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MonkeyNotes-An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
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Aslaksen solidifies the public opinion into a resolution that officially declares the doctor to be an enemy. When the motion is put to a written vote, it passes almost unanimously. The crowd starts yelling at Dr. Stockmann as he leaves the hall with his family. On the way out, the doctor asks Captain Horster whether he can provide room on his ship for some passengers who want to go to the New World.


Notes

At the beginning of this act, Dr. Stockmann is eager to enlighten the people about the present condition of the baths and is hopeful that they will understand and support him. Since the Burgomaster has blocked the doctor from holding his meeting in any hall in town, Captain Horster has offered his house for the citizens' meeting. The Burgomaster, Hovstad, and Aslaksen have secretly planned to interfere with Dr. Stockmann's campaign. When the Doctor rises to speak, it is suggested that the meeting have a chairman. Since it would be improper for the Burgomaster to serve as the head of the meeting, Aslaksen is elected. Before long, it is suggested that the meeting should refuse to hear the doctor's lecture on the subject of the baths, for Dr. Stockmann is sure to give a false view; they also claim he is trying to start a revolution in town. It is obvious that the citizens listen to Aslaksen and the Burgomaster and are swayed against the doctor and his findings.

Ibsen is clearly criticizing the power of the bureaucrats, who can easily sway the masses and swing public opinion in their favor. Although the authorities distort the facts and present a biased view, the public accepts them as leaders and listens to what they have to say.

Realizing that he will be unable to give a talk on the horrid conditions of the baths, Dr. Stockmann decides to give a talk on an entirely different subject. He alludes to the "colossal stupidity of the authorities," saying that they are all relics of a decaying order. Dr. Stockmann then embarks on debunking the myths surrounding the concept of democracy. He states that right is never on the side of the majority, which is made up of fools all over the world. He claims that the majority of citizens cannot see the truth, which must survive. The majority is also guilty of destroying spiritual life and should be "exterminated like vermin." "What does it matter," he says, "if a lying community is ruined!"

Dr. Stockmann's outburst is a reaction to the manipulative tactics adopted by persons like Hovstad, Aslaksen, and his brother. Even though it is replete with sarcastic remarks, his tirade is not unwarranted, and his motives are noble. He will not budge an inch on his stance to protect the general public. As a medical doctor, the health and lives of others are his primary concern. However, he is so disillusioned about his treatment that he indicates to the Captain that he may be interested in sailing with him to the New World with his family.

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