Baths--?
Peter Stockmann. At a provisional estimate, the alterations that
the Medical Officer asserts to be desirable will cost somewhere
about twenty thousand pounds.
Aslaksen. That is a lot of money, but--
Peter Stockmann. Of course it will be necessary to raise a
Hovstad (getting up). Surely you never mean that the town must
Aslaksen. Do you mean that it must come out of the municipal
funds?--out of the ill-filled pockets of the small tradesmen?
Peter Stockmann. Well, my dear Mr. Aslaksen, where else is the
money to come from?
Aslaksen. The gentlemen who own the Baths ought to provide that.
Peter Stockmann. The proprietors of the Baths are not in a
position to incur any further expense.
Aslaksen. Is that absolutely certain, Mr. Mayor?
Peter Stockmann. I have satisfied myself that it is so. If the
town wants these very extensive alterations, it will have to pay
Aslaksen. But, damn it all--I beg your pardon--this is quite
another matter, Mr, Hovstad!
Hovstad. It is, indeed.
Peter Stockmann. The most fatal part of it is that we shall be
obliged to shut the Baths for a couple of years.
Hovstad. Shut them? Shut them altogether?
Aslaksen. For two years?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, the work will take as long as that--at
Aslaksen. I'm damned if we will stand that, Mr. Mayor! What are
we householders to live upon in the meantime?
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately, that is an extremely difficult
question to answer, Mr. Aslaksen. But what would you have us do?
Do you suppose we shall have a single visitor in the town, if we
go about proclaiming that our water is polluted, that we are
living over a plague spot, that the entire town--
Aslaksen. And the whole thing is merely imagination?
Peter Stockmann. With the best will in the world, I have not been
able to come to any other conclusion.
Aslaksen. Well then I must say it is absolutely unjustifiable of
Dr. Stockmann--I beg your pardon, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann. What you say is lamentably true, Mr. Aslaksen.
My brother has unfortunately always been a headstrong man.
Aslaksen. After this, do you mean to give him your support, Mr.
Hovstad. Can you suppose for a moment that I--?
Peter Stockmann. I have drawn up a short resume of the situation
as it appears from a reasonable man's point of view. In it I have
indicated how certain possible defects might suitably be remedied
without outrunning the resources of the Baths Committee.
Hovstad. Have you got it with you, Mr. Mayor?
Peter Stockmann (fumbling in his pocket). Yes, I brought it with
me in case you should--
Aslaksen. Good Lord, there he is!
Peter Stockmann. Who? My brother?
Hovstad. Where? Where?
Aslaksen. He has just gone through the printing room.
Peter Stockmann. How unlucky! I don't want to meet him here, and
I had still several things to speak to you about.
Hovstad (pointing to the door on the right). Go in there for the
Peter Stockmann. But--?
Hovstad. You will only find Billing in there.
Aslaksen. Quick, quick, Mr. Mayor--he is just coming.
Peter Stockmann. Yes, very well; but see that you get rid of him
quickly. (Goes out through the door on the right, which ASLAKSEN
opens for him and shuts after him.)
Hovstad. Pretend to be doing something, Aslaksen. (Sits down and
writes. ASLAKSEN begins foraging among a heap of newspapers that
are lying on a chair.)
Dr. Stockmann (coming in from the printing room). Here I am
again. (Puts down his hat and stick.)
Hovstad (writing). Already, Doctor? Hurry up with what we were
speaking about, Aslaksen. We are very pressed for time today.
Dr. Stockmann (to ASLAKSEN). No proof for me to see yet, I hear.
Aslaksen (without turning round). You couldn't expect it yet,
Dr. Stockmann. No, no; but I am impatient, as you can understand.
I shall not know a moment's peace of mind until I see it in
Hovstad. Hm!--It will take a good while yet, won't it, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. Yes, I am almost afraid it will.
Dr. Stockmann. All right, my dear friends; I will come back. I do
not mind coming back twice if necessary. A matter of such great
importance--the welfare of the town at stake--it is no time to
shirk trouble, (is just going, but stops and comes back.) Look
here--there is one thing more I want to speak to you about.
Hovstad. Excuse me, but could it not wait till some other time?
Dr. Stockmann. I can tell you in half a dozen words. It is only
this. When my article is read tomorrow and it is realised that I
have been quietly working the whole winter for the welfare of the
Hovstad. Yes but, Doctor--
Dr. Stockmann. I know what you are going to say. You don't see
how on earth it was any more than my duty--my obvious duty as a
citizen. Of course it wasn't; I know that as well as you. But my
fellow citizens, you know--! Good Lord, think of all the good
souls who think so highly of me--!
Aslaksen. Yes, our townsfolk have had a very high opinion of you
so far, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and that is just why I am afraid they--.
Well, this is the point; when this reaches them, especially the
poorer classes, and sounds in their ears like a summons to take
the town's affairs into their own hands for the future...
Hovstad (getting up). Ahem I Doctor, I won't conceal from you the
Dr. Stockmann. Ah I--I knew there was something in the wind! But
I won't hear a word of it. If anything of that sort is being set
Hovstad. Of what sort?
Dr. Stockmann. Well, whatever it is--whether it is a
demonstration in my honour, or a banquet, or a subscription list
for some presentation to me--whatever it is, you most promise me
solemnly and faithfully to put a stop to it. You too, Mr.
Aslaksen; do you understand?
Hovstad. You must forgive me, Doctor, but sooner or later we must
tell you the plain truth--
(He is interrupted by the entrance Of MRS. STOCKMANN, who comes
in from the street door.)
Mrs. Stockmann (seeing her husband). Just as I thought!
Hovstad (going towards her). You too, Mrs. Stockmann?
Dr. Stockmann. What on earth do you want here, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. I should think you know very well what I want.
Hovstad, Won't you sit down? Or perhaps--
Mrs. Stockmann. No, thank you; don't trouble. And you must not be
offended at my coming to fetch my husband; I am the mother of
three children, you know.
Dr. Stockmann. Nonsense!--we know all about that.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, one would not give you credit for much
thought for your wife and children today; if you had had that,
you would not have gone and dragged us all into misfortune.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you out of your senses, Katherine! Because a
man has a wife and children, is he not to be allowed to proclaim
the truth-is he not to be allowed to be an actively useful
citizen--is he not to be allowed to do a service to his native
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, Thomas--in reason.
Aslaksen. Just what I say. Moderation in everything.
Mrs. Stockmann. And that is why you wrong us, Mr. Hovstad, in
enticing my husband away from his home and making a dupe of him
in all this.
Hovstad. I certainly am making a dupe of no one--
Dr. Stockmann. Making a dupe of me! Do you suppose I should allow
myself to be duped!
Mrs. Stockmann. It is just what you do. I know quite well you
have more brains than anyone in the town, but you are extremely
easily duped, Thomas. (To Hovstad.) Please do realise that he
loses his post at the Baths if you print what he has written.
Hovstad. Look here, Doctor!
Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Ha-ha!--just let them try! No, no--they
will take good care not to. I have got the compact majority
behind me, let me tell you!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is just the worst of it--your having
any such horrid thing behind you.
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish, Katherine!--Go home and look after your
house and leave me to look after the community. How can you be so
afraid, when I am so confident and happy? (Walks up and down,
rubbing his hands.) Truth and the People will win the fight, you
may be certain! I see the whole of the broad-minded middle class
marching like a victorious army--! (Stops beside a chair.) What
the deuce is that lying there?
Aslaksen Good Lord!
Dr. Stockmann. Here we have the topmost pinnacle of authority!
(Takes the Mayor's official hat carefully between his finger-tips
and holds it up in the air.)
Mrs. Stockmann. The Mayor's hat!
Dr. Stockmann. And here is the staff of office too. How in the
name of all that's wonderful--?
Hovstad. Well, you see--
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I understand. He has been here trying to talk
you over. Ha-ha!--he made rather a mistake there! And as soon as
he caught sight of me in the printing room. (Bursts out
laughing.) Did he run away, Mr. Aslaksen?
Aslaksen (hurriedly). Yes, he ran away, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Ran away without his stick or his--. Fiddlesticks!
Peter doesn't run away and leave his belongings behind him. But
what the deuce have you done with him? Ah!--in there, of course.
Now you shall see, Katherine!
Mrs. Stockmann. Thomas--please don't--!
Aslaksen. Don't be rash, Doctor.
(DR. STOCKMANN has put on the Mayor's hat and taken his stick in
his hand. He goes up to the door, opens it, and stands with his
hand to his hat at the salute. PETER STOCKMANN comes in, red with
anger. BILLING follows him.)
Peter Stockmann. What does this tomfoolery mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Be respectful, my good Peter. I am the chief
authority in the town now. (Walks up and down.)
Mrs. Stockmann (almost in tears). Really, Thomas!
Peter Stockmann (following him about). Give me my hat and stick.
Dr. Stockmann (in the same tone as before). If you are chief
constable, let me tell you that I am the Mayor--I am the master
of the whole town, please understand!
Peter Stockmann. Take off my hat, I tell you. Remember it is part
of an official uniform.
Dr. Stockmann. Pooh! Do you think the newly awakened lionhearted
people are going to be frightened by an official hat? There is
going to be a revolution in the town tomorrow, let me tell you.
You thought you could turn me out; but now I shall turn you out--
turn you out of all your various offices. Do you think I cannot?
Listen to me. I have triumphant social forces behind me. Hovstad
and Billing will thunder in the "People's Messenger," and
Aslaksen will take the field at the head of the whole
Aslaksen. That I won't, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course you will--
Peter Stockmann. Ah!--may I ask then if Mr. Hovstad intends to
join this agitation?
Hovstad. No, Mr. Mayor.
Aslaksen. No, Mr. Hovstad is not such a fool as to go and ruin
his paper and himself for the sake of an imaginary grievance.
Dr. Stockmann (looking round him). What does this mean?
Hovstad. You have represented your case in a false light, Doctor,
and therefore I am unable to give you my support.
Billing. And after what the Mayor was so kind as to tell me just
Dr. Stockmann. A false light! Leave that part of it to me. Only
print my article; I am quite capable of defending it.
Hovstad. I am not going to print it. I cannot and will not and
dare not print it.
Dr. Stockmann. You dare not? What nonsense!--you are the editor;
and an editor controls his paper, I suppose!
Aslaksen. No, it is the subscribers, Doctor.
Peter Stockmann. Fortunately, yes.
Aslaksen. It is public opinion--the enlightened public--
householders and people of that kind; they control the
Dr. Stockmann (composedly). And I have all these influences
Aslaksen. Yes, you have. It would mean the absolute ruin of the
community if your article were to appear.
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed.
Peter Stockmann. My hat and stick, if you please. (DR. STOCKMANN
takes off the hat and lays it on the table with the stick. PETER
STOCKMANN takes them up.) Your authority as mayor has come to an
Dr. Stockmann. We have not got to the end yet. (To HOVSTAD.) Then
it is quite impossible for you to print my article in the
Hovstad. Quite impossible--out of regard for your family as well.
Mrs. Stockmann. You need not concern yourself about his family,
thank you, Mr. Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann (taking a paper from his pocket). It will be
sufficient, for the guidance of the public, if this appears. It
is an official statement. May I trouble you?
Hovstad (taking the paper). Certainly; I will see that it is
Dr. Stockmann. But not mine. Do you imagine that you can silence
me and stifle the truth! You will not find it so easy as you
suppose. Mr. Aslaksen, kindly take my manuscript at once and
print it as a pamphlet--at my expense. I will have four hundred
copies--no, five or six hundred.
Aslaksen. If you offered me its weight in gold, I could not lend
my press for any such purpose, Doctor. It would be flying in the
face of public opinion. You will not get it printed anywhere in
Dr. Stockmann. Then give it me back.
Hovstad (giving him the MS.). Here it is.
Dr. Stockmann (taking his hat and stick). It shall be made public
all the same. I will read it out at a mass meeting of the
townspeople. All my fellow-citizens shall hear the voice of
Peter Stockmann. You will not find any public body in the town
that will give you the use of their hall for such a purpose.
Aslaksen. Not a single one, I am certain.
Billing. No, I'm damned if you will find one.
Mrs. Stockmann. But this is too shameful! Why should every one
turn against you like that?
Dr. Stockmann (angrily). I will tell you why. It is because all
the men in this town are old women--like you; they all think of
nothing but their families, and never of the community.
Mrs. Stockmann (putting her arm into his). Then I will show them
that an old woman can be a man for once. I am going to stand
by you, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Bravely said, Katherine! It shall be made public--
as I am a living soul! If I can't hire a hall, I shall hire a
drum, and parade the town with it and read it at every street-
Peter Stockmann. You are surely not such an errant fool as that!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I am.
Aslaksen. You won't find a single man in the whole town to go
Billing. No, I'm damned if you will.
Mrs. Stockmann. Don't give in, Thomas. I will tell the boys to go
Dr. Stockmann. That is a splendid idea!
Mrs. Stockmann. Morten will be delighted; and Ejlif will do
whatever he does.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and Petra!--and you too, Katherine!
Mrs. Stockmann. No, I won't do that; but I will stand at the
window and watch you, that's what I will do.
Dr. Stockmann (puts his arms round her and kisses her). Thank
you, my dear! Now you and I are going to try a fall, my fine
gentlemen! I am going to see whether a pack of cowards can
succeed in gagging a patriot who wants to purify society! (He and
his wife go out by the street door.)
Peter Stockmann (shaking his head seriously). Now he has sent her
out of her senses, too.
(SCENE.--A big old-fashioned room in CAPTAIN HORSTER'S house. At
the back folding-doors, which are standing open, lead to an ante-
room. Three windows in the left-hand wall. In the middle of the
opposite wall a platform has been erected. On this is a small
table with two candles, a water-bottle and glass, and a bell. The
room is lit by lamps placed between the windows. In the
foreground on the left there is a table with candles and a chair.
To the right is a door and some chairs standing near it. The room
is nearly filled with a crowd of townspeople of all sorts, a few
women and schoolboys being amongst them. People are still
streaming in from the back, and the room is soon filled.)
1st Citizen (meeting another). Hullo, Lamstad! You here too?
2nd Citizen. I go to every public meeting, I do.
3rd Citizen. Brought your whistle too, I expect!
2nd Citizen. I should think so. Haven't you?
3rd Citizen. Rather! And old Evensen said he was going to bring a
cow-horn, he did.
2nd Citizen. Good old Evensen! (Laughter among the crowd.)
4th Citizen (coming up to them). I say, tell me what is going on
2nd Citizen. Dr. Stockmann is going to deliver an address
attacking the Mayor.
4th Citizen. But the Mayor is his brother.
1st Citizen. That doesn't matter; Dr. Stockmann's not the chap to
Peter Stockmann. For various reasons, which you will easily
understand, I must beg to be excused. But fortunately we have
amongst us a man who I think will be acceptable to you all. I
refer to the President of the Householders' Association, Mr.
Several voices. Yes--Aslaksen! Bravo Aslaksen!
(DR. STOCKMANN takes up his MS. and walks up and down the
Aslaksen. Since my fellow-citizens choose to entrust me with this
duty, I cannot refuse.
(Loud applause. ASLAKSEN mounts the platform.)
Billing (writing), "Mr. Aslaksen was elected with enthusiasm."
Aslaksen. And now, as I am in this position, I should like to say
a few brief words. I am a quiet and peaceable man, who believes
in discreet moderation, and--and--in moderate discretion. All my
friends can bear witness to that.
Several Voices. That's right! That's right, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. I have learned in the school of life and experience that
moderation is the most valuable virtue a citizen can possess--
Peter Stockmann. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen. --And moreover, that discretion and moderation are what
enable a man to be of most service to the community. I would
therefore suggest to our esteemed fellow-citizen, who has called
this meeting, that he should strive to keep strictly within the
bounds of moderation.
A Man by the door. Three cheers for the Moderation Society!
A Voice. Shame!
Several Voices. Sh!-Sh!
Aslaksen. No interruptions, gentlemen, please! Does anyone wish
to make any remarks?
Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman.
Aslaksen. The Mayor will address the meeting.
Peter Stockmann. In consideration of the close relationship in
which, as you all know, I stand to the present Medical Officer of
the Baths, I should have preferred not to speak this evening. But
my official position with regard to the Baths and my solicitude
for the vital interests of the town compel me to bring forward a
motion. I venture to presume that there is not a single one of
our citizens present who considers it desirable that unreliable
and exaggerated accounts of the sanitary condition of the Baths
and the town should be spread abroad.
Several Voices. No, no! Certainly not! We protest against it!
Peter Stockmann. Therefore, I should like to propose that the
meeting should not permit the Medical Officer either to read or
to comment on his proposed lecture.
Dr. Stockmann (impatiently). Not permit--! What the devil--!
Mrs. Stockmann (coughing). Ahem!-ahem!
Dr. Stockmann (collecting himself). Very well, Go ahead!
Peter Stockmann. In my communication to the "People's Messenger,"
I have put the essential facts before the public in such a way
that every fair-minded citizen can easily form his own opinion.
From it you will see that the main result of the Medical
Officer's proposals--apart from their constituting a vote of
censure on the leading men of the town--would be to saddle the
ratepayers with an unnecessary expenditure of at least some
thousands of pounds.
(Sounds of disapproval among the audience, and some cat-calls.)
Aslaksen (ringing his bell). Silence, please, gentlemen! I beg to
support the Mayor's motion. I quite agree with him that there is
something behind this agitation started by the Doctor. He talks
about the Baths; but it is a revolution he is aiming at--he wants
to get the administration of the town put into new hands. No one
doubts the honesty of the Doctor's intentions--no one will suggest
that there can be any two opinions as to that, I myself am a
believer in self-government for the people, provided it does not
fall too heavily on the ratepayers. But that would be the case
here; and that is why I will see Dr. Stockmann damned--I beg your
pardon--before I go with him in the matter. You can pay too
dearly for a thing sometimes; that is my opinion.
(Loud applause on all sides.)
Hovstad. I, too, feel called upon to explain my position. Dr.
Stockmann's agitation appeared to be gaining a certain amount of
sympathy at first, so I supported it as impartially as I could.
But presently we had reason to suspect that we had allowed
ourselves to be misled by misrepresentation of the state of
Dr. Stockmann. Misrepresentation--!
Hovstad. Well, let us say a not entirely trustworthy
representation. The Mayor's statement has proved that. I hope no
one here has any doubt as to my liberal principles; the attitude
of the "People's Messenger" towards important political questions
is well known to everyone. But the advice of experienced and
thoughtful men has convinced me that in purely local matters a
newspaper ought to proceed with a certain caution.
Aslaksen. I entirely agree with the speaker.
Hovstad. And, in the matter before us, it is now an undoubted
fact that Dr. Stockmann has public opinion against him. Now, what
is an editor's first and most obvious duty, gentlemen? Is it not
to work in harmony with his readers? Has he not received a sort
of tacit mandate to work persistently and assiduously for the
welfare of those whose opinions he represents? Or is it possible
I am mistaken in that?
Voices from the crowd. No, no! You are quite right!
Hovstad. It has cost me a severe struggle to break with a man in
whose house I have been lately a frequent guest--a man who till
today has been able to pride himself on the undivided goodwill
of his fellow-citizens--a man whose only, or at all events whose
essential, failing is that he is swayed by his heart rather than
A few scattered voices. That is true! Bravo, Stockmann!
Hovstad. But my duty to the community obliged me to break with
him. And there is another consideration that impels me to oppose
him, and, as far as possible, to arrest him on the perilous
course he has adopted; that is, consideration for his family--
Dr. Stockmann. Please stick to the water-supply and drainage!
Hovstad. --consideration, I repeat, for his wife and his children
for whom he has made no provision.
Morten. Is that us, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. Hush!
Aslaksen. I will now put the Mayor's proposition to the vote.
Dr. Stockmann. There is no necessity! Tonight I have no
intention of dealing with all that filth down at the Baths. No; I
have something quite different to say to you.
Peter Stockmann (aside). What is coming now?
A Drunken Man (by the entrance door). I am a ratepayer! And
therefore, I have a right to speak too! And my entire--firm--
inconceivable opinion is--
A number of voices. Be quiet, at the back there!
Others. He is drunk! Turn him out! (They turn him out.)
Dr. Stockmann. Am I allowed to speak?
Aslaksen (ringing his bell). Dr. Stockmann will address the
Dr. Stockmann. I should like to have seen anyone, a few days ago,
dare to attempt to silence me as has been done tonight! I would
have defended my sacred rights as a man, like a lion! But now it
is all one to me; I have something of even weightier importance
to say to you. (The crowd presses nearer to him, MORTEN Kiil
conspicuous among them.)
Dr. Stockmann (continuing). I have thought and pondered a great
deal, these last few days--pondered over such a variety of things
that in the end my head seemed too full to hold them--
Peter Stockmann (with a cough). Ahem!
Dr. Stockmann. --but I got them clear in my mind at last, and
then I saw the whole situation lucidly. And that is why I am
standing here to-night. I have a great revelation to make to you,
my fellow-citizens! I will impart to you a discovery of a far
wider scope than the trifling matter that our water supply is
poisoned and our medicinal Baths are standing on pestiferous
A number of voices (shouting). Don't talk about the Baths! We
won't hear you! None of that!
Dr. Stockmann. I have already told you that what I want to speak
about is the great discovery I have made lately--the discovery
that all the sources of our moral life are poisoned and that the
whole fabric of our civic community is founded on the pestiferous
soil of falsehood.
Voices of disconcerted Citizens. What is that he says?
Peter Stockmann. Such an insinuation--!
Aslaksen (with his hand on his bell). I call upon the speaker to
moderate his language.
Dr. Stockmann. I have always loved my native town as a man only
can love the home of his youthful days. I was not old when I went
away from here; and exile, longing and memories cast as it were
an additional halo over both the town and its inhabitants. (Some
clapping and applause.) And there I stayed, for many years, in a
horrible hole far away up north. When I came into contact with
some of the people that lived scattered about among the rocks, I
often thought it would of been more service to the poor half-
starved creatures if a veterinary doctor had been sent up there,
instead of a man like me. (Murmurs among the crowd.)
Billing (laying down his pen). I'm damned if I have ever heard--!
Hovstad. It is an insult to a respectable population!
Dr. Stockmann. Wait a bit! I do not think anyone will charge me
with having forgotten my native town up there. I was like one of
the cider-ducks brooding on its nest, and what I hatched was the
plans for these Baths. (Applause and protests.) And then when
fate at last decreed for me the great happiness of coming home
again--I assure you, gentlemen, I thought I had nothing more in
the world to wish for. Or rather, there was one thing I wished
for--eagerly, untiringly, ardently--and that was to be able to be
of service to my native town and the good of the community.
Peter Stockmann (looking at the ceiling). You chose a strange way
of doing it--ahem!
Dr. Stockmann. And so, with my eyes blinded to the real facts, I
revelled in happiness. But yesterday morning--no, to be precise,
it was yesterday afternoon--the eyes of my mind were opened wide,
and the first thing I realised was the colossal stupidity of the
authorities--. (Uproar, shouts and laughter, MRS. STOCKMANN
Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman!
Aslaksen (ringing his bell). By virtue of my authority--!
Dr. Stockmann. It is a petty thing to catch me up on a word, Mr.
Aslaksen. What I mean is only that I got scent of the
unbelievable piggishness our leading men had been responsible for
down at the Baths. I can't stand leading men at any price!--I
have had enough of such people in my time. They are like billy-
goats on a young plantation; they do mischief everywhere. They
stand in a free man's way, whichever way he turns, and what I
should like best would be to see them exterminated like any other
Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman, can we allow such expressions to
Aslaksen (with his hand on his bell). Doctor--!
Dr. Stockmann. I cannot understand how it is that I have only now
acquired a clear conception of what these gentry are, when I had
almost daily before my eyes in this town such an excellent
specimen of them--my brother Peter--slow-witted and hide-bound in
prejudice--. (Laughter, uproar and hisses. MRS. STOCKMANN Sits
coughing assiduously. ASLAKSEN rings his bell violently.)
The Drunken Man (who has got in again). Is it me he is talking
about? My name's Petersen, all right--but devil take me if I--
Angry Voices. Turn out that drunken man! Turn him out. (He is
turned out again.)
Peter Stockmann. Who was that person?
1st Citizen. I don't know who he is, Mr. Mayor.
2nd Citizen. He doesn't belong here.
3rd Citizen. I expect he is a navvy from over at--(the rest is
Aslaksen. He had obviously had too much beer. Proceed, Doctor;
but please strive to be moderate in your language.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well, gentlemen, I will say no more about our
leading men. And if anyone imagines, from what I have just said,
that my object is to attack these people this evening, he is
wrong--absolutely wide of the mark. For I cherish the comforting
conviction that these parasites--all these venerable relics of a
dying school of thought--are most admirably paving the way for
their own extinction; they need no doctor's help to hasten their
end. Nor is it folk of that kind who constitute the most pressing
danger to the community. It is not they who are most instrumental
in poisoning the sources of our moral life and infecting the
ground on which we stand. It is not they who are the most
dangerous enemies of truth and freedom amongst us.
Shouts from all sides. Who then? Who is it? Name! Name!
Dr. Stockmann. You may depend upon it--I shall name them! That is
precisely the great discovery I made yesterday. (Raises his
voice.) The most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us
is the compact majority--yes, the damned compact Liberal
majority--that is it! Now you know! (Tremendous uproar. Most of
the crowd are shouting, stamping and hissing. Some of the older
men among them exchange stolen glances and seem to be enjoying
themselves. MRS. STOCKMANN gets up, looking anxious. EJLIF and
MORTEN advance threateningly upon some schoolboys who are playing
pranks. ASLAKSEN rings his bell and begs for silence. HOVSTAD and
BILLING both talk at once, but are inaudible. At last quiet is
Aslaksen. As Chairman, I call upon the speaker to withdraw the
ill-considered expressions he has just used.
Dr. Stockmann. Never, Mr. Aslaksen! It is the majority in our
community that denies me my freedom and seeks to prevent my
speaking the truth.
Hovstad. The majority always has right on its side.
Billing. And truth too, by God!
Dr. Stockmann. The majority never has right on its side. Never, I
say! That is one of these social lies against which an
independent, intelligent man must wage war. Who is it that
constitute the majority of the population in a country? Is it the
clever folk, or the stupid? I don't imagine you will dispute the
fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely
overwhelming majority all the world over. But, good Lord!--you
can never pretend that it is right that the stupid folk should
govern the clever ones I (Uproar and cries.) Oh, yes--you can
shout me down, I know! But you cannot answer me. The majority has
might on its side--unfortunately; but right it has not. I am in
the right--I and a few other scattered individuals. The minority
is always in the right. (Renewed uproar.)
Hovstad. Aha!--so Dr. Stockmann has become an aristocrat since
the day before yesterday!
Dr. Stockmann. I have already said that I don't intend to waste a
word on the puny, narrow-chested, short-winded crew whom we are
leaving astern. Pulsating life no longer concerns itself with
them. I am thinking of the few, the scattered few amongst us, who
have absorbed new and vigorous truths. Such men stand, as it
were, at the outposts, so far ahead that the compact majority has
not yet been able to come up with them; and there they are
fighting for truths that are too newly-born into the world of
consciousness to have any considerable number of people on their
side as yet.
Hovstad. So the Doctor is a revolutionary now!
Dr. Stockmann. Good heavens--of course I am, Mr. Hovstad! I
propose to raise a revolution against the lie that the majority
has the monopoly of the truth. What sort of truths are they that
the majority usually supports? They are truths that are of such
advanced age that they are beginning to break up. And if a truth
is as old as that, it is also in a fair way to become a lie,
gentlemen. (Laughter and mocking cries.) Yes, believe me or not,
as you like; but truths are by no means as long-lived at
Methuselah--as some folk imagine. A normally constituted truth
lives, let us say, as a rule seventeen or eighteen, or at most
twenty years--seldom longer. But truths as aged as that are
always worn frightfully thin, and nevertheless it is only then
that the majority recognises them and recommends them to the
community as wholesome moral nourishment. There is no great
nutritive value in that sort of fare, I can assure you; and, as a
doctor, I ought to know. These "majority truths" are like last
year's cured meat--like rancid, tainted ham; and they are the
origin of the moral scurvy that is rampant in our communities.
Aslaksen. It appears to me that the speaker is wandering a long
way from his subject.
Peter Stockmann. I quite agree with the Chairman.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you gone clean out of your senses, Peter? I
am sticking as closely to my subject as I can; for my subject is
precisely this, that it is the masses, the majority--this
infernal compact majority--that poisons the sources of our moral
life and infects the ground we stand on.
Hovstad. And all this because the great, broadminded majority of
the people is prudent enough to show deference only to well-
ascertained and well-approved truths?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, my good Mr. Hovstad, don't talk nonsense about
well-ascertained truths! The truths of which the masses now
approve are the very truths that the fighters at the outposts
held to in the days of our grandfathers. We fighters at the
outposts nowadays no longer approve of them; and I do not believe
there is any other well-ascertained truth except this, that no
community can live a healthy life if it is nourished only on such
old marrowless truths.
Hovstad. But, instead of standing there using vague generalities,
it would be interesting if you would tell us what these old
marrowless truths are, that we are nourished on.
(Applause from many quarters.)
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I could give you a whole string of such
abominations; but to begin with I will confine myself to one
well-approved truth, which at bottom is a foul lie, but upon
which nevertheless Mr. Hovstad and the "People's Messenger" and
all the "Messenger's" supporters are nourished.
Hovstad. And that is--?
Dr. Stockmann. That is, the doctrine you have inherited from your
forefathers and proclaim thoughtlessly far and wide--the doctrine
that the public, the crowd, the masses, are the essential part of
the population--that they constitute the People--that the common
folk, the ignorant and incomplete element in the community, have
the same right to pronounce judgment and to, approve, to direct
and to govern, as the isolated, intellectually superior
personalities in it.
Billing. Well, damn me if ever I--
Hovstad (at the same time, shouting out). Fellow-citizens, take
good note of that!
A number of voices (angrily). Oho!--we are not the People! Only
the superior folk are to govern, are they!
A Workman. Turn the fellow out for talking such rubbish!
Another. Out with him!
Another (calling out). Blow your horn, Evensen!
(A horn is blown loudly, amidst hisses and an angry uproar.)
Dr. Stockmann (when the noise has somewhat abated). Be
reasonable! Can't you stand hearing the voice of truth for once?
I don't in the least expect you to agree with me all at once; but
I must say I did expect Mr. Hovstad to admit I was right, when he
had recovered his composure a little. He claims to be a
Voices (in murmurs of astonishment). Freethinker, did he say? Is
Hovstad a freethinker?
Hovstad (shouting). Prove it, Dr. Stockmann! When have I said so
Dr. Stockmann (reflecting). No, confound it, you are right!--you
have never had the courage to. Well, I won't put you in a hole,
Mr. Hovstad. Let us say it is I that am the freethinker, then. I
am going to prove to you, scientifically, that the "People's
Messenger" leads you by the nose in a shameful manner when it
tells you that you--that the common people, the crowd, the
masses, are the real essence of the People. That is only a
newspaper lie, I tell you! The common people are nothing more
than the raw material of which a People is made. (Groans,
laughter and uproar.) Well, isn't that the case? Isn't there an
enormous difference between a well-bred and an ill-bred strain of
animals? Take, for instance, a common barn-door hen. What sort of
eating do you get from a shrivelled up old scrag of a fowl like
that? Not much, do you! And what sort of eggs does it lay? A
fairly good crow or a raven can lay pretty nearly as good an egg.
But take a well-bred Spanish or Japanese hen, or a good pheasant
or a turkey--then you will see the difference. Or take the case
of dogs, with whom we humans are on such intimate terms. Think
first of an ordinary common cur--I mean one of the horrible,
coarse-haired, low-bred curs that do nothing but run about the
streets and befoul the walls of the houses. Compare one of these
curs with a poodle whose sires for many generations have been
bred in a gentleman's house, where they have had the best of food
and had the opportunity of hearing soft voices and music. Do you
not think that the poodle's brain is developed to quite a
different degree from that of the cur? Of course it is. It is
puppies of well-bred poodles like that, that showmen train to do
incredibly clever tricks--things that a common cur could never
learn to do even if it stood on its head. (Uproar and mocking
A Citizen (calls out). Are you going to make out we are dogs,
Another Citizen. We are not animals, Doctor!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes but, bless my soul, we are, my friend! It is
true we are the finest animals anyone could wish for; but, even
among us, exceptionally fine animals are rare. There is a
tremendous difference between poodle-men and cur-men. And the
amusing part of it is, that Mr. Hovstad quite agrees with me as
long as it is a question of four-footed animals--
Hovstad. Yes, it is true enough as far as they are concerned.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well. But as soon as I extend the principle
and apply it to two-legged animals, Mr. Hovstad stops short. He
no longer dares to think independently, or to pursue his ideas to
their logical conclusion; so, he turns the whole theory upside
down and proclaims in the "People's Messenger" that it is the
barn-door hens and street curs that are the finest specimens in
the menagerie. But that is always the way, as long as a man
retains the traces of common origin and has not worked his way up
to intellectual distinction.
Hovstad. I lay no claim to any sort of distinction, I am the son
of humble country-folk, and I am proud that the stock I come from
is rooted deep among the common people he insults.
Voices. Bravo, Hovstad! Bravo! Bravo!
Dr. Stockmann. The kind of common people I mean are not only to
be found low down in the social scale; they crawl and swarm all
around us--even in the highest social positions. You have only to
look at your own fine, distinguished Mayor! My brother Peter is
every bit as plebeian as anyone that walks in two shoes--
(laughter and hisses)
Peter Stockmann. I protest against personal allusions of this
Dr. Stockmann (imperturbably).--and that, not because he is like
myself, descended from some old rascal of a pirate from Pomerania
or thereabouts--because that is who we are descended from--
Peter Stockmann. An absurd legend. I deny it!
Dr. Stockmann. --but because he thinks what his superiors think,
and holds the same opinions as they, People who do that are,
intellectually speaking, common people; and, that is why my
magnificent brother Peter is in reality so very far from any
distinction--and consequently also so far from being liberal-
Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman--!
Hovstad. So it is only the distinguished men that are liberal-
minded in this country? We are learning something quite new!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that is part of my new discovery too. And
another part of it is that broad-mindedness is almost precisely
the same thing as morality. That is why I maintain that it is
absolutely inexcusable in the "People's Messenger" to proclaim,
day in and day out, the false doctrine that it is the masses, the
crowd, the compact majority, that have the monopoly of broad-
mindedness and morality--and that vice and corruption and every
kind of intellectual depravity are the result of culture, just as
all the filth that is draining into our Baths is the result of
the tanneries up at Molledal! (Uproar and interruptions. DR.
STOCKMANN is undisturbed, and goes on, carried away by his
ardour, with a smile.) And yet this same "People's Messenger" can
go on preaching that the masses ought to be elevated to higher
conditions of life! But, bless my soul, if the "Messenger's"
teaching is to be depended upon, this very raising up the masses
would mean nothing more or less than setting them straightway
upon the paths of depravity! Happily the theory that culture
demoralises is only an old falsehood that our forefathers
believed in and we have inherited. No, it is ignorance, poverty,
ugly conditions of life, that do the devil's work! In a house
which does not get aired and swept every day--my wife Katherine
maintains that the floor ought to be scrubbed as well, but that
is a debatable question--in such a house, let me tell you, people
will lose within two or three years the power of thinking or
acting in a moral manner. Lack of oxygen weakens the conscience.
And there must be a plentiful lack of oxygen in very many houses
in this town, I should think, judging from the fact that the
whole compact majority can be unconscientious enough to wish to
build the town's prosperity on a quagmire of falsehood and
Aslaksen. We cannot allow such a grave accusation to be flung at
a citizen community.
A Citizen. I move that the Chairman direct the speaker to sit
Voices (angrily). Hear, hear! Quite right! Make him sit down!
Dr. Stockmann (losing his self-control). Then I will go and shout
the truth at every street corner! I will write it in other towns'
newspapers! The whole country shall know what is going on here!
Hovstad. It almost seems as if Dr. Stockmann's intention were to
ruin the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, my native town is so dear to me that I would
rather ruin it than see it flourishing upon a lie.
Aslaksen. This is really serious. (Uproar and cat-calls MRS.
STOCKMANN coughs, but to no purpose; her husband does not listen
to her any longer.)
Hovstad (shouting above the din). A man must be a public enemy to
wish to ruin a whole community!
Dr. Stockmann (with growing fervor). What does the destruction
of a community matter, if it lives on lies? It ought to be razed
to the ground. I tell you-- All who live by lies ought to be
exterminated like vermin! You will end by infecting the whole
country; you will bring about such a state of things that the
whole country will deserve to be ruined. And if things come to
that pass, I shall say from the bottom of my heart: Let the whole
country perish, let all these people be exterminated!
Voices from the crowd. That is talking like an out-and-out enemy
of the people!
Billing. There sounded the voice of the people, by all that's
The whole crowd. (shouting). Yes, yes! He is an enemy of the
people! He hates his country! He hates his own people!
Aslaksen. Both as a citizen and as an individual, I am profoundly
disturbed by what we have had to listen to. Dr. Stockmann has
shown himself in a light I should never have dreamed of. I am
unhappily obliged to subscribe to the opinion which I have just
heard my estimable fellow-citizens utter; and I propose that we
should give expression to that opinion in a resolution. I propose
a resolution as follows: "This meeting declares that it considers
Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Medical Officer of the Baths, to be an
enemy of the people." (A storm of cheers and applause. A number
of men surround the DOCTOR and hiss him. MRS. STOCKMANN and PETRA
have got up from their seats. MORTEN and EJLIF are fighting the
other schoolboys for hissing; some of their elders separate
Dr. Stockmann (to the men who are hissing him). Oh, you fools! I
tell you that--
Aslaksen (ringing his bell). We cannot hear you now, Doctor. A
formal vote is about to be taken; but, out of regard for personal
feelings, it shall be by ballot and not verbal. Have you any
clean paper, Mr. Billing?
Billing. I have both blue and white here.
Aslaksen (going to him). That will do nicely; we shall get on
more quickly that way. Cut it up into small strips--yes, that's
it. (To the meeting.) Blue means no; white means yes. I will come
round myself and collect votes. (PETER STOCKMANN leaves the hall.
ASLAKSEN and one or two others go round the room with the slips
of paper in their hats.)
1st Citizen (to HOVSTAD). I say, what has come to the Doctor?
What are we to think of it?
Hovstad. Oh, you know how headstrong he is.
2nd Citizen (to BILLING). Billing, you go to their house--have
you ever noticed if the fellow drinks?
Billing. Well I'm hanged if I know what to say. There are always
spirits on the table when you go.
3rd Citizen. I rather think he goes quite off his head sometimes.
1st Citizen. I wonder if there is any madness in his family?
Billing. I shouldn't wonder if there were.
4th Citizen. No, it is nothing more than sheer malice; he wants
to get even with somebody for something or other.
Billing. Well certainly he suggested a rise in his salary on one
occasion lately, and did not get it.
The Citizens (together). Ah!--then it is easy to understand how
The Drunken Man (who has got among the audience again). I want
a blue one, I do! And I want a white one too!
Voices. It's that drunken chap again! Turn him out!
Morten Kiil. (going up to DR. STOCKMANN). Well, Stockmann, do you
see what these monkey tricks of yours lead to?
Dr. Stockmann. I have done my duty.
Morten Kiil. What was that you said about the tanneries at
Dr. Stockmann. You heard well enough. I said they were the source
of all the filth.
Morten Kiil. My tannery too?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately your tannery is by far the worst.
Morten Kiil. Are you going to put that in the papers?
Dr. Stockmann. I shall conceal nothing.
Morten Kiil. That may cost you dearly, Stockmann. (Goes out.)
A Stout Man (going UP to CAPTAIN HORSTER, Without taking any
notice of the ladies). Well, Captain, so you lend your house to
enemies of the people?
Horster. I imagine I can do what I like with my own possessions,
The Stout Man. Then you can have no objection to my doing the
same with mine.
Horster. What do you mean, sir?
The Stout Man. You shall hear from me in the morning. (Turns his
back on him and moves off.)
Petra. Was that not your owner, Captain Horster?
Horster. Yes, that was Mr. Vik the shipowner.
Aslaksen (with the voting-papers in his hands, gets up on to the
platform and rings his bell). Gentlemen, allow me to announce the
result. By the votes of every one here except one person--
A Young Man. That is the drunk chap!
Aslaksen. By the votes of everyone here except a tipsy man, this
meeting of citizens declares Dr. Thomas Stockmann to be an enemy
of the people. (Shouts and applause.) Three cheers for our
ancient and honourable citizen community! (Renewed applause.)
Three cheers for our able and energetic Mayor, who has so loyally
suppressed the promptings of family feeling! (Cheers.) The
meeting is dissolved. (Gets down.)
Billing. Three cheers for the Chairman!
The whole crowd. Three cheers for Aslaksen! Hurrah!
Dr. Stockmann. My hat and coat, Petra! Captain, have you room on
your ship for passengers to the New World?
Horster. For you and yours we will make room, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann (as PETRA helps him into his coat), Good. Come,
Katherine! Come, boys!
Mrs. Stockmann (in an undertone). Thomas, dear, let us go out by
the back way.
Dr. Stockmann. No back ways for me, Katherine, (Raising his
voice.) You will hear more of this enemy of the people, before he
shakes the dust off his shoes upon you! I am not so forgiving as
a certain Person; I do not say: "I forgive you, for ye know not
what ye do."
Aslaksen (shouting). That is a blasphemous comparison, Dr.
Billing. It is, by God! It's dreadful for an earnest man to
A Coarse Voice. Threatens us now, does he!
Other Voices (excitedly). Let's go and break his windows! Duck
him in the fjord!
Another Voice. Blow your horn, Evensen! Pip, pip!
(Horn-blowing, hisses, and wild cries. DR. STOCKMANN goes out
through the hall with his family, HORSTER elbowing a way for
The Whole Crowd (howling after them as they go). Enemy of the
People! Enemy of the People!
Billing (as he puts his papers together). Well, I'm damned if I
go and drink toddy with the Stockmanns tonight!
(The crowd press towards the exit. The uproar continues outside;
shouts of "Enemy of the People!" are heard from without.)
(SCENE.--DR. STOCKMANN'S study. Bookcases and cabinets
containing specimens, line the walls. At the back is a door
leading to the hall; in the foreground on the left, a door
leading to the sitting-room. In the righthand wall are two
windows, of which all the panes are broken. The DOCTOR'S desk,
littered with books and papers, stands in the middle of the room,
which is in disorder. It is morning. DR. STOCKMANN in dressing-
gown, slippers and a smoking-cap, is bending down and raking with
an umbrella under one of the cabinets. After a little while he
rakes out a stone.)
Dr. Stockmann (calling through the open sitting-room door).
Katherine, I have found another one.
Mrs. Stockmann (from the sitting-room). Oh, you will find a lot
more yet, I expect.
Dr. Stockmann (adding the stone to a heap of others on the
table). I shall treasure these stones as relies. Ejlif and Morten
shall look at them everyday, and when they are grown up they
shall inherit them as heirlooms. (Rakes about under a bookcase.)
Hasn't--what the deuce is her name?--the girl, you know--hasn't
she been to fetch the glazier yet?
Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Yes, but he said he didn't know if he
would be able to come today.
Dr. Stockmann. You will see he won't dare to come.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, that is just what Randine thought--that he
didn't dare to, on account of the neighbours. (Calls into the
sitting-room.) What is it you want, Randine? Give it to me. (Goes
in, and comes out again directly.) Here is a letter for you,
Dr. Stockmann. Let me see it. (Opens and reads it.) Ah!--of
Mrs. Stockmann. Who is it from?
Dr. Stockmann. From the landlord. Notice to quit.
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it possible? Such a nice man
Dr. Stockmann (looking at the letter). Does not dare do
otherwise, he says. Doesn't like doing it, but dare not do
otherwise--on account of his fellow-citizens--out of regard for
public opinion. Is in a dependent position--dares not offend
certain influential men.
Mrs. Stockmann. There, you see, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, I see well enough; the whole lot of them
in the town are cowards; not a man among them dares do anything
for fear of the others. (Throws the letter on to the table.) But
it doesn't matter to us, Katherine. We are going to sail away to
the New World, and--
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas, are you sure we are well advised to
take this step?
Dr. Stockmann. Are you suggesting that I should stay here, where
they have pilloried me as an enemy of the people--branded me--
broken my windows! And just look here, Katherine--they have torn
a great rent in my black trousers too!
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, dear!--and they are the best pair you have
Dr. Stockmann. You should never wear your best trousers when you
go out to fight for freedom and truth. It is not that I care so
much about the trousers, you know; you can always sew them up
again for me. But that the common herd should dare to make this
attack on me, as if they were my equals--that is what I cannot,
for the life of me, swallow!
Mrs. Stockmann. There is no doubt they have behaved very ill toward
you, Thomas; but is that sufficient reason for our leaving our
native country for good and all?
Dr. Stockmann. If we went to another town, do you suppose we
should not find the common people just as insolent as they are
here? Depend upon it, there is not much to choose between them.
Oh, well, let the curs snap--that is not the worst part of it.
The worst is that, from one end of this country to the other,
every man is the slave of his Party. Although, as far as that
goes, I daresay it is not much better in the free West either;
the compact majority, and liberal public opinion, and all that
infernal old bag of tricks are probably rampant there too. But
there things are done on a larger scale, you see. They may kill
you, but they won't put you to death by slow torture. They don't
squeeze a free man's soul in a vice, as they do here. And, if
need be, one can live in solitude. (Walks up and down.) If only I
knew where there was a virgin forest or a small South Sea island
for sale, cheap--
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