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An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Farquharson Sharp
December, 2000 [Etext #2446]
Project Gutenberg's Etext An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen
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AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
by Henrik Ibsen
Translated by R Farquharson Sharp
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
A play in five acts
Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Medical Officer of the Municipal Baths.
Mrs. Stockmann, his wife.
Petra (their daughter) a teacher.
Ejlif & Morten (their sons, aged 13 and 10 respectively).
Peter Stockmann (the Doctor's elder brother), Mayor of the
Town and Chief Constable, Chairman of the Baths' Committee, etc.
Morten Kiil, a tanner (Mrs. Stockmann's adoptive father).
Hovstad, editor of the "People's Messenger."
Aslaksen, a printer.
Men of various conditions and occupations, a few women, and a
troop of schoolboys--the audience at a public meeting.
The action takes place in a coastal town in southern Norway,
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
(SCENE.--DR. STOCKMANN'S sitting-room. It is evening. The room is
plainly but neatly appointed and furnished. In the right-hand
wall are two doors; the farther leads out to the hall, the nearer
to the doctor's study. In the left-hand wall, opposite the door
leading to the hall, is a door leading to the other rooms
occupied by the family. In the middle of the same wall stands the
stove, and, further forward, a couch with a looking-glass hanging
over it and an oval table in front of it. On the table, a lighted
lamp, with a lampshade. At the back of the room, an open door
leads to the dining-room. BILLING is seen sitting at the dining
table, on which a lamp is burning. He has a napkin tucked under
his chin, and MRS. STOCKMANN is standing by the table handing him
a large plate-full of roast beef. The other places at the table
are empty, and the table somewhat in disorder, evidently a meal
having recently been finished.)
Mrs. Stockmann. You see, if you come an hour late, Mr. Billing,
you have to put up with cold meat.
Billing (as he eats). It is uncommonly good, thank you--
Mrs. Stockmann. My husband makes such a point of having his meals
punctually, you know.
Billing. That doesn't affect me a bit. Indeed, I almost think I
enjoy a meal all the better when I can sit down and eat all by
myself, and undisturbed.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh well, as long as you are enjoying it--. (Turns
to the hall door, listening.) I expect that is Mr. Hovstad coming
Billing. Very likely.
(PETER STOCKMANN comes in. He wears an overcoat and his official
hat, and carries a stick.)
Peter Stockmann. Good evening, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming forward into the sitting-room). Ah, good
evening--is it you? How good of you to come up and see us!
Peter Stockmann. I happened to be passing, and so--(looks into
the dining-room). But you have company with you, I see.
Mrs. Stockmann (a little embarrassed). Oh, no--it was quite by
chance he came in. (Hurriedly.) Won't you come in and have
Peter Stockmann. I! No, thank you. Good gracious--hot meat at
night! Not with my digestion,
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, but just once in a way--
Peter Stockmann. No, no, my dear lady; I stick to my tea and
bread and butter. It is much more wholesome in the long run--and
a little more economical, too.
Mrs. Stockmann (smiling). Now you mustn't think that Thomas and I
Peter Stockmann. Not you, my dear; I would never think that of
you. (Points to the Doctor's study.) Is he not at home?
Mrs. Stockmann. No, he went out for a little turn after supper--
he and the boys.
Peter Stockmann. I doubt if that is a wise thing to do.
(Listens.) I fancy I hear him coming now.
Mrs. Stockmann. No, I don't think it is he. (A knock is heard at
the door.) Come in! (HOVSTAD comes in from the hall.) Oh, it is
you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Yes, I hope you will forgive me, but I was delayed at
the printers. Good evening, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann (bowing a little distantly). Good evening. You
have come on business, no doubt.
Hovstad. Partly. It's about an article for the paper.
Peter Stockmann. So I imagined. I hear my brother has become a
prolific contributor to the "People's Messenger."
Hovstad. Yes, he is good enough to write in the "People's
Messenger" when he has any home truths to tell.
Mrs, Stockmann (to HOVSTAD). But won't you--? (Points to the
Peter Stockmann. Quite so, quite so. I don't blame him in the
least, as a writer, for addressing himself to the quarters where
he will find the readiest sympathy. And, besides that, I
personally have no reason to bear any ill will to your paper, Mr.
Hovstad. I quite agree with you.
Peter Stockmann. Taking one thing with another, there is an
excellent spirit of toleration in the town--an admirable
municipal spirit. And it all springs from the fact of our having
a great common interest to unite us--an interest that is in an
equally high degree the concern of every right-minded citizen
Hovstad. The Baths, yes.
Peter Stockmann. Exactly---our fine, new, handsome Baths. Mark my
words, Mr. Hovstad--the Baths will become the focus of our
municipal life! Not a doubt of it!
Mrs. Stockmann. That is just what Thomas says.
Peter Stockmann. Think how extraordinarily the place has
developed within the last year or two! Money has been flowing in,
and there is some life and some business doing in the town.
Houses and landed property are rising in value every day.
Hovstad. And unemployment is diminishing,
Peter Stockmann. Yes, that is another thing. The burden on the
poor rates has been lightened, to the great relief of the
propertied classes; and that relief will be even greater if only
we get a really good summer this year, and lots of visitors--
plenty of invalids, who will make the Baths talked about.
Hovstad. And there is a good prospect of that, I hear.
Peter Stockmann. It looks very promising. Inquiries about
apartments and that sort of thing are reaching us, every day.
Hovstad. Well, the doctor's article will come in very suitably.
Peter Stockmann. Has he been writing something just lately?
Hovstad. This is something he wrote in the winter; a
recommendation of the Baths--an account of the excellent sanitary
conditions here. But I held the article over, temporarily.
Peter Stockmann. Ah,--some little difficulty about it, I suppose?
Hovstad. No, not at all; I thought it would be better to wait
until the spring, because it is just at this time that people
begin to think seriously about their summer quarters.
Peter Stockmann. Quite right; you were perfectly right, Mr.
Hovstad. Yes, Thomas is really indefatigable when it is a
question of the Baths.
Peter Stockmann. Well remember, he is the Medical Officer to the
Hovstad. Yes, and what is more, they owe their existence to him.
Peter Stockmann. To him? Indeed! It is true I have heard from
time to time that some people are of that opinion. At the same
time I must say I imagined that I took a modest part in the
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is what Thomas is always saying.
Hovstad. But who denies it, Mr. Stockmann? You set the thing
going and made a practical concern of it; we all know that. I
only meant that the idea of it came first from the doctor.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, ideas yes! My brother has had plenty of them
in his time--unfortunately. But when it is a question of putting
an idea into practical shape, you have to apply to a man of
different mettle. Mr. Hovstad. And I certainly should have
thought that in this house at least...
Mrs. Stockmann. My dear Peter--
Hovstad. How can you think that--?
Mrs. Stockmann. Won't you go in and have something, Mr. Hovstad?
My husband is sure to be back directly.
Hovstad. Thank you, perhaps just a morsel. (Goes into the dining-
Peter Stockmann (lowering his voice a little). It is a curious
thing that these farmers' sons never seem to lose their want of
Mrs. Stockmann. Surely it is not worth bothering about! Cannot
you and Thomas share the credit as brothers?
Peter Stockmann. I should have thought so; but apparently some
people are not satisfied with a share.
Mrs. Stockmann. What nonsense! You and Thomas get on so capitally
together. (Listens.) There he is at last, I think. (Goes out and
opens the door leading to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing and talking outside). Look here--here is
another guest for you, Katherine. Isn't that jolly! Come in,
Captain Horster; hang your coat up on this peg. Ah, you don't
wear an overcoat. Just think, Katherine; I met him in the street
and could hardly persuade him to come up! (CAPTAIN HORSTER comes
into the room and greets MRS. STOCKMANN. He is followed by DR.
STOCKMANN.) Come along in, boys. They are ravenously hungry
again, you know. Come along, Captain Horster; you must have a
slice of beef. (Pushes HORSTER into the dining-room. EJLIF and
MORTEN go in after them.)
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas, don't you see--?
Dr. Stockmann (turning in the doorway). Oh, is it you, Peter?
(Shakes hands with him.) Now that is very delightful.
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately I must go in a moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish! There is some toddy just coming in. You
haven't forgotten the toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Of course not; the water is boiling now. (Goes
into the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann. Toddy too!
Dr, Stockmann. Yes, sit down and we will have it comfortably.
Peter Stockmann. Thanks, I never care about an evening's
Dr. Stockmann. But this isn't an evening's drinking.
Peter Stockmann. It seems to me--. (Looks towards the dining-
room.) It is extraordinary how they can put away all that food.
Dr. Stockmann (rubbing his hands). Yes, isn't it splendid to see
young people eat? They have always got an appetite, you know!
That's as it should be. Lots of food--to build up their strength!
They are the people who are going to stir up the fermenting
forces of the future, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. May I ask what they will find here to "stir up,"
as you put it?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you must ask the young people that--when the
times comes. We shan't be able to see it, of course. That stands
to reason--two old fogies, like us.
Peter Stockmann. Really, really! I must say that is an extremely
odd expression to--
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you mustn't take me too literally, Peter. I am
so heartily happy and contented, you know. I think it is such an
extraordinary piece of good fortune to be in the middle of all
this growing, germinating life. It is a splendid time to live in!
It is as if a whole new world were being created around one.
Peter Stockmann. Do you really think so?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, naturally you can't appreciate it as keenly as
I. You have lived all your life in these surroundings, and your
impressions have been blunted. But I, who have been buried all
these years in my little corner up north, almost without ever
seeing a stranger who might bring new ideas with him--well, in
my case it has just the same effect as if I had been transported
into the middle of a crowded city.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, a city--!
Dr. Stockmann. I know, I know; it is all cramped enough here,
compared with many other places. But there is life here--there is
promise--there are innumerable things to work for and fight for;
and that is the main thing. (Calls.) Katherine, hasn't the
postman been here?
Mrs. Stockmann (from the dining-room). No.
Dr. Stockmann. And then to be comfortably off, Peter! That is
something one learns to value, when one has been on the brink of
starvation, as we have.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, surely--
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I can assure you we have often been very
hard put to it, up there. And now to be able to live like a lord!
Today, for instance, we had roast beef for dinner--and, what is
more, for supper too. Won't you come and have a little bit? Or
let me show it you, at any rate? Come here--
Peter Stockmann. No, no--not for worlds!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but just come here then. Do you see, we have
got a table-cover?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I noticed it.
Dr. Stockmann. And we have got a lamp-shade too. Do you see? All
out of Katherine's savings! It makes the room so cosy. Don't you
think so? Just stand here for a moment--no, no, not there--just
here, that's it! Look now, when you get the light on it
altogether. I really think it looks very nice, doesn't it?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, if you can afford luxuries of this kind--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I can afford it now. Katherine tells me I
earn almost as much as we spend.
Peter Stockmann. Almost--yes!
Dr. Stockmann. But a scientific man must live in a little bit of
style. I am quite sure an ordinary civil servant spends more in a
year than I do.
Peter Stockmann. I daresay. A civil servant--a man in a well-paid
Dr. Stockmann. Well, any ordinary merchant, then! A man in that
position spends two or three times as much as--
Peter Stockmann. It just depends on circumstances.
Dr. Stockmann. At all events I assure you I don't waste money
unprofitably. But I can't find it in my heart to deny myself the
pleasure of entertaining my friends. I need that sort of thing,
you know. I have lived for so long shut out of it all, that it is
a necessity of life to me to mix with young, eager, ambitious
men, men of liberal and active minds; and that describes every
one of those fellows who are enjoying their supper in there. I
wish you knew more of Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann. By the way, Hovstad was telling me he was going
to print another article of yours.
Dr. Stockmann. An article of mine?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, about the Baths. An article you wrote in
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that one! No, I don't intend that to appear
just for the present.
Peter Stockmann. Why not? It seems to me that this would be the
most opportune moment.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, very likely--under normal conditions.
(Crosses the room.)
Peter Stockmann (following him with his eyes). Is there anything
abnormal about the present conditions?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still). To tell you the truth, Peter, I
can't say just at this moment--at all events not tonight. There
may be much that is very abnormal about the present conditions--
and it is possible there may be nothing abnormal about them at
all. It is quite possible it may be merely my imagination.
Peter Stockmann. I must say it all sounds most mysterious. Is
there something going on that I am to be kept in ignorance of? I
should have imagined that I, as Chairman of the governing body of
Dr. Stockmann. And I should have imagined that I--. Oh, come,
don't let us fly out at one another, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. Heaven forbid! I am not in the habit of flying
out at people, as you call it. But I am entitled to request most
emphatically that all arrangements shall be made in a
businesslike manner, through the proper channels, and shall be
dealt with by the legally constituted authorities. I can allow no
going behind our backs by any roundabout means.
Dr. Stockmann. Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your
Peter Stockmann. You have an ingrained tendency to take your own
way, at all events; and, that is almost equally inadmissible in a
well ordered community, The individual ought undoubtedly to
acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community--or, to speak
more accurately, to the authorities who have the care of the
Dr. Stockmann. Very likely. But what the deuce has all this got
to do with me?
Peter Stockmann. That is exactly what you never appear to be
willing to learn, my dear Thomas. But, mark my words, some day
you will have to suffer for it--sooner or later. Now I have told
Dr. Stockmann. Have you taken leave of your senses? You are on
the wrong scent altogether.
Peter Stockmann. I am not usually that. You must excuse me now if
I-- (calls into the dining-room). Good night, Katherine. Good
night, gentlemen. (Goes out.)
Mrs. Stockmann (coming from the dining-room). Has he gone?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and in such a bad temper.
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, what have you been doing to him
Dr. Stockmann. Nothing at all. And, anyhow, he can't oblige me to
make my report before the proper time.
Mrs. Stockmann. What have you got to make a report to him about?
Dr. Stockmann. Hm! Leave that to me, Katherine. It is an
extraordinary thing that the postman doesn't come.
(HOVSTAD, BILLING and HORSTER have got up from the table and come
into the sitting-room. EJLIF and MORTEN come in after them.)
Billing (stretching himself). Ah!--one feels a new man after a
meal like that.
Hovstad. The mayor wasn't in a very sweet temper tonight, then.
Dr. Stockmann. It is his stomach; he has wretched digestion.
Hovstad. I rather think it was us two of the "People's Messenger"
that he couldn't digest.
Mrs. Stockmann. I thought you came out of it pretty well with
Hovstad. Oh yes; but it isn't anything more than a sort of truce.
Billing. That is just what it is! That word sums up the
Dr. Stockmann. We must remember that Peter is a lonely man, poor
chap. He has no home comforts of any kind; nothing but
everlasting business. And all that infernal weak tea wash that he
pours into himself! Now then, my boys, bring chairs up to the
table. Aren't we going to have that toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann (going into the dining-room). I am just getting
Dr. Stockmann. Sit down here on the couch beside me, Captain
Horster. We so seldom see you. Please sit down, my friends.
(They sit down at the table. MRS. STOCKMANN brings a tray, with a
spirit-lamp, glasses, bottles, etc., upon it.)
Mrs. Stockmann. There you are! This is arrack, and this is rum,
and this one is the brandy. Now every one must help themselves.
Dr. Stockmann (taking a glass). We will. (They all mix themselves
some toddy.) And let us have the cigars. Ejlif, you know where
the box is. And you, Morten, can fetch my pipe. (The two boys go
into the room on the right.) I have a suspicion that Ejlif
pockets a cigar now and then!--but I take no notice of it. (Calls
out.) And my smoking-cap too, Morten. Katherine, you can tell him
where I left it. Ah, he has got it. (The boys bring the various
things.) Now, my friends. I stick to my pipe, you know. This one
has seen plenty of bad weather with me up north. (Touches glasses
with them.) Your good health! Ah, it is good to be sitting snug
and warm here,
Mrs. Stockmann (who sits knitting). Do you sail soon, Captain
Horster. I expect to be ready to sail next week.
Mrs. Stockmann. I suppose you are going to America?
Horster. Yes, that is the plan.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then you won't be able to take part in the coming
Horster. Is there going to be an election?
Billing. Didn't you know?
Horster. No, I don't mix myself up with those things.
Billing. But do you not take an interest in public affairs?
Horster. No, I don't know anything about politics.
Billing. All the same, one ought to vote, at any rate.
Horster. Even if one doesn't know anything about what is going
Billing. Doesn't know! What do you mean by that? A community is
like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
Horster. Maybe that is all very well on shore; but on board ship
it wouldn't work.
Hovstad. It is astonishing how little most sailors care about
what goes on on shore.
Billing. Very extraordinary.
Dr. Stockmann. Sailors are like birds of passage; they feel
equally at home in any latitude. And that is only an additional
reason for our being all the more keen, Hovstad. Is there to be
anything of public interest in tomorrow's "Messenger"?
Hovstad. Nothing about municipal affairs. But the day after
tomorrow I was thinking of printing your article--
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, devil take it--my article! Look here, that
must wait a bit.
Hovstad. Really? We had just got convenient space for it, and I
thought it was just the opportune moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, very likely you are right; but it must
wait all the same. I will explain to you later. (PETRA comes in
from the hall, in hat and cloak and with a bundle of exercise
books under her arm.)
Petra. Good evening.
Dr. Stockmann. Good evening, Petra; come along.
(Mutual greetings; PETRA takes off her things and puts them down
on a chair by the door.)
Petra. And you have all been sitting here enjoying yourselves,
while I have been out slaving!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, come and enjoy yourself too!
Billing. May I mix a glass for you?
Petra (coming to the table). Thanks, I would rather do it; you
always mix it too strong. But I forgot, father--I have a letter
for you. (Goes to the chair where she has laid her things.)
Dr. Stockmann. A letter? From whom?
Petra (looking in her coat pocket). The postman gave it to me
just as I was going out.
Dr. Stockmann (getting up and going to her). And you only give to
Petra. I really had not time to run up again. There it is!
Dr. Stockmann (seizing the letter). Let's see, let's see, child!
(Looks at the address.) Yes, that's all right!
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it the one you have been expecting go
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it is. I must go to my room now and-- Where
shall I get a light, Katherine? Is there no lamp in my room
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, your lamp is already lit on your desk.
Dr. Stockmann. Good, good. Excuse me for a moment--, (Goes into
Petra. What do you suppose it is, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; for the last day or two he has
always been asking if the postman has not been,
Billing. Probably some country patient.
Petra. Poor old dad!--he will overwork himself soon. (Mixes a
glass for herself.) There, that will taste good!
Hovstad. Have you been teaching in the evening school again
Petra (sipping from her glass). Two hours.
Billing. And four hours of school in the morning?
Petra. Five hours.
Mrs. Stockmann. And you have still got exercises to correct, I
Petra. A whole heap, yes.
Horster. You are pretty full up with work too, it seems to me.
Petra. Yes--but that is good. One is so delightfully tired after
Billing. Do you like that?
Petra. Yes, because one sleeps so well then.
Morten. You must be dreadfully wicked, Petra.
Morten. Yes, because you work so much. Mr. Rorlund says work is a
punishment for our sins.
Ejlif. Pooh, what a duffer, you are, to believe a thing like
Mrs. Stockmann. Come, come, Ejlif!
Billing (laughing). That's capital!
Hovstad. Don't you want to work as hard as that, Morten?
Morten. No, indeed I don't.
Hovstad. What do you want to be, then?
Morten. I should like best to be a Viking,
Ejlif. You would have to be a pagan then.
Morten. Well, I could become a pagan, couldn't I?
Billing. I agree with you, Morten! My sentiments, exactly.
Mrs. Stockmann (signalling to him). I am sure that is not true,
Billing. Yes, I swear it is! I am a pagan, and I am proud of it.
Believe me, before long we shall all be pagans.
Morten. And then shall be allowed to do anything we like?
Billing. Well, you'll see, Morten.
Mrs. Stockmann. You must go to your room now, boys; I am sure you
have some lessons to learn for tomorrow.
Ejlif. I should like so much to stay a little longer--
Mrs. Stockmann. No, no; away you go, both of you, (The boys say
good night and go into the room on the left.)
Hovstad. Do you really think it can do the boys any harm to hear
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; but I don't like it.
Petra. But you know, mother, I think you really are wrong about
Mrs. Stockmann. Maybe, but I don't like it--not in our own home.
Petra. There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At
home one must not speak, and at school we have to stand and tell
lies to the children.
Horster. Tell lies?
Petra. Yes, don't you suppose we have to teach them all sorts of
things that we don't believe?
Billing. That is perfectly true.
Petra. If only I had the means, I would start a school of my own;
and it would be conducted on very different lines.
Billing. Oh, bother the means--!
Horster. Well if you are thinking of that, Miss Stockmann, I
shall be delighted to provide you with a schoolroom. The great
big old house my father left me is standing almost empty; there
is an immense dining-room downstairs--
Petra (laughing). Thank you very much; but I am afraid nothing
will come of it.
Hovstad. No, Miss Petra is much more likely to take to
journalism, I expect. By the way, have you had time to do
anything with that English story you promised to translate for
Petra. No, not yet, but you shall have it in good time.
(DR. STOCKMANN comes in from his room with an open letter in his
Dr. Stockmann (waving the letter). Well, now the town will have
something new to talk about, I can tell you!
Billing. Something new?
Mrs. Stockmann. What is this?
Dr. Stockmann. A great discovery, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann. A discovery of yours?
Dr. Stockmann. A discovery of mine. (Walks up and down.) Just let
them come saying, as usual, that it is all fancy and a crazy
man's imagination! But they will be careful what they say this
time, I can tell you!
Petra. But, father, tell us what it is.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes--only give me time, and you shall know
all about it. If only I had Peter here now! It just shows how we
men can go about forming our judgments, when in reality we are as
blind as any moles--
Hovstad. What are you driving at, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still by the table). Isn't it the
universal opinion that our town is a healthy spot?
Dr. Stockmann. Quite an unusually healthy spot, in fact--a place
that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner
either for invalids or for people who are well--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but my dear Thomas--
Dr. Stockmann. And we have been recommending it and praising it--
I have written and written, both in the "Messenger" and in
Hovstad. Well, what then?
Dr. Stockmann. And the Baths--we have called them the "main
artery of the town's life-blood," the "nerve-centre of our town,"
and the devil knows what else--
Billing. "The town's pulsating heart" was the expression I once
used on an important occasion.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. Well, do you know what they really are,
these great, splendid, much praised Baths, that have cost so much
money--do you know what they are?
Hovstad. No, what are they?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, what are they?
Dr. Stockmann. The whole place is a pest-house!
Petra. The Baths, father?
Mrs. Stockmann (at the same time), Our Baths?
Hovstad. But, Doctor--
Billing. Absolutely incredible!
Dr. Stockmann. The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned
sepulchre, I tell you--the gravest possible danger to the public
health! All the nastiness up at Molledal, all that stinking
filth, is infecting the water in the conduit-pipes leading to the
reservoir; and the same cursed, filthy poison oozes out on the
Horster. Where the bathing-place is?
Dr. Stockmann. Just there.
Hovstad. How do you come to be so certain of all this, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. I have investigated the matter most
conscientiously. For a long time past I have suspected something
of the kind. Last year we had some very strange cases of illness
among the visitors--typhoid cases, and cases of gastric fever--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is quite true.
Dr. Stockmann. At the time, we supposed the visitors had been
infected before they came; but later on, in the winter, I began
to have a different opinion; and so I set myself to examine the
water, as well as I could.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then that is what you have been so busy with?
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I have been busy, Katherine. But here I had
none of the necessary scientific apparatus; so I sent samples,
both of the drinking-water and of the sea-water, up to the
University, to have an accurate analysis made by a chemist.
Hovstad. And have you got that?
Dr. Stockmann (showing him the letter). Here it is! It proves the
presence of decomposing organic matter in the water--it is full
of infusoria. The water is absolutely dangerous to use, either
internally or externally.
Mrs. Stockmann. What a mercy you discovered it in time.
Dr. Stockmann. You may well say so.
Hovstad. And what do you propose to do now, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. To see the matter put right, naturally.
Hovstad. Can that be done?
Dr. Stockmann. It must be done. Otherwise the Baths will be
absolutely useless and wasted. But we need not anticipate that; I
have a very clear idea what we shall have to do.
Mrs. Stockmann. But why have you kept this all so secret, dear?
Dr. Stockmann. Do you suppose I was going to run about the town
gossiping about it, before I had absolute proof? No, thank you. I
am not such a fool.
Petra. Still, you might have told us--
Dr. Stockmann. Not a living soul. But tomorrow you may run around
to the old Badger--
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, Thomas! Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, to your grandfather, then. The old boy will
have something to be astonished at! I know he thinks I am
cracked--and there are lots of other people who think so too, I have
noticed. But now these good folks shall see--they shall just see!
(Walks about, rubbing his hands.) There will be a nice upset
in the town, Katherine; you can't imagine what it will be. All
the conduit-pipes will have to be relaid.
Hovstad (getting up). All the conduit-pipes--?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course. The intake is too low down; it
will have to be lifted to a position much higher up.
Petra. Then you were right after all.
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you remember, Petra--I wrote opposing the
plans before the work was begun. But at that time no one would
listen to me. Well, I am going to let them have it now. Of
course I have prepared a report for the Baths Committee; I have
had it ready for a week, and was only waiting for this to come.
(Shows the letter.) Now it shall go off at once. (Goes into his
room and comes back with some papers.) Look at that! Four closely
written sheets!--and the letter shall go with them. Give me a bit
of paper, Katherine--something to wrap them up in. That will do!
Now give it to-to-(stamps his foot)--what the deuce is her name?
--give it to the maid, and tell her to take it at once to the
(Mrs. Stockmann takes the packet and goes out through the dining-
Petra. What do you think Uncle Peter will say, father?
Dr. Stockmann. What is there for him to say? I should think he
would be very glad that such an important truth has been brought
Hovstad. Will you let me print a short note about your discovery
in the "Messenger?"
Dr. Stockmann. I shall be very much obliged if you will.
Hovstad. It is very desirable that the public should be informed
of it without delay.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming back). She has just gone with it.
Billing. Upon my soul, Doctor, you are going to be the foremost
man in the town!
Dr. Stockmann (walking about happily). Nonsense! As a matter of
fact I have done nothing more than my duty. I have only made a
lucky find--that's all. Still, all the same...
Billing. Hovstad, don't you think the town ought to give Dr.
Stockmann some sort of testimonial?
Hovstad. I will suggest it, anyway.
Billing. And I will speak to Aslaksen about it.
Dr. Stockmann. No, my good friends, don't let us have any of that
nonsense. I won't hear anything of the kind. And if the Baths
Committee should think of voting me an increase of salary, I will
not accept it. Do you hear, Katherine?--I won't accept it.
Mrs. Stockmann. You are quite right, Thomas.
Petra (lifting her glass). Your health, father!
Hovstad and Billing. Your health, Doctor! Good health!
Horster (touches glasses with DR. STOCKMANN). I hope it will
bring you nothing but good luck.
Dr. Stockmann. Thank you, thank you, my dear fellows! I feel
tremendously happy! It is a splendid thing for a man to be able
to feel that he has done a service to his native town and to his
fellow-citizens. Hurrah, Katherine! (He puts his arms round her
and whirls her round and round, while she protests with laughing
cries. They all laugh, clap their hands, and cheer the DOCTOR.
The boys put their heads in at the door to see what is going on.)
(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
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
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,
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
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
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.)
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,
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
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
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 at first imagined. And he has put his
paper 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 bathe
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
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
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 appears
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
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
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
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--?
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
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
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
(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--
Mrs. Stockmann. But think of the boys, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann (standing still). What a strange woman you are,
Katherine! Would you prefer to have the boys grow up in a society
like this? You saw for yourself last night that half the
population are out of their minds; and if the other half have not
lost their senses, it is because they are mere brutes, with no
sense to lose.
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas dear, the imprudent things you said
had something to do with it, you know.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, isn't what I said perfectly true? Don't they
turn every idea topsy-turvy? Don't they make a regular hotchpotch
of right and wrong? Don't they say that the things I know are
true, are lies? The craziest part of it all is the fact of these
"liberals," men of full age, going about in crowds imagining that
they are the broad-minded party! Did you ever hear anything like
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, yes, it's mad enough of them, certainly;
but--(PETRA comes in from the silting-room). Back from school
Petra. Yes. I have been given notice of dismissal.
Mrs. Stockmann. Dismissal?
Dr. Stockmann. You too?
Petra. Mrs. Busk gave me my notice; so I thought it was best to
go at once.
Dr. Stockmann. You were perfectly right, too!
Mrs. Stockmann. Who would have thought Mrs. Busk was a woman like
Petra. Mrs. Busk isn't a bit like that, mother; I saw quite
plainly how it hurt her to do it. But she didn't dare do
otherwise, she said; and so I got my notice.
Dr. Stockmann (laughing and rubbing his hands). She didn't dare
do otherwise, either! It's delicious!
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, after the dreadful scenes last night--
Petra. It was not only that. Just listen to this, father!
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Petra. Mrs. Busk showed me no less than three letters she
received this morning--
Dr. Stockmann. Anonymous, I suppose?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, because they didn't dare to risk signing
their names, Katherine!
Petra. And two of them were to the effect that a man, who has
been our guest here, was declaring last night at the Club that my
views on various subjects are extremely emancipated--
Dr. Stockmann. You did not deny that, I hope?
Petra. No, you know I wouldn't. Mrs. Busk's own views are
tolerably emancipated, when we are alone together; but now that
this report about me is being spread, she dare not keep me on any
Mrs. Stockmann. And someone who had been a guest of ours! That
shows you the return you get for your hospitality, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. We won't live in such a disgusting hole any
longer. Pack up as quickly as you can, Katherine; the sooner we
can get away, the better.
Mrs. Stockmann. Be quiet--I think I hear someone in the hall.
See who it is, Petra.
Petra (opening the door). Oh, it's you, Captain Horster! Do come
Horster (coming in). Good morning. I thought I would just come in
and see how you were.
Dr. Stockmann (shaking his hand). Thanks--that is really kind of
Mrs. Stockmann. And thank you, too, for helping us through the
crowd, Captain Horster.
Petra. How did you manage to get home again?
Horster. Oh, somehow or other. I am fairly strong, and there is
more sound than fury about these folk.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, isn't their swinish cowardice astonishing?
Look here, I will show you something! There are all the stones
they have thrown through my windows. Just look at them! I'm
hanged if there are more than two decently large bits of
hard stone in the whole heap; the rest are nothing but gravel--
wretched little things. And yet they stood out there bawling and
swearing that they would do me some violence; but as for doing
anything--you don't see much of that in this town.
Horster. Just as well for you this time, doctor!
Dr. Stockmann. True enough. But it makes one angry all the same;
because if some day it should be a question of a national fight
in real earnest, you will see that public opinion will be in
favour of taking to one's heels, and the compact majority will
turn tail like a flock of sheep, Captain Horster. That is what is
so mournful to think of; it gives me so much concern, that--. No,
devil take it, it is ridiculous to care about it! They have
called me an enemy of the people, so an enemy of the people let
Mrs. Stockmann. You will never be that, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Don't swear to that, Katherine. To be called an
ugly name may have the same effect as a pin-scratch in the lung.
And that hateful name--I can't get quit of it. It is sticking
here in the pit of my stomach, eating into me like a corrosive
acid. And no magnesia will remove it.
Petra. Bah!--you should only laugh at them, father,
Horster. They will change their minds some day, Doctor.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, Thomas, as sure as you are standing here.
Dr. Stockmann. Perhaps, when it is too late. Much good may it do
them! They may wallow in their filth then and rue the day when
they drove a patriot into exile. When do you sail, Captain
Horster. Hm!--that was just what I had come to speak about--
Dr. Stockmann. Why, has anything gone wrong with the ship?
Horster. No; but what has happened is that I am not to sail in
Petra. Do you mean that you have been dismissed from your
Horster (smiling). Yes, that's just it.
Petra. You too.
Mrs. Stockmann. There, you see, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. And that for the truth's sake! Oh, if I had
thought such a thing possible--
Horster. You mustn't take it to heart; I shall be sure to find a
job with some ship-owner or other, elsewhere.
Dr. Stockmann. And that is this man Vik--a wealthy man,
independent of everyone and everything--! Shame on him!
Horster. He is quite an excellent fellow otherwise; he told me
himself he would willingly have kept me on, if only he had dared--
Dr. Stockmann. But he didn't dare? No, of course not.
Horster. It is not such an easy matter, he said, for a party man--
Dr. Stockmann. The worthy man spoke the truth. A party is like a
sausage machine; it mashes up all sorts of heads together into
the same mincemeat--fatheads and blockheads, all in one mash!
Mrs. Stockmann. Come, come, Thomas dear!
Petra (to HORSTER). If only you had not come home with us, things
might not have come to this pass.
Horster. I do not regret it.
Petra (holding out her hand to him). Thank you for that!
Horster (to DR. STOCKMANN). And so what I came to say was that if
you are determined to go away, I have thought of another plan--
Dr. Stockmann. That's splendid!--if only we can get away at once.
Mrs. Stockmann. Hush!--wasn't that some one knocking?
Petra. That is uncle, surely.
Dr. Stockmann. Aha! (Calls out.) Come in!
Mrs. Stockmann. Dear Thomas, promise me definitely--. (PETER
STOCKMANN comes in from the hall.)
Peter Stockmann. Oh, you are engaged. In that case, I will--
Dr. Stockmann. No, no, come in.
Peter Stockmann. But I wanted to speak to you alone.
Mrs. Stockmann. We will go into the sitting-room in the
Horster. And I will look in again later.
Dr. Stockmann. No, go in there with them, Captain Horster; I want
to hear more about--.
Horster. Very well, I will wait, then. (He follows MRS. STOCKMANN
and PETRA into the sitting-room.)
Dr. Stockmann. I daresay you find it rather draughty here today.
Put your hat on.
Peter Stockmann. Thank you, if I may. (Does so.) I think I caught
cold last night; I stood and shivered--
Dr. Stockmann. Really? I found it warm enough.
Peter Stockmann. I regret that it was not in my power to prevent
those excesses last night.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you anything in particular to say to me
Peter Stockmann (taking a big letter from his pocket). I have
this document for you, from the Baths Committee.
Dr. Stockmann. My dismissal?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, dating from today. (Lays the letter on the
table.) It gives us pain to do it; but, to speak frankly, we
dared not do otherwise on account of public opinion.
Dr. Stockmann (smiling). Dared not? I seem to have heard that
word before, today.
Peter Stockmann. I must beg you to understand your position
clearly. For the future you must not count on any practice
whatever in the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Devil take the practice! But why are you so sure
Peter Stockmann. The Householders' Association is circulating a
list from house to house. All right-minded citizens are being
called upon to give up employing you; and I can assure you that
not a single head of a family will risk refusing his signature.
They simply dare not.
Dr. Stockmann. No, no; I don't doubt it. But what then?
Peter Stockmann. If I might advise you, it would be best to leave
the place for a little while--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, the propriety of leaving the place has
occurred to me.
Peter Stockmann. Good. And then, when you have had six months to
think things over, if, after mature consideration, you can
persuade yourself to write a few words of regret, acknowledging
Dr. Stockmann. I might have my appointment restored to me, do you
Peter Stockmann. Perhaps. It is not at all impossible.
Dr. Stockmann. But what about public opinion, then? Surely you
would not dare to do it on account of public feeling...
Peter Stockmann. Public opinion is an extremely mutable thing.
And, to be quite candid with you, it is a matter of great
importance to us to have some admission of that sort from you in
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that's what you are after, is it! I will just
trouble you to remember what I said to you lately about foxy
tricks of that sort!
Peter Stockmann. Your position was quite different then. At that
time you had reason to suppose you had the whole town at your
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and now I feel I have the whole town ON my
back--(flaring up). I would not do it if I had the devil and his
dam on my back--! Never--never, I tell you!
Peter Stockmann. A man with a family has no right to behave as
you do. You have no right to do it, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. I have no right! There is only one single thing in
the world a free man has no right to do. Do you know what that
Peter Stockmann. No.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course you don't, but I will tell you. A free
man has no right to soil himself with filth; he has no right to
behave in a way that would justify his spitting in his own face.
Peter Stockmann. This sort of thing sounds extremely plausible,
of course; and if there were no other explanation for your
obstinacy--. But as it happens that there is.
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?
Peter Stockmann. You understand, very well what I mean. But, as
your brother and as a man of discretion, I advise you not to
build too much upon expectations and prospects that may so very
easily fail you.
Dr. Stockmann. What in the world is all this about?
Peter Stockmann. Do you really ask me to believe that you are
ignorant of the terms of Mr. Kiil's will?
Dr. Stockmann. I know that the small amount he possesses is to go
to an institution for indigent old workpeople. How does that
Peter Stockmann. In the first place, it is by no means a small
amount that is in question. Mr. Kiil is a fairly wealthy man.
Dr. Stockmann. I had no notion of that!
Peter Stockmann. Hm!--hadn't you really? Then I suppose you had
no notion, either, that a considerable portion of his wealth will
come to your children, you and your wife having a life-rent of
the capital. Has he never told you so?
Dr. Stockmann. Never, on my honour! Quite the reverse; he has
consistently done nothing but fume at being so unconscionably
heavily taxed. But are you perfectly certain of this, Peter?
Peter Stockmann. I have it from an absolutely reliable source.
Dr. Stockmann. Then, thank God, Katherine is provided for--and
the children too! I must tell her this at once--(calls out)
Peter Stockmann (restraining him). Hush, don't say a word yet!
Mrs. Stockmann (opening the door). What is the matter?
Dr, Stockmann. Oh, nothing, nothing; you can go back. (She shuts
the door. DR. STOCKMANN walks up and down in his excitement.)
Provided for!--Just think of it, we are all provided for! And for
life! What a blessed feeling it is to know one is provided for!
Peter Stockmann. Yes, but that is just exactly what you are not.
Mr. Kiil can alter his will any day he likes.
Dr. Stockmann. But he won't do that, my dear Peter. The "Badger"
is much too delighted at my attack on you and your wise friends.
Peter Stockmann (starts and looks intently at him). Ali, that
throws a light on various things.
Dr. Stockmann. What things?
Peter Stockmann. I see that the whole thing was a combined
manoeuvre on your part and his. These violent, reckless attacks
that you have made against the leading men of the town, under the
pretence that it was in the name of truth--
Dr. Stockmann. What about them?
Peter Stockmann. I see that they were nothing else than the
stipulated price for that vindictive old man's will.
Dr. Stockmann (almost speechless). Peter--you are the most
disgusting plebeian I have ever met in all my life.
Peter Stockmann. All is over between us. Your dismissal is
irrevocable--we have a weapon against you now. (Goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann. For shame! For shame! (Calls out.) Katherine, you
must have the floor scrubbed after him! Let--what's her name--
devil take it, the girl who has always got soot on her nose--
Mrs. Stockmann. (in the sitting-room). Hush, Thomas, be quiet!
Petra (coming to the door). Father, grandfather is here, asking
if he may speak to you alone.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly he may. (Going to the door.) Come in,
Mr. Kiil. (MORTEN KIIL comes in. DR. STOCKMANN shuts the door
after him.) What can I do for you? Won't you sit down?
Morten Kiil. I won't sit. (Looks around.) You look very
comfortable here today, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, don't we!
Morten Kiil. Very comfortable--plenty of fresh air. I should
think you have got enough to-day of that oxygen you were talking
about yesterday. Your conscience must be in splendid order to-
day, I should think.
Dr. Stockmann. It is.
Morten Kiil. So I should think. (Taps his chest.) Do you know
what I have got here?
Dr. Stockmann. A good conscience, too, I hope.
Morten Kiil. Bah!--No, it is something better than that. (He
takes a thick pocket-book from his breast-pocket, opens it, and
displays a packet of papers.)
Dr. Stockmann (looking at him in astonishment). Shares in the
Morten Kiil. They were not difficult to get today.
Dr. Stockmann. And you have been buying--?
Morten Kiil. As many as I could pay for.
Dr. Stockmann. But, my dear Mr. Kiil--consider the state of the
Morten Kiil. If you behave like a reasonable man, you can soon
set the Baths on their feet again.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, you can see for yourself that I have done
all I can, but--. They are all mad in this town!
Morten Kiil. You said yesterday that the worst of this pollution
came from my tannery. If that is true, then my grandfather and my
father before me, and I myself, for many years past, have been
poisoning the town like three destroying angels. Do you think I
am going to sit quiet under that reproach?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately I am afraid you will have to.
Morten Kiil. No, thank you. I am jealous of my name and
reputation. They call me "the Badger," I am told. A badger is a
kind of pig, I believe; but I am not going to give them the right
to call me that. I mean to live and die a clean man.
Dr. Stockmann. And how are you going to set about it?
Morten Kiil. You shall cleanse me, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. I!
Morten Kiil. Do you know what money I have bought these shares
with? No, of course you can't know--but I will tell you. It is
the money that Katherine and Petra and the boys will have when I
am gone. Because I have been able to save a little bit after all,
Dr, Stockmann (flaring up). And you have gone and taken
Katherine's money for this!
Morten Kiil. Yes, the whole of the money is invested in the Baths
now. And now I just want to see whether you are quite stark,
staring mad, Thomas! If you still make out that these animals and
other nasty things of that sort come from my tannery, it will be
exactly as if you were to flay broad strips of skin from
Katherine's body, and Petra's, and the boys'; and no decent man
would do that--unless he were mad.
Dr. Stockmann (walking up and down). Yes, but I am mad; I am mad!
Morten Kiil. You cannot be so absurdly mad as all that, when it
is a question of your wife and children.
Dr. Stockmann (standing still in front of him). Why couldn't you
consult me about it, before you went and bought all that trash?
Morten Kiil. What is done cannot be undone.
Dr. Stockmann (walks about uneasily). If only I were not so
certain about it--! But I am absolutely convinced that I am
Morten Kiil (weighing the pocket-book in his hand). If you stick
to your mad idea, this won't be worth much, you know. (Puts the
pocket-book in his pocket.)
Dr. Stockmann. But, hang it all! It might be possible for science
to discover some prophylactic, I should think--or some antidote
of some kind--
Morten Kiil. To kill these animals, do you mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, or to make them innocuous.
Morten Kiil. Couldn't you try some rat's-bane?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't talk nonsense! They all say it is only
imagination, you know. Well, let it go at that! Let them have
their own way about it! Haven't the ignorant, narrow-minded curs
reviled me as an enemy of the people?--and haven't they been
ready to tear the clothes off my back too?
Morten Kiil. And broken all your windows to pieces!
Dr. Stockmann. And then there is my duty to my family. I must
talk it over with Katherine; she is great on those things,
Morten Kiil. That is right; be guided by a reasonable woman's
Dr. Stockmann (advancing towards him). To think you could do such
a preposterous thing! Risking Katherine's money in this way, and
putting me in such a horribly painful dilemma! When I look at
you, I think I see the devil himself--.
Morten Kiil. Then I had better go. But I must have an answer from
you before two o'clock--yes or no. If it is no, the shares go to
a charity, and that this very day.
Dr. Stockmann. And what does Katherine get?
Morten Kiil. Not a halfpenny. (The door leading to the hall
opens, and HOVSTAD and ASLAKSEN make their appearance.) Look at
Dr. Stockmann (staring at them). What the devil!--have YOU
actually the face to come into my house?
Aslaksen. We have something to say to you, you see.
Morten Kiil (in a whisper). Yes or no--before two o'clock.
Aslaksen (glancing at HOVSTAD). Aha! (MORTEN KIIL goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well, what do you want with me? Be brief.
Hovstad. I can quite understand that you are annoyed with us for
our attitude at the meeting yesterday.
Dr. Stockmann. Attitude, do you call it? Yes, it was a charming
attitude! I call it weak, womanish--damnably shameful!
Hovstad. Call it what you like, we could not do otherwise.
Dr. Stockmann. You DARED not do otherwise--isn't that it?
Hovstad. Well, if you like to put it that way.
Aslaksen. But why did you not let us have word of it beforehand?
--just a hint to Mr. Hovstad or to me?
Dr. Stockmann. A hint? Of what?
Aslaksen. Of what was behind it all.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't understand you in the least--
Aslaksen (with a confidential nod). Oh yes, you do, Dr.
Hovstad. It is no good making a mystery of it any longer.
Dr. Stockmann (looking first at one of them and then at the
other). What the devil do you both mean?
Aslaksen. May I ask if your father-in-law is not going round the
town buying up all the shares in the Baths?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, he has been buying Baths shares today; but--
Aslaksen. It would have been more prudent to get someone else to
do it--someone less nearly related to you.
Hovstad. And you should not have let your name appear in the
affair. There was no need for anyone to know that the attack on
the Baths came from you. You ought to have consulted me, Dr.
Dr. Stockmann (looks in front of him; then a light seems to dawn
on him and he says in amazement.) Are such things conceivable?
Are such things possible?
Aslaksen (with a smile). Evidently they are. But it is better to
use a little finesse, you know.
Hovstad. And it is much better to have several persons in a thing
of that sort; because the responsibility of each individual is
lessened, when there are others with him.
Dr. Stockmann (composedly). Come to the point, gentlemen. What do
Aslaksen. Perhaps Mr. Hovstad had better--
Hovstad. No, you tell him, Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. Well, the fact is that, now we know the bearings of the
whole affair, we think we might venture to put the "People's
Messenger" at your disposal.
Dr. Stockmann. Do you dare do that now? What about public
opinion? Are you not afraid of a storm breaking upon our heads?
Hovstad. We will try to weather it.
Aslaksen. And you must be ready to go off quickly on a new tack,
Doctor. As soon as your invective has done its work--
Dr. Stockmann. Do you mean, as soon as my father-in-law and I
have got hold of the shares at a low figure?
Hovstad. Your reasons for wishing to get the control of the Baths
are mainly scientific, I take it.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course; it was for scientific reasons that I
persuaded the old "Badger" to stand in with me in the matter. So
we will tinker at the conduit-pipes a little, and dig up a little
bit of the shore, and it shan't cost the town a sixpence. That
will be all right--eh?
Hovstad. I think so--if you have the "People's Messenger" behind
Aslaksen. The Press is a power in a free community. Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. And so is public opinion. And you, Mr.
Aslaksen--I suppose you will be answerable for the Householders'
Aslaksen. Yes, and for the Temperance Society. You may rely on
Dr. Stockmann. But, gentlemen--I really am ashamed to ask the
question--but, what return do you--?
Hovstad. We should prefer to help you without any return
whatever, believe me. But the "People's Messenger" is in rather a
shaky condition; it doesn't go really well; and I should be very
unwilling to suspend the paper now, when there is so much work to
do here in the political way.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so; that would be a great trial to such a
friend of the people as you are. (Flares up.) But I am an enemy
of the people, remember! (Walks about the room.) Where have I put
my stick? Where the devil is my stick?
Hovstad. What's that?
Aslaksen. Surely you never mean--
Dr. Stockmann (standing still.) And suppose I don't give you a
single penny of all I get out of it? Money is not very easy to
get out of us rich folk, please to remember!
Hovstad. And you please to remember that this affair of the
shares can be represented in two ways!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and you are just the man to do it. If I don't
come to the rescue of the "People's Messenger," you will
certainly take an evil view of the affair; you will hunt me down,
I can well imagine--pursue me--try to throttle me as a dog does a
Hovstad. It is a natural law; every animal must fight for its own
Aslaksen. And get its food where it can, you know.
Dr. Stockmann (walking about the room). Then you go and look for
yours in the gutter; because I am going to show you which is the
strongest animal of us three! (Finds an umbrella and brandishes
it above his head.) Ah, now--!
Hovstad. You are surely not going to use violence!
Aslaksen. Take care what you are doing with that umbrella.
Dr. Stockmann. Out of the window with you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad (edging to the door). Are you quite mad!
Dr. Stockmann. Out of the window, Mr. Aslaksen! Jump, I tell you!
You will have to do it, sooner or later.
Aslaksen (running round the writing-table). Moderation, Doctor--I
am a delicate man--I can stand so little--(calls out) help, help!
(MRS. STOCKMANN, PETRA and HORSTER come in from the sitting-
Mrs. Stockmann. Good gracious, Thomas! What is happening?
Dr. Stockmann (brandishing the umbrella). Jump out, I tell you!
Out into the gutter!
Hovstad. An assault on an unoffending man! I call you to witness,
Captain Horster. (Hurries out through the hall.)
Aslaksen (irresolutely). If only I knew the way about here--.
(Steals out through the sitting-room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (holding her husband back). Control yourself,
Dr. Stockmann (throwing down the umbrella). Upon my soul, they
have escaped after all.
Mrs. Stockmann. What did they want you to do?
Dr. Stockmann. I will tell you later on; I have something else to
think about now. (Goes to the table and writes something on a
calling-card.) Look there, Katherine; what is written there?
Mrs. Stockmann. Three big Noes; what does that mean.
Dr. Stockmann. I will tell you that too, later on. (Holds out the
card to PETRA.) There, Petra; tell sooty-face to run over to the
"Badger's" with that, as quick as she can. Hurry up! (PETRA takes
the card and goes out to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well, I think I have had a visit from every one of
the devil's messengers to-day! But now I am going to sharpen my
pen till they can feel its point; I shall dip it in venom and
gall; I shall hurl my inkpot at their heads!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but we are going away, you know, Thomas.
(PETRA comes back.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Petra. She has gone with it.
Dr. Stockmann. Good.--Going away, did you say? No, I'll be hanged
if we are going away! We are going to stay where we are,
Petra. Stay here?
Mrs. Stockmann. Here, in the town?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, here. This is the field of battle--this is
where the fight will be. This is where I shall triumph! As soon
as I have had my trousers sewn up I shall go out and look for
another house. We must have a roof over our heads for the winter.
Horster. That you shall have in my house.
Dr. Stockmann. Can I?
Horsier. Yes, quite well. I have plenty of room, and I am almost
never at home.
Mrs. Stockmann. How good of you, Captain Horster!
Petra. Thank you!
Dr. Stockmann (grasping his hand). Thank you, thank you! That is
one trouble over! Now I can set to work in earnest at once. There
is an endless amount of things to look through here, Katherine!
Luckily I shall have all my time at my disposal; because I have
been dismissed from the Baths, you know.
Mrs. Stockmann (with a sigh). Oh yes, I expected that.
Dr. Stockmann. And they want to take my practice away from me
too. Let them! I have got the poor people to fall back upon,
anyway--those that don't pay anything; and, after all, they need
me most, too. But, by Jove, they will have to listen to me; I
shall preach to them in season and out of season, as it says
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, I should have thought events
had showed you what use it is to preach.
Dr. Stockmann. You are really ridiculous, Katherine. Do you want
me to let myself be beaten off the field by public opinion and
the compact majority and all that devilry? No, thank you! And
what I want to do is so simple and clear and straightforward. I
only want to drum into the heads of these curs the fact that the
liberals are the most insidious enemies of freedom--that party
programmes strangle every young and vigorous truth--that
considerations of expediency turn morality and justice upside
down--and that they will end by making life here unbearable.
Don't you think, Captain Horster, that I ought to be able to make
people understand that?
Horster. Very likely; I don't know much about such things myself.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, look here--I will explain! It is the party
leaders that must be exterminated. A party leader is like a wolf,
you see--like a voracious wolf. He requires a certain number of
smaller victims to prey upon every year, if he is to live. Just
look at Hovstad and Aslaksen! How many smaller victims have they
not put an end to--or at any rate maimed and mangled until they
are fit for nothing except to be householders or subscribers to
the "People's Messenger"! (Sits down on the edge of the table.)
Come here, Katherine--look how beautifully the sun shines to-day!
And this lovely spring air I am drinking in!
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, if only we could live on sunshine and spring
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you will have to pinch and save a bit--then we
shall get along. That gives me very little concern. What is much
worse is, that I know of no one who is liberal-minded and high-
minded enough to venture to take up my work after me.
Petra. Don't think about that, father; you have plenty of time
before you.--Hello, here are the boys already!
(EJLIF and MORTEN come in from the sitting-room.)
Mrs. Stockmann. Have you got a holiday?
Morten. No; but we were fighting with the other boys between
Ejlif. That isn't true; it was the other boys were fighting with
Morten. Well, and then Mr. Rorlund said we had better stay at
home for a day or two.
Dr. Stockmann (snapping his fingers and getting up from the
table). I have it! I have it, by Jove! You shall never set foot
in the school again!
The Boys. No more school!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas--
Dr. Stockmann. Never, I say. I will educate you myself; that is
to say, you shan't learn a blessed thing--
Dr. Stockmann. --but I will make liberal-minded and high-minded
men of you. You must help me with that, Petra.
Petra, Yes, father, you may be sure I will.
Dr. Stockmann. And my school shall be in the room where they
insulted me and called me an enemy of the people. But we are too
few as we are; I must have at least twelve boys to begin with.
Mrs. Stockmann. You will certainly never get them in this town.
Dr. Stockmann. We shall. (To the boys.) Don't you know any street
Morten. Yes, father, I know lots!
Dr. Stockmann. That's capital! Bring me some specimens of them. I
am going to experiment with curs, just for once; there may be
some exceptional heads among them.
Morten. And what are we going to do, when you have made liberal-
minded and high-minded men of us?
Dr. Stockmann. Then you shall drive all the wolves out of the
country, my boys!
(EJLIF looks rather doubtful about it; MORTEN jumps about crying
Mrs. Stockmann. Let us hope it won't be the wolves that will
drive you out of the country, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you out of your mind, Katherine? Drive me out!
Now--when I am the strongest man in the town!
Mrs. Stockmann. The strongest--now?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and I will go so far as to say that now I am
the strongest man in the whole world.
Morten. I say!
Dr. Stockmann (lowering his voice). Hush! You mustn't say
anything about it yet; but I have made a great discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. Another one?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. (Gathers them round him, and says
confidentially:) It is this, let me tell you--that the strongest
man in the world is he who stands most alone.
Mrs. Stockmann (smiling and shaking her head). Oh, Thomas,
Petra (encouragingly, as she grasps her father's hands). Father!
End of Project Gutenberg's of An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen