An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen

Essay by Brodyman15 April 2005

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It is very common to become caught in a conflict when two different desires clash with each other. One such case that frequently occurs is the struggle to attain personal success over the welfare of others. In the play An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, the main character, Dr. Stockmann, is faced with such a dilemma as he must not only defend himself but also those around him. Dr. Stockmann tries to both keep the townspeople protected and satisfy his own personal agenda.

The town in which Dr. Stockmann lives has recently created a system of baths that have made the economy stronger than ever. However, Stockmann tests the water and realizes that the water is polluted and can create many problems if the baths continue to function. He then brings his case to the mayor and some of the more influential members of the town in order to fix the problem.

Dr. Stockmann shows a genuine concern for the townspeople and his intentions at this point seem to be to keep the water safe for all. When the mayor explains that fixing the baths would be too costly and simply cannot be done, Dr. Stockmann begins to work with the local newspaper on a plan to take down the corrupt government. He shows this when he states "Because it is not merely a question of water supply and drains you know. No- it is the whole of our social life that we have got to purify and disinfect."(36) Dr. Stockmann wants to use his new

information to expose the fraudulence of the government and would like the people to effectively take some form of control. He is truly looking out for the best of the public in hoping to create a more just society. Dr. Stockmann's...