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MonkeyNotes-An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Dr. Thomas Stockmann

Dr. Thomas Stockmann is the Medical Officer of the Baths and the brother of the Burgomaster (mayor) of the town. Jovial by nature, the doctor enjoys the company of "bright, cheerful, freedom loving young fellows" who share his idealism and ability to think freely. Stockmann also enjoys his comfortable life style, for in his younger days, he had done without, living on "starvation wages." Throughout the play, Stockman shows himself to be a conscientious person and a caring father.

Dr. Stockmann originally came up with the plans for the baths. When the Burgomaster and the Town Council became involved, the doctor's plans were not followed and short cuts were taken. In fact, the Burgomaster insisted that the baths and the pipes be placed exactly in their present location. The doctor grew suspicious about problems with the baths when he saw several sick patients. Through his own initiative, he tests the water and discovers that the baths, which supply much of the town's livelihood, are contaminated because of the faulty lying of the water pipes. He approaches the Burgomaster, who is also the Chairman of the Baths Committee, and reports the contamination and insists that the pipes be re-laid properly. He threatens to have his article about the baths printed in the local newspaper if corrective again is not immediately begun.


The Burgomaster insists that re-laying the pipes is out of the question because of the expense and the necessity of closing the baths for a period of approximately two years. As a result, Stockmann goes to the press and convinces Hovstad and Aslaksen to publish his charges against the baths. Aslaksen urges the doctor to proceed with moderation; that, however, is not Dr. Stockmann's style. When he believes in a cause, he charges forward with full force, especially when the public's health is at risk. He naively believes that all of the citizens will support him against the Burgomaster and Town Council. His enthusiasm is not even diminished when Hovstad and Aslaksen withdraw their support and refuse to publish his article or when the Burgomaster will not allow him to hold a citizens' meeting in any town hall. He merely states he will deliver his message to the citizens on every town corner.

It is not surprising that Dr. Stockmann, the idealist, is shocked when all of his supporters turn against him, swayed by the false statements of the Burgomaster who claims that re-laying the pipes will destroy the town economically. With fierce independence, the doctor speaks out against the authorities, who he claims are poisoning the sources of spiritual life, and accuses the citizen majority of being fools for following them. In return, the corrupt bureaucrats inflame the citizens against the doctor and have him declared an enemy of the people. He is so disgusted with the public's lack of concern over a health issue that he decides he will take his family and move to the New World, hoping to find a more liberal attitude there.

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