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majority. Yes, it's the confounded, compact, liberal
majority ! There, I've told you !

{Immense disturbance in the room. Most of the
audience are shoutings stamping, and whistling.
Several elderly gentlemen exchange furtive
glances and seem to be enjoying the scene. Mrs.
Stockman n rises nervously. Eilif and
MORTEN advance threateningly towards the
sc/iool-boys y who are making a noise. ASLAK-
SEN rings the bell and calls for order.
HOVSTAD and BILLING both speak, but nothing
can be heard. At last quiet is restored?)
ASLAKSEN. I request the speaker to withdraw his
ill-considered expressions.

Dr. Stockman n. Never, Mr. Aslaksen ! For it's
this very majority that robs me of my freedom, and
wants to forbid me to speak the truth

HOVSTAD. Right is always on the side of the
majority.

BILLING. Yes, and truth too, strike me dead !

Dr. Stockman N. The majority is never right.

Never, I say ! That's one of the social lies a free,

thinking man is bound to rebel against. Who make

up the majority in any given country? Is it the wise



198 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

men or the fools ? I think we must agree that the fools
are in a terrible, overwhelming majority, all the
wide world over. But how the deuce can it ever be
right for the fools to rule over the wise men ? {Noise
and sfwuts.) Yes yes, you can shout me down, but
you cannot gainsay me. The majority has might —
unhappily — but right it has not I and the few,
the individuals, are right The minority is always
right

{Renewed disturbances.)

HOVSTAD. Ha ha! So Dr. Stockmann has turned
aristocrat since the day before yesterday.

Dr. Stockmann. I have said that I won't waste
a word on the little, narrow-chested, short-winded
crew that lie in our wake. Pulsating life has nothing
more to do with them. I will rather speak of the
few individuals among us who have made all the new,
germinating truths their own. These men stand, as
it were, at the outposts, so far in the van that the com-
pact majority has not yet reached them — and there
they fight for truths that are too lately born into the
world's consciousness to have won over the majority.

HOVSTAD. So the Doctor's a revolutionist now.

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, by Heaven, I am, Mr.
Hovstad ! I'm going to revolt against the lie that
truth resides in the majority. What sort of truths do
the majority rally round ? Truths that are decrepit
with age. When a truth is so old as that it's in a fair
way to become a lie, gentlemen. {Laughter and jeers.)
Yes yes, you may believe me or not, as you please ;
but truths are by no means the wiry Methusalehs
some people think them. A normally-constituted



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 199

truth lives — let me say — as a rule, seventeen or eigh-
teen years ; at the outside twenty ; seldom longer.
And truths so stricken in years are always shockingly
thin ; yet it's not till then that the majority takes them
up and recommends them to society as wholesome
food. I can assure you there's not much nutriment
in that sort of fare ; you may take my word as
a doctor for that. All these majority-truths are like
last year's salt pork ; they're like rancid, mouldy ham,
producing all the moral scurvy that devastates society.

ASLAKSEN. It seems to me that the honourable
speaker is wandering rather far from the subject.

Burgomaster. I beg to endorse the Chairman's
remark.

Dr. Stockmann. Why you're surely mad, Peter!
I'm keeping as closely to my text as I possibly can,
for my text is just this — that the masses, the majority,
that confounded compact majority — it's that, I say,
that's poisoning our spiritual life at its source, and
making a plague-spot of the ground beneath our feet.

Hovstad. And you make this charge against
the great, independent majority, just because they're
sensible enough to accept only certain and acknow-
ledged truths ?

Dr. Stockmann. Ah, my dear Mr. Hovstad,
don't talk about certain truths ! The truths acknow-
ledged by the masses, the multitude, were certain
truths to the vanguard in our grandfathers' days. We,
the vanguard of to-day, don't acknowledge them any
longer ; and I don't believe there's any other certain
truth but this — that no society can live a healthy life
upon such old, marrowless truths as these.



200 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

HOVSTAD. But instead of all this vague talk,
suppose you were to give us some specimens of these
old marrowless truths that we're living upon.
{Approval from several quarters.)

Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I can't go over the whole
rubbish-heap ; so, for the present, I'll keep to one
acknowledged truth, which is a hideous lie at bottom,
but which Mr. Hovstad, and the Messenger, and all
adherents of the Messenger, live on all the same.

Hovstad. And that is ?

Dr. Stockmann. That is the doctrine you've
inherited from our forefathers, and go on heedlessly
proclaiming far and wide — the doctrine that the
multitude, the vulgar herd, the masses, are the pith
of the people — that they are the people — that the
common man, the ignorant, undeveloped member
of society, has the same right to condemn and to
sanction, to counsel and to govern, as the intellectually
distinguished few.

BILLING. Well, now, strike me dead !

HOVSTAD {shouting at the same time). Citizens,
please note that !

Angry Voices. Ho-ho ! Aren't we the people ?
Is it only the grand folks that arc to govern ?

A Working Man. Turn out the fellow that talks
like that!

Others. Turn him out !

A Citizen {shouting). Now for your horn,
Kvensen.

{The deep notes of a horn are heard ; whistling,
and terrific noise in the room.)

Dr. Stockmann {when the noise has somewhat



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 201

subsided). Now do be reasonable ! Can't you bear to
hear the voice of truth for once ? I don't ask you all
to agree with me straight away. But I certainly
should have thought that Mr. Hovstad would have
backed me up, when he'd collected himself a bit.
Mr. Hovstad calls himself a free-thinker

SEVERAL VOICES {subdued and zvondering). Free-
thinker, did he say? What? Mr. Hovstad a free-
thinker ?

Hovstad {shouting). Prove it, Dr. Stockmann !
When have I said so in print ?

Dr. Stockmann {reflecting). No, on my soul
you're right there ; you've never had the frankness to
do that Well, I won't get you into a scrape, Mr.
Hovstad. Let me be the free-thinker then. And
now I'll make it clear to you all, and on scientific
grounds, that the Messenger is leading you shamefully
by the nose, when it tells you that you, the masses,
the crowd, are the true pith of the people. You see
that's only a newspaper lie. The masses are nothing
but the raw material that must be fashioned into the
People. {Murmurs, laughter, and disturbance in the
room.) Is it not so with all other living creatures ?
What a difference between a cultivated and an un-
cultivated breed of animals ! Only look at a common
barn-door hen. What meat do you get from such a
skinny carcase? Not much, I can tell you! And what
sort of eggs does she lay ? A decent crow or raven can
lay nearly as good. Then take a cultivated Spanish or
Japanese hen, or take a fine pheasant or turkey — ah !
then you'll see the difference. And now look at the
dog, our near relation. Think first of an ordinary



202 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

vulgar cur — I mean one of those wretched, ragged,
low mongrels that haunt the gutters, and soil the
side-walks. Then place such a mongrel by the side
of a poodle-dog, descended through many generations
from an aristocratic strain, who has lived on delicate
food, and has heard harmonious voices and music
Do you think the brain of the poodle hasn't developed
quite differently from that of the mongrel ? Yes, you
may be sure it has ! It's well-bred poodle-pups like
this that jugglers train to perform the most extra-
ordinary tricks. A common peasant-cur could never
learn anything of the sort — not if he tried till
doomsday.

{Noise and laughter are heard all round.)

A Citizen {shouting). Do you want to make dogs
of us now?

Another Man. We're not animals, Doctor.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Yes, on my soul, but we arc
animals, my good sir ! We're one and all of us
animals, whether we like it or not But truly there
aren't many aristocratic animals among us. Ah !
there's a terrible difference between men-poodles and
men-mongrels. And the ridiculous part of it is, that
Mr. Hovstad quite agrees with me so long as it's four-
legged animals we're talking of

Hovstad. Oh, let them alone.

Dr. Stockman n. All right — but so soon as I
apply the law to two-legged animals, Mr. Hovstad
stops short ; then he daren't hold his own opinions,
or think out his own thoughts ; then he turns all his
knowledge topsy-turvy, and proclaims in the People's
Messenger that barn-door hens and gutter mongrels



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 203

are precisely the finest specimens in the menagerie.
But that's always the way, so long as you haven't
worked the commonness out of your system, and
fought your way up to spiritual distinction.

Hovstad. I make no pretensions to any sort of
distinction. I come of simple peasant stock, and I'm
proud that my root lies deep down among the com-
mon people, who are now being jeered at.

Several Workmen. Hurrah for Hovstad!
Hurrah ! hurrah !

Dr. Stockmann. The sort of common people
I'm speaking of are not found among the lower
classes alone ; they crawl and swarm all around us —
up to the very summits of society. Just look at your
own smug, respectable Burgomaster! Why, my
brother Peter belongs as clearly to the common people

as any man that walks on two legs

{Laughter and hisses.)

Burgomaster. I protest against such per-
sonalities.

Dr. STOCKMANN {imperturbably). and that not

because, like myself, he's descended from a good-for-
nothing old pirate from Pomerania, or thereabouts —
for that's our ancestry

Burgomaster. An absurd tradition! Utterly
groundless.

Dr. Stockmann. but he is so because he

thinks the thoughts and holds the opinions of his
official superiors. Men who do that belong, intellec-
tually-speaking, to the mob ; and that's why my
distinguished brother Peter is at bottom so undis-
tinguished, — and consequently so illiberal.



204 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.
Burgomaster. Mr. Chairman



Hovstad. So that the distinguished people in this
country are the liberals ? That's quite a new light on
the subject. {Laughter.)

Dr. Stockman H. Yes, that's part of my new
discovery. And this, too, follows, that liberality of
thought is almost precisely the same thing as morality.
Therefore I say it's altogether unpardonable of the
Messenger to proclaim day after day the false doctrine
that it's the masses, the multitude, the compact
majority, that monopolise liberality and morality, —
and that vice and corruption and all sorts of spiritual
uncleanness ooze out of culture, as all that filth oozes
down to the Baths from the Mill Dale tan-works !
{Noise and interruptions. Dr. STOCKMANN goes on
imperturbably, smiling in his eagerness?) And yet
this same Messenger can preach about raising the
masses and the multitude to a higher level of life!
Why, deuce take it, if the Messenger's own doctrine
holds good, the elevation of the masses would simply
mean hurling them into destruction ! But, happily,
it's only an old traditional lie that culture demoralises.
No, it's stupidity, poverty, the ugliness of life, that
do the devil's work ! In a house that isn't aired and
swept every day — my wife Katrine maintains that the
floors ought to be scrubbed too, but we can't discuss
that now ; — well, — in such a house, I say, within two
or three years, people lose the power of thinking
or acting morally. Lack of oxygen enervates the
conscience. And there seems to be precious little
oxygen in many and many a house in this town, since
the whole compact majority is unscrupulous enough



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 205

to want to found its future upon a quagmire of lies
and fraud.

ASLAKSEN. I cannot allow so gross an insult to
be levelled against the whole body of citizens.

A Gentleman. I move that the Chairman order
the speaker to sit down.

Eager Voices. Yes, yes, that's right ! Sit down !
Sit down !

Dr. Stockman n {flaring up). Then I'll proclaim
the truth at every street corner ! I'll write to news-
papers in other towns ! The whole land shall know
how things go on here !

HOVSTAD. It would almost seem as if the Doctor
wanted to ruin the town.

Dr. Stockman n. Yes, I love my native town so
well, I would rather ruin it than see it flourishing
upon a lie.

ASLAKSEN. That's putting it strongly.

{Noise and whistling. Mrs. Stockmann coughs
in vain ; the DOCTOR no longer heeds her.)

HOVSTAD (shouting amid the tumult). The man
who would ruin a whole community must be an
enemy to his fellow-citizens !

Dr. Stockmann (with growing exciteme?if). What
does it matter if a lying community is ruined ! It
should be levelled to the ground, I say! All men
who live upon lies should be exterminated like
vermin ! You'll poison the whole country in time ;
you'll bring it to such a pass that the whole country
will deserve to perish. And if it ever comes to that,
I shall say, from the bottom of my heart : Perish the
country ! Perish all its people !



206 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

A Man (in the crowd). Why, he talks like a
regular enemy of the people !

Billing. Strike me dead but there spoke the
people's voice !

The Whole Assembly (shouting). Yes! yes!
yes ! He's an enemy of the people ! He hates his
country ! He hates the people !

ASLAKSEN. Both as a citizen of this town and as
a man, I am deeply shocked at what I have here had
to listen to. Dr. Stockmann has unmasked himself
in a manner I should never have dreamt of. I am
reluctantly forced to subscribe to the opinion just
expressed by some worthy citizens ; and I think we
ought to formulate this opinion in a resolution. I
therefore beg to move, " That this meeting declares
the medical officer of the Baths, Dr. Thomas Stock-
mann, to be an enemy of the people."

(Thunders of applause and cheers. Many form a
circle round the DOCTOR and Jtoot at him. MRS.
Stockmann a?id Fetra have risen. Morten
and ElLIF fight the other school-boys, who Jtave
also been hooti?ig. Some grown-up persons
separate them.)

Dr. Stockmann (to the people hooting). Ah ! fools
that you are ! I tell you that

ASLAKSEN (ringing). The Doctor is out of order
in speaking. A formal vote must be taken ; but out
of consideration for personal feelings, it will be taken
in writing and without names. Have you any blank
paper, Mr. Billing ?

BILLING. Here's both blue and white paper

ASLAKSEN. That'll do; we can manage more



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 207

quickly this way. Tear it up. That's it. (To the
meeting?) Blue means no, white means yes. I my-
self will go round and collect the votes.

( The Burgomaster leaves the room. Aslaksen
and a few others go round with pieces of paper
in hats?)

A Gentleman {to Hovstad). What can be the
matter with the Doctor ? What does it all mean ?

Hovstad. Why, you know how irrepressible he is.

Another Gentleman (to Billing). I say,
you're often at his house. Have you ever noticed
if the fellow drinks ?

BILLING. Strike me dead if I know what to say.
Toddy's always on the table when any one looks in.

A Third Gentleman. No, I should rather say
he was subject to fits of insanity.

First Gentleman. I wonder if madness runs in
the family ?

Billing. I shouldn't be surprised.

A Fourth Gentleman. No, it's pure malice.
He wants to be revenged for something.

BILLING. He was certainly talking about a rise in
his salary the other day ; but he didn't get it.

All the Gentlemen (together). Ah ! that
explains everything.

The Drunken Man (in the crowd). I want a
blue one, I do ! And I'll have a white one too !

Several People. There's the tipsy man again !
Turn him out !

MORTEN KlIL (approaching the DOCTOR). Well,
Stockmann, you see now what this tomfoolery
leads to !



2o3 An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

Dr. Stockmann. I've done my duty.

Morten Kiil. What was that you said about
the Mill Dale tanneries?

Dr. Stockmann. Why, you heard what I said —
that all the filth comes from them.

Morten Kiil. From my tannery as well ?

Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately, yours is about
the worst of all.

Morten Kiil. Are you going to put that into
the papers too ?

Dr. Stockmann. I can't keep anything back.

MORTEN KlIL. That may cost you dear, Stock-
mann !

(He goes out.)

A Fat Gentleman (goes up to Horster, with-
out bowing to the ladies). Well, Captain, so you lend
your house to enemies of the people ?

Horster. I suppose I can do as I please with my
own, Sir.

The Gentleman. Then of course you can have
no objection if I follow your example ?

Horster. What do you mean, Sir?

The Gentleman. You shall hear from me to-
morrow.

(Turns away a?id goes out.)

PETRA. Wasn't that the owner of your ship ?

HORSTER. Yes, that was Mr. Vik.

ASLAKSEN (with the voting papers in his hands,
ascends the platform and rings). Gentlemen ! I have
now to announce the result of the vote. All, with one
exception

A Young Gentleman. That's the tipsy man !



Act IV.] An Enemy of the People. 209

ASLAKSEN. With the exception of one intoxicated
person, this meeting of citizens declares the medical
officer of the Baths, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, to
be an enemy of the people. {Cheers and applause?}
Three cheers for our fine old municipality! (Cheers?)
Three cheers for our able and energetic Burgo-
master, who has so loyally put aside the claims
of kindred ! (Cheers?) The meeting is dissolved.
(He descends?)

Billing. Three cheers for the Chairman !

All. Hurrah for Aslaksen !

Dr. Stockmann. My hat and coat, Petra !
Captain, have you room for passengers to the new
world ?

HORSTER. For you and yours, Doctor, we'll make
room.

Dr. Stockmann {while Petra helps him on with
his coat). Good ! Come, Katrine ! come, boys !
(He gives his wife his arm.)

Mrs. Stockmann (in a low voice). Dear Thomas,
let us go out by the back way.

Dr. Stockmann. No back ways, Katrine! (In
a loud voice.) You shall hear from the enemy of the
people before he shakes the dust from his feet ! I'm
not so good-natured as a certain person ; I don't say :
I forgive you, for you know not what you do.

Aslaksen (shouts). That is a blasphemous com-
parison, Dr. Stockmann !

Billing. Strike me That's more than a

serious man can stand !

A Coarse Voice. And he threatens us into the
bargain !

VOL. II. 14



2 to An Enemy of the People. [Act IV.

Angry Cries. Let's smash his windows ! Duck
him in the fiord !

A Man (in the crowd). Blow your horn, Evensen !
Blow man, blow !

(Horn-blowing, whistling, and wild shouting. The

DOCTOR, with his family^ goes towards the

door. HORSTER clears the way for them.)

ALL {shouting after them as they go out). Enemy of

the people ! Enemy of the people ! Enemy of the

people !

BILLING. Strike me dead if I'd care to drink-
toddy at Stockmann's to-night

(The people throng towards the door ; the noise
passes gradually farther away ; from the street
are heard cries of " Enemy of the people ! Enemy
of the people!")



Act V.] An Enemy of the People. 211



Act Fifth.



(Dr. Stockmann's Study. Bookshelves and glass cases with
various collections along the walls. In the back, a door
leading to the anteroom; in front, on the left, a door to the
sitting-roo?n. In the wall to the right are two windows, all
the paftes of which are smashed. In the ?niddle of the room is
the Doctor's writing-table, covered with books and papers.
The room is in disorder. It is forenoon.}

(Dr. Stockmann, in dressing-gown, slippers, and skull-cap, is
bending down and raking with an wnbrella under one of the
cabinets j at last he rakes out a stone?)

Dr. Stockmann {speaking through the sitting-room
doorway). Katrine, I've found another !

Mrs. Stockmann (in the sitting-room). Oh, you'll
find plenty more.

Dr. Stockmann (placing the stone on a pile of
others on the table). I shall keep these stones as
sacred relics. Eilif and Morten shall see them every
day, and when I die they shall be heirlooms. (Poking
tinder the bookcase?) Hasn't — what the devil is her
name ? — the girl — hasn't she been for the glazier yet ?

Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Yes, but he said
he didn't know whether he'd be able to come to-day.

Dr. Stockmann. You'll see he daren't come.

Mrs. Stockmann. Well, Randine had an idea
he was afraid to come, because of the neighbours.



212 An Enemy of the People. [Act V.

{Speaks through the sitting-room doorway.) What is it,
Randine? — All right {Goes out and returns imme-
diately^) Here's a letter for you, Thomas.

Dr. Stockman n. Let's see. {Opens the letter and
reads?) Aha !

MRS. STOCKMANN. Who's it from ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. From the landlord. He gives
us notice.

Mrs. Stockmann. Is it possible? Such a nice
man as that

Dr. Stockmann {looking at the letter). He daren't
do otherwise, he says. He's very loath to do it ; but
he daren't do otherwise — on account of his fellow-
citizens — out of respect for public opinion — is in a
dependent position — doesn't dare to offend certain
influential men

Mrs. Stockmann. There, you see, Thomas.

Dr. Stockmann. Yes yes, I see well enough ;
they're all cowards, every one of them, in this town ;
no one dares do anything for fear of all the rest
{Throws the letter on the table?) But it's all the same
to us, Katrine. We'll be off to the new world, and
then

Mrs. Stockmann. But are you sure this idea of
going abroad is altogether wise, Thomas ?

Dr. Stockmann. Would you have me stay here
where they have pilloried me as an enemy of the
people, branded me, smashed my windows ! And
look here, Katrine, they've torn a hole in my black
trousers.

Mrs. Stockmann. Oh dear, and they're your best
too!



Act V.] An Enemy of the People. 213

Dr. STOCKMANN. One should never put on his
best trousers to go out to battle for freedom and
truth. Of course, I don't care much about the
trousers ; you can always patch them up for me.
But that the mob should dare to attack me as if
they were my equals — that's what I can't stomach,
for the life of me.

Mrs. Stockman n. Yes, they've behaved abom-
inably to you here, Thomas ; but is that any reason
for leaving the country altogether ?

Dr. Stockman n. Do you think the plebeians
aren't just as insolent in other towns ? Oh yes, they
are, my dear; they're pretty much of a muchness
everywhere. Well, never mind, let the curs snap ;
thafs not the worst ; the worst is that every one,
all over the country, is the slave of his party. Not
that I suppose — very likely it's no better in the free
West either ; the compact majority, and enlightened
public opinion, and all the other devil's trash is
rampant there too. But you see the conditions are
larger there than here ; they may kill you, but they
don't slow-torture you ; they don't put the screw on
a free soul there, as they do at home here. And then,
if need be, you can hold aloof from it all. ( Walks up
and down?) If I only knew of any primeval forest,
or a little South Sea island to be sold cheap

Mrs. Stockman n. Yes, but the boys, Thomas.

Dr. STOCKMANN {comes to a standstill). What
an extraordinary woman you are, Katrine ! Would
you prefer the boys to grow up in such a society as
ours? Why, you saw yourself yesterday evening
that one-half of the population is stark mad, and if



214 An Enemy of the People. [Act V.

the other half hasn't lost its reason, that's only because
they're hounds who haven't any reason to lose.

MRS. STOCKMANN. But really, my dear Thomas,
you do say such imprudent things !

Dr. STOCKMANN. Well, but isn't it the truth
that I tell them ? Don't they turn all ideas upside
down ? Don't they stir up right and wrong in one
hotch-potch ? Don't they call lies what I know to be
truth ? But the maddest thing of all is to see crowds
of grown men, calling themselves Liberals, go about
persuading themselves and others that they are friends
of freedom ! Did you ever hear anything like it,
Katrine ?

Mrs. STOCKMANN. Yes, yes, no doubt it's all

wrong together. But (Petra enters from the

sitting-room^) Back from school already ?

Petra. Yes ; I've been dismissed.

MRS. STOCKMANN. Dismissed ?

Dr. Stockmann. You too!

Petra. Mrs. Busk gave me notice, and so I
thought it best to leave there and then.

Dr. Stockmann. Quite right, my girl !

Mrs. Stockmann. Who could have thought Mrs.
Busk was such a bad woman ?


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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenGhost: An enemy of the people: The wild duck → online text (page 11 of 21)