AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE: ACT V


I like Thomas Stockmann's line:

"You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth."

I am not sure I know what he means, but I think it is a good line.

In this chapter I think the heart of the matter comes when Morten Kiil makes his offer to Stockmann. For the first time there is a hint that maybe Stockmann doesn't have an impregnable position.

"If only I were not so certain about it -! But I am absolutely convinced that I am right."

"But, hang it all! It might be possible for science to discover some prophylactic, I should thing - or some antidote of some kind."

But that is not to be, so let us let that thread go, and return to it later when we look at some alternative ways that this story might have gone.

Thomas Stockman's last discovery is perhaps the most poignant.

"It is this, let me tell you - that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone."

Of course his family stands with him. But, the sentiment has a good deal of validity. If you do want to start a revolution or a paradigm shift, you may well have to do it alone, because when you work with others in a political environment, you have to compromise, and revolutions don't come from compromise.

In the end Thomas Stockmann failed, or at least as far as the story goes, to close the contaminated baths. Of course Ibsen did not write his play about how to get the baths fixed. He wrote about the relationship between individuals, and with the compact majority.

So, let's you and I go back and see what we can do about the problem of the baths. The lessons of Ibsen's play should give us some pretty good ideas about what not to do.

Link to A Friend of the People.