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Title: An Enemy of the People
Author: Ibsen, Henrik
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Enemy of the People" ***


A play in five acts


Henrik Ibsen

Translated by R. Farquharson Sharp




  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."
  Billing, sub-editor.
  Captain Horster.
  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,



(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—remarkably good.

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

Mrs. Stockmann. Oh well, as long as you are enjoying it—. (Turns to
the hall door, listening.) I expect that is Mr. Hovstad coming too.

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 something, too?

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 are

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. 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.

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.

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 Baths.

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 enterprise.

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

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-room.)

Peter Stockmann (lowering his voice a little). It is a curious thing
that these farmers' sons never seem to lose their want of tact.

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

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 drinking.

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 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

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

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 the

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

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 the Baths—

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

Dr. Stockmann. Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your backs?

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 community's welfare.

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 you. Good-bye.

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 again?

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 him.

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 situation.

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 it.

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?

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 on?

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

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 me

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 anxiously,

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 again?

Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, your lamp is already lit on your desk.

Dr. Stockmann. Good, good. Excuse me for a moment—, (Goes into his

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 today?

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 see.

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 it.

Billing. Do you like that?

Petra. Yes, because one sleeps so well then.

Morten. You must be dreadfully wicked, Petra.

Petra. Wicked?

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 that!

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, Mr.

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 such

Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; but I don't like it.

Petra. But you know, mother, I think you really are wrong about it.

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

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 us?

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 hand.)

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.

Hovstad. Really?

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

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?

Hovstad. Certainly.

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 pamphlets...

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 shore too—

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

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-room.)

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 to light.

Hovstad. Will you let me print a short note about your discovery in the

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

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 murmur) H'm!—

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
morning visits.

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 it?

Morten Kiil (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

Morten Kiil (suppressing his laughter). A bit of luck for the town?

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 this!

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, wasn't it?

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, probably.

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 like

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

(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 go.

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 last

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 things.

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 knowledge.

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, anyway.

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.) Yes,

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,

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 demonstration.

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, Mr.

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'

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 temperance

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 think!

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.

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

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 step.

Dr. Stockmann, Yes, but Aslaksen seemed to me so thoroughly

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 municipal voter.

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

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, Doctor.

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, father!

Dr. Stockmann. And for one's own native town into the bargain, my child!

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 it—

Peter Stockmann. Then you mean that you are absolutely certain now?

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 again!

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 to be.

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 reasonable expenditure.

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 public.

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 about it.

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 already has.

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 to do.

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

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

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

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 brother—

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—?

Petra. Father—dismissed!

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' affairs.

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 town.

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, father!

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 of that!

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 side.

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 should think!

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

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

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

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 speak.)


(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 hand.)

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 hear you.

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 article in?

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 pretty

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, Doctor! Well?

Dr. Stockmann. You may set to work and print it, Mr. Hovstad!

Hovstad. Has it come to that, then?

Billing. Hurrah!

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

Hovstad. Four or five more articles, did you say? On the same subject?

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, exactly.

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, very

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

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 the public—

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 sacred convictions.

Billing. That is too much—I'm damned if it isn't.

Hovstad. Oh, you mustn't be surprised at anything from that quarter.

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 moderation.

Billing. Not a bit of it, not a bit of it! Don't spare the dynamite!

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

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—goodbye, goodbye! (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 contradicting

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 protect!

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.

Billing. I—!

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, then—

Billing. Suppose you were to apply to Dr. Stockmann?

Hovstad (turning over some papers). What is the use? He has got nothing.

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

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

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 chance?

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; but—

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 readers

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.

Petra. Billing's!

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 heart?

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-never!

Hovstad. You ought not to speak so bitterly, Miss Petra—least of all

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? For

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 awkward—

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 nice

Hovstad. Oh—

Peter Stockmann. And here I come, without any notice, to take up your

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, Mr. Hovstad.

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 Baths.

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 copy.

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 of!

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. Mayor—

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.

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
everywhere else.

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 town—

Aslaksen. What?

Hovstad. Self-sacrifice?

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 than I.

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 municipal

Hovstad (getting up). Surely you never mean that the town must pay—?

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 for them.

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 least.

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?

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, Doctor.

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 print.

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 town—

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! Doctor, I won't conceal from you the fact—

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 on foot—

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 town!

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.

Aslaksen. What!

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

Aslaksen Good Lord!

Hovstad. Ahem!

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 Householders' Association—

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 now,

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 newspapers.

Dr. Stockmann (composedly). And I have all these influences against me?

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 untimely end.

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 "People's

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 printed.

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 the town.

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 truth!

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-corner.

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 with you.

Billing. No, I'm damned if you will.

Mrs. Stockmann. Don't give in, Thomas. I will tell the boys to go with

Dr. Stockmann. That is a splendid idea!

Mrs. Stockmann. Morten will be delighted; and Ejlif will do whatever he

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

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 here

2nd Citizen. Dr. Stockmann is going to deliver an address attacking the

4th Citizen. But the Mayor is his brother.

1st Citizen. That doesn't matter; Dr. Stockmann's not the chap to be

3rd Citizen. But he is in the wrong; it said so in the “People’s

2nd Citizen. Yes, I expect he must be in the wrong this time, because neither
the Householders’ Association nor the Citizens’ Club would lend him
their hall for his meeting.

1st Citizen. He couldn’t even get the loan of the hall at the Baths.

2nd Citizen. No, I should think not.

A Man in another part of the crowd. I say—who are we to back up in this?

Another Man, beside him. Watch Aslaksen, and do as he does.

Billing (pushing his way through the crowd, with a writing-case under his arm).
Excuse me, gentlemen—do you mind letting me through? I am reporting for the
“People’s Messenger.” Thank you very much! (He sits down at
the table on the left.)

A Workman. Who was that?

Second Workman. Don’t you know him? It’s Billing, who writes for
Aslaksen’s paper.

(CAPTAIN HORSTER brings in MRS. STOCKMANN and PETRA through the door on the
right. EJLIF and MORTEN follow them in.)

Horster. I thought you might all sit here; you can slip out easily from here,
if things get too lively.

Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think there will be a disturbance?

Horster. One can never tell—with such a crowd. But sit down, and don’t
be uneasy.

Mrs. Stockmann (sitting down). It was extremely kind of you to offer my husband
the room.

Horster. Well, if nobody else would—

Petra (who has sat down beside her mother). And it was a plucky thing to do,
Captain Horster.

Horster. Oh, it is not such a great matter as all that.

(HOVSTAD and ASLAKSEN make their way through the crowd.)

Aslaksen (going up to HORSTER). Has the Doctor not come yet?

Horster. He is waiting in the next room. (Movement in the crowd by the door
at the back.)

Hovstad. Look—here comes the Mayor!

Billing. Yes, I’m damned if he hasn’t come after all!

(PETER STOCKMANN makes his way gradually through the crowd, bows courteously,
and takes up a position by the wall on the left. Shortly afterwards Dr.
STOCKMANN comes in by the right-hand door. He is dressed in a black
frock-coat, with a white tie. There is a little feeble applause, which is
hushed down. Silence is obtained.)

Dr. Stockmann (in an undertone). How do you feel, Katherine?

Mrs. Stockmann. All right, thank you. (Lowering her voice.) Be sure not to lose
your temper, Thomas.

Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I know how to control myself.

(Looks at his watch, steps on to the platform, and bows. It is a quarter
past—so I will begin. (Takes his MS. out of his pocket).

Aslaksen. I think we ought to elect a chairman first.

Dr. Stockmann. No, it is quite unnecessary.

Some of the Crowd. Yes—yes!

Peter Stockmann. I certainly think too that we ought to have a chairman.

Dr. Stockmann. But I have called this meeting to deliver a lecture, Peter.

Peter Stockmann. Dr. Stockmann’s lecture may possibly lead to a
considerable conflict of opinion.

Voices in the Crowd. A chairman! A chairman !

Hovstad. The general wish of the meeting seems to be that a chairman should be

Dr. Stockmann (restraining himself). Very well—let the meeting have its way.

Aslaksen. Will the Mayor be good enough to undertake the task ?

Three Men (clapping their hands). Bravo! Bravo!

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. Aslaksen.

Several voices. Yes—Aslaksen! Bravo Aslaksen!

(DR. STOCKMANN takes up his MS. and walks up and down the platform.)

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

(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 affairs—

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

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 his head.

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

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 meeting.

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 soil.

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

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
eider-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 coughs persistently.)

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 vermin—. (Uproar.)

Peter Stockmann. Mr. Chairman, can we allow such expressions to pass?

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 restored.)

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! (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

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 freethinker—

Voices (in murmurs of astonishment). Freethinker, did he say? Is
Hovstad a freethinker?

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

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 cries.)

A Citizen (calls out). Are you going to make out we are dogs, now?

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

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 kind.

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-minded.

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! (Laughter.)

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 deceit.

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 down.

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

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

Voices from the crowd. That is talking like an out-and-out enemy of the

Billing. There sounded the voice of the people, by all that's holy!

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 them.)

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. 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 it is!

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 Molledal?

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

Horster. I imagine I can do what I like with my own possessions, Mr.

The Stout Man. Then you can have no objection to my doing the same with

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. Stockmann!

Billing. It is, by God! It's dreadful for an earnest man to listen 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 them.)

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 relics. Ejlif and Morten shall look at
them every day, 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, Thomas.

Dr. Stockmann. Let me see it. (Opens and reads it.) Ah!—of course.

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,

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 got!

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 it, Katherine!

Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, yes, it's mad enough of them, certainly;
but—(PETRA comes in from the sitting-room). Back from school already?

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

Dr. Stockmann. You were perfectly right, too!

Mrs. Stockmann. Who would have thought Mrs. Busk was a woman like that!

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

Dr. Stockmann. Anonymous, I suppose?

Petra. Yes.

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 longer.

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

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 in.

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 you.

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 me be!

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?

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 it.

Petra. Do you mean that you have been dismissed from your command?

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 meanwhile.

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 besides

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 of that?

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

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 your error—

Dr. Stockmann. I might have my appointment restored to me, do you mean?

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 writing.

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 back—

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 is?

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 concern me?

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) Katherine,

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). Ah, 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 Baths?

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 Baths'

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, you know.

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 right.

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

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 advice.

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 those two!

Dr. Stockmann (staring at them). What the devil!—have YOU actually the
face to come into my house?

Hovstad. Certainly.

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. Stockmann.

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. Stockmann.

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

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 you

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

Hovstad. I think so—if you have the "People's Messenger" behind you.

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 that.

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 hare.

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-room.)

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, Thomas!

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, Katherine!

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 somewhere.

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 air,

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 lessons—

Ejlif. That isn't true; it was the other boys were fighting with us.

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

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—

Morten. Hooray!

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
urchins—regular ragamuffins—?

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, Thomas!

Petra (encouragingly, as she grasps her father's hands). Father!

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Enemy of the People" ***

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