Part 1 out of 3
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
by Henrik Ibsen
Translated by R Farquharson Sharp
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
A play in five acts
Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Medical Officer of the Municipal Baths.
Mrs. Stockmann, his wife.
Petra (their daughter) a teacher.
Ejlif & Morten (their sons, aged 13 and 10 respectively).
Peter Stockmann (the Doctor's elder brother), Mayor of the
Town and Chief Constable, Chairman of the Baths' Committee, etc.
Morten Kiil, a tanner (Mrs. Stockmann's adoptive father).
Hovstad, editor of the "People's Messenger."
Aslaksen, a printer.
Men of various conditions and occupations, a few women, and a
troop of schoolboys--the audience at a public meeting.
The action takes place in a coastal town in southern Norway,
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
(SCENE.--DR. STOCKMANN'S sitting-room. It is evening. The room is
plainly but neatly appointed and furnished. In the right-hand
wall are two doors; the farther leads out to the hall, the nearer
to the doctor's study. In the left-hand wall, opposite the door
leading to the hall, is a door leading to the other rooms
occupied by the family. In the middle of the same wall stands the
stove, and, further forward, a couch with a looking-glass hanging
over it and an oval table in front of it. On the table, a lighted
lamp, with a lampshade. At the back of the room, an open door
leads to the dining-room. BILLING is seen sitting at the dining
table, on which a lamp is burning. He has a napkin tucked under
his chin, and MRS. STOCKMANN is standing by the table handing him
a large plate-full of roast beef. The other places at the table
are empty, and the table somewhat in disorder, evidently a meal
having recently been finished.)
Mrs. Stockmann. You see, if you come an hour late, Mr. Billing,
you have to put up with cold meat.
Billing (as he eats). It is uncommonly good, thank you--
Mrs. Stockmann. My husband makes such a point of having his meals
punctually, you know.
Billing. That doesn't affect me a bit. Indeed, I almost think I
enjoy a meal all the better when I can sit down and eat all by
myself, and undisturbed.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh well, as long as you are enjoying it--. (Turns
to the hall door, listening.) I expect that is Mr. Hovstad coming
Billing. Very likely.
(PETER STOCKMANN comes in. He wears an overcoat and his official
hat, and carries a stick.)
Peter Stockmann. Good evening, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming forward into the sitting-room). Ah, good
evening--is it you? How good of you to come up and see us!
Peter Stockmann. I happened to be passing, and so--(looks into
the dining-room). But you have company with you, I see.
Mrs. Stockmann (a little embarrassed). Oh, no--it was quite by
chance he came in. (Hurriedly.) Won't you come in and have
Peter Stockmann. I! No, thank you. Good gracious--hot meat at
night! Not with my digestion,
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, but just once in a way--
Peter Stockmann. No, no, my dear lady; I stick to my tea and
bread and butter. It is much more wholesome in the long run--and
a little more economical, too.
Mrs. Stockmann (smiling). Now you mustn't think that Thomas and I
Peter Stockmann. Not you, my dear; I would never think that of
you. (Points to the Doctor's study.) Is he not at home?
Mrs. Stockmann. No, he went out for a little turn after supper--
he and the boys.
Peter Stockmann. I doubt if that is a wise thing to do.
(Listens.) I fancy I hear him coming now.
Mrs. Stockmann. No, I don't think it is he. (A knock is heard at
the door.) Come in! (HOVSTAD comes in from the hall.) Oh, it is
you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Yes, I hope you will forgive me, but I was delayed at
the printers. Good evening, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann (bowing a little distantly). Good evening. You
have come on business, no doubt.
Hovstad. Partly. It's about an article for the paper.
Peter Stockmann. So I imagined. I hear my brother has become a
prolific contributor to the "People's Messenger."
Hovstad. Yes, he is good enough to write in the "People's
Messenger" when he has any home truths to tell.
Mrs, Stockmann (to HOVSTAD). But won't you--? (Points to the
Peter Stockmann. Quite so, quite so. I don't blame him in the
least, as a writer, for addressing himself to the quarters where
he will find the readiest sympathy. And, besides that, I
personally have no reason to bear any ill will to your paper, Mr.
Hovstad. I quite agree with you.
Peter Stockmann. Taking one thing with another, there is an
excellent spirit of toleration in the town--an admirable
municipal spirit. And it all springs from the fact of our having
a great common interest to unite us--an interest that is in an
equally high degree the concern of every right-minded citizen
Hovstad. The Baths, yes.
Peter Stockmann. Exactly---our fine, new, handsome Baths. Mark my
words, Mr. Hovstad--the Baths will become the focus of our
municipal life! Not a doubt of it!
Mrs. Stockmann. That is just what Thomas says.
Peter Stockmann. Think how extraordinarily the place has
developed within the last year or two! Money has been flowing in,
and there is some life and some business doing in the town.
Houses and landed property are rising in value every day.
Hovstad. And unemployment is diminishing,
Peter Stockmann. Yes, that is another thing. The burden on the
poor rates has been lightened, to the great relief of the
propertied classes; and that relief will be even greater if only
we get a really good summer this year, and lots of visitors--
plenty of invalids, who will make the Baths talked about.
Hovstad. And there is a good prospect of that, I hear.
Peter Stockmann. It looks very promising. Inquiries about
apartments and that sort of thing are reaching us, every day.
Hovstad. Well, the doctor's article will come in very suitably.
Peter Stockmann. Has he been writing something just lately?
Hovstad. This is something he wrote in the winter; a
recommendation of the Baths--an account of the excellent sanitary
conditions here. But I held the article over, temporarily.
Peter Stockmann. Ah,--some little difficulty about it, I suppose?
Hovstad. No, not at all; I thought it would be better to wait
until the spring, because it is just at this time that people
begin to think seriously about their summer quarters.
Peter Stockmann. Quite right; you were perfectly right, Mr.
Hovstad. Yes, Thomas is really indefatigable when it is a
question of the Baths.
Peter Stockmann. Well remember, he is the Medical Officer to the
Hovstad. Yes, and what is more, they owe their existence to him.
Peter Stockmann. To him? Indeed! It is true I have heard from
time to time that some people are of that opinion. At the same
time I must say I imagined that I took a modest part in the
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is what Thomas is always saying.
Hovstad. But who denies it, Mr. Stockmann? You set the thing
going and made a practical concern of it; we all know that. I
only meant that the idea of it came first from the doctor.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, ideas yes! My brother has had plenty of them
in his time--unfortunately. But when it is a question of putting
an idea into practical shape, you have to apply to a man of
different mettle. Mr. Hovstad. And I certainly should have
thought that in this house at least...
Mrs. Stockmann. My dear Peter--
Hovstad. How can you think that--?
Mrs. Stockmann. Won't you go in and have something, Mr. Hovstad?
My husband is sure to be back directly.
Hovstad. Thank you, perhaps just a morsel. (Goes into the dining-
Peter Stockmann (lowering his voice a little). It is a curious
thing that these farmers' sons never seem to lose their want of
Mrs. Stockmann. Surely it is not worth bothering about! Cannot
you and Thomas share the credit as brothers?
Peter Stockmann. I should have thought so; but apparently some
people are not satisfied with a share.
Mrs. Stockmann. What nonsense! You and Thomas get on so capitally
together. (Listens.) There he is at last, I think. (Goes out and
opens the door leading to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing and talking outside). Look here--here is
another guest for you, Katherine. Isn't that jolly! Come in,
Captain Horster; hang your coat up on this peg. Ah, you don't
wear an overcoat. Just think, Katherine; I met him in the street
and could hardly persuade him to come up! (CAPTAIN HORSTER comes
into the room and greets MRS. STOCKMANN. He is followed by DR.
STOCKMANN.) Come along in, boys. They are ravenously hungry
again, you know. Come along, Captain Horster; you must have a
slice of beef. (Pushes HORSTER into the dining-room. EJLIF and
MORTEN go in after them.)
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas, don't you see--?
Dr. Stockmann (turning in the doorway). Oh, is it you, Peter?
(Shakes hands with him.) Now that is very delightful.
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately I must go in a moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish! There is some toddy just coming in. You
haven't forgotten the toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Of course not; the water is boiling now. (Goes
into the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann. Toddy too!
Dr, Stockmann. Yes, sit down and we will have it comfortably.
Peter Stockmann. Thanks, I never care about an evening's
Dr. Stockmann. But this isn't an evening's drinking.
Peter Stockmann. It seems to me--. (Looks towards the dining-
room.) It is extraordinary how they can put away all that food.
Dr. Stockmann (rubbing his hands). Yes, isn't it splendid to see
young people eat? They have always got an appetite, you know!
That's as it should be. Lots of food--to build up their strength!
They are the people who are going to stir up the fermenting
forces of the future, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. May I ask what they will find here to "stir up,"
as you put it?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you must ask the young people that--when the
times comes. We shan't be able to see it, of course. That stands
to reason--two old fogies, like us.
Peter Stockmann. Really, really! I must say that is an extremely
odd expression to--
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you mustn't take me too literally, Peter. I am
so heartily happy and contented, you know. I think it is such an
extraordinary piece of good fortune to be in the middle of all
this growing, germinating life. It is a splendid time to live in!
It is as if a whole new world were being created around one.
Peter Stockmann. Do you really think so?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, naturally you can't appreciate it as keenly as
I. You have lived all your life in these surroundings, and your
impressions have been blunted. But I, who have been buried all
these years in my little corner up north, almost without ever
seeing a stranger who might bring new ideas with him--well, in
my case it has just the same effect as if I had been transported
into the middle of a crowded city.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, a city--!
Dr. Stockmann. I know, I know; it is all cramped enough here,
compared with many other places. But there is life here--there is
promise--there are innumerable things to work for and fight for;
and that is the main thing. (Calls.) Katherine, hasn't the
postman been here?
Mrs. Stockmann (from the dining-room). No.
Dr. Stockmann. And then to be comfortably off, Peter! That is
something one learns to value, when one has been on the brink of
starvation, as we have.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, surely--
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I can assure you we have often been very
hard put to it, up there. And now to be able to live like a lord!
Today, for instance, we had roast beef for dinner--and, what is
more, for supper too. Won't you come and have a little bit? Or
let me show it you, at any rate? Come here--
Peter Stockmann. No, no--not for worlds!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but just come here then. Do you see, we have
got a table-cover?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I noticed it.
Dr. Stockmann. And we have got a lamp-shade too. Do you see? All
out of Katherine's savings! It makes the room so cosy. Don't you
think so? Just stand here for a moment--no, no, not there--just
here, that's it! Look now, when you get the light on it
altogether. I really think it looks very nice, doesn't it?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, if you can afford luxuries of this kind--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I can afford it now. Katherine tells me I
earn almost as much as we spend.
Peter Stockmann. Almost--yes!
Dr. Stockmann. But a scientific man must live in a little bit of
style. I am quite sure an ordinary civil servant spends more in a
year than I do.
Peter Stockmann. I daresay. A civil servant--a man in a well-paid
Dr. Stockmann. Well, any ordinary merchant, then! A man in that
position spends two or three times as much as--
Peter Stockmann. It just depends on circumstances.
Dr. Stockmann. At all events I assure you I don't waste money
unprofitably. But I can't find it in my heart to deny myself the
pleasure of entertaining my friends. I need that sort of thing,
you know. I have lived for so long shut out of it all, that it is
a necessity of life to me to mix with young, eager, ambitious
men, men of liberal and active minds; and that describes every
one of those fellows who are enjoying their supper in there. I
wish you knew more of Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann. By the way, Hovstad was telling me he was going
to print another article of yours.
Dr. Stockmann. An article of mine?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, about the Baths. An article you wrote in
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that one! No, I don't intend that to appear
just for the present.
Peter Stockmann. Why not? It seems to me that this would be the
most opportune moment.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, very likely--under normal conditions.
(Crosses the room.)
Peter Stockmann (following him with his eyes). Is there anything
abnormal about the present conditions?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still). To tell you the truth, Peter, I
can't say just at this moment--at all events not tonight. There
may be much that is very abnormal about the present conditions--
and it is possible there may be nothing abnormal about them at
all. It is quite possible it may be merely my imagination.
Peter Stockmann. I must say it all sounds most mysterious. Is
there something going on that I am to be kept in ignorance of? I
should have imagined that I, as Chairman of the governing body of
Dr. Stockmann. And I should have imagined that I--. Oh, come,
don't let us fly out at one another, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. Heaven forbid! I am not in the habit of flying
out at people, as you call it. But I am entitled to request most
emphatically that all arrangements shall be made in a
businesslike manner, through the proper channels, and shall be
dealt with by the legally constituted authorities. I can allow no
going behind our backs by any roundabout means.
Dr. Stockmann. Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your
Peter Stockmann. You have an ingrained tendency to take your own
way, at all events; and, that is almost equally inadmissible in a
well ordered community, The individual ought undoubtedly to
acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community--or, to speak
more accurately, to the authorities who have the care of the
Dr. Stockmann. Very likely. But what the deuce has all this got
to do with me?
Peter Stockmann. That is exactly what you never appear to be
willing to learn, my dear Thomas. But, mark my words, some day
you will have to suffer for it--sooner or later. Now I have told
Dr. Stockmann. Have you taken leave of your senses? You are on
the wrong scent altogether.
Peter Stockmann. I am not usually that. You must excuse me now if
I-- (calls into the dining-room). Good night, Katherine. Good
night, gentlemen. (Goes out.)
Mrs. Stockmann (coming from the dining-room). Has he gone?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and in such a bad temper.
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, what have you been doing to him
Dr. Stockmann. Nothing at all. And, anyhow, he can't oblige me to
make my report before the proper time.
Mrs. Stockmann. What have you got to make a report to him about?
Dr. Stockmann. Hm! Leave that to me, Katherine. It is an
extraordinary thing that the postman doesn't come.
(HOVSTAD, BILLING and HORSTER have got up from the table and come
into the sitting-room. EJLIF and MORTEN come in after them.)
Billing (stretching himself). Ah!--one feels a new man after a
meal like that.
Hovstad. The mayor wasn't in a very sweet temper tonight, then.
Dr. Stockmann. It is his stomach; he has wretched digestion.
Hovstad. I rather think it was us two of the "People's Messenger"
that he couldn't digest.
Mrs. Stockmann. I thought you came out of it pretty well with
Hovstad. Oh yes; but it isn't anything more than a sort of truce.
Billing. That is just what it is! That word sums up the
Dr. Stockmann. We must remember that Peter is a lonely man, poor
chap. He has no home comforts of any kind; nothing but
everlasting business. And all that infernal weak tea wash that he
pours into himself! Now then, my boys, bring chairs up to the
table. Aren't we going to have that toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann (going into the dining-room). I am just getting
Dr. Stockmann. Sit down here on the couch beside me, Captain
Horster. We so seldom see you. Please sit down, my friends.
(They sit down at the table. MRS. STOCKMANN brings a tray, with a
spirit-lamp, glasses, bottles, etc., upon it.)
Mrs. Stockmann. There you are! This is arrack, and this is rum,
and this one is the brandy. Now every one must help themselves.
Dr. Stockmann (taking a glass). We will. (They all mix themselves
some toddy.) And let us have the cigars. Ejlif, you know where
the box is. And you, Morten, can fetch my pipe. (The two boys go
into the room on the right.) I have a suspicion that Ejlif
pockets a cigar now and then!--but I take no notice of it. (Calls
out.) And my smoking-cap too, Morten. Katherine, you can tell him
where I left it. Ah, he has got it. (The boys bring the various
things.) Now, my friends. I stick to my pipe, you know. This one
has seen plenty of bad weather with me up north. (Touches glasses
with them.) Your good health! Ah, it is good to be sitting snug
and warm here,
Mrs. Stockmann (who sits knitting). Do you sail soon, Captain
Horster. I expect to be ready to sail next week.
Mrs. Stockmann. I suppose you are going to America?
Horster. Yes, that is the plan.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then you won't be able to take part in the coming
Horster. Is there going to be an election?
Billing. Didn't you know?
Horster. No, I don't mix myself up with those things.
Billing. But do you not take an interest in public affairs?
Horster. No, I don't know anything about politics.
Billing. All the same, one ought to vote, at any rate.
Horster. Even if one doesn't know anything about what is going
Billing. Doesn't know! What do you mean by that? A community is
like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
Horster. Maybe that is all very well on shore; but on board ship
it wouldn't work.
Hovstad. It is astonishing how little most sailors care about
what goes on on shore.
Billing. Very extraordinary.
Dr. Stockmann. Sailors are like birds of passage; they feel
equally at home in any latitude. And that is only an additional
reason for our being all the more keen, Hovstad. Is there to be
anything of public interest in tomorrow's "Messenger"?
Hovstad. Nothing about municipal affairs. But the day after
tomorrow I was thinking of printing your article--
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, devil take it--my article! Look here, that
must wait a bit.
Hovstad. Really? We had just got convenient space for it, and I
thought it was just the opportune moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, very likely you are right; but it must
wait all the same. I will explain to you later. (PETRA comes in
from the hall, in hat and cloak and with a bundle of exercise
books under her arm.)
Petra. Good evening.
Dr. Stockmann. Good evening, Petra; come along.
(Mutual greetings; PETRA takes off her things and puts them down
on a chair by the door.)
Petra. And you have all been sitting here enjoying yourselves,
while I have been out slaving!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, come and enjoy yourself too!
Billing. May I mix a glass for you?
Petra (coming to the table). Thanks, I would rather do it; you
always mix it too strong. But I forgot, father--I have a letter
for you. (Goes to the chair where she has laid her things.)
Dr. Stockmann. A letter? From whom?
Petra (looking in her coat pocket). The postman gave it to me
just as I was going out.
Dr. Stockmann (getting up and going to her). And you only give to
Petra. I really had not time to run up again. There it is!
Dr. Stockmann (seizing the letter). Let's see, let's see, child!
(Looks at the address.) Yes, that's all right!
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it the one you have been expecting go
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it is. I must go to my room now and-- Where
shall I get a light, Katherine? Is there no lamp in my room
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, your lamp is already lit on your desk.
Dr. Stockmann. Good, good. Excuse me for a moment--, (Goes into
Petra. What do you suppose it is, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; for the last day or two he has
always been asking if the postman has not been,
Billing. Probably some country patient.
Petra. Poor old dad!--he will overwork himself soon. (Mixes a
glass for herself.) There, that will taste good!
Hovstad. Have you been teaching in the evening school again
Petra (sipping from her glass). Two hours.
Billing. And four hours of school in the morning?
Petra. Five hours.
Mrs. Stockmann. And you have still got exercises to correct, I
Petra. A whole heap, yes.
Horster. You are pretty full up with work too, it seems to me.
Petra. Yes--but that is good. One is so delightfully tired after
Billing. Do you like that?
Petra. Yes, because one sleeps so well then.
Morten. You must be dreadfully wicked, Petra.
Morten. Yes, because you work so much. Mr. Rorlund says work is a
punishment for our sins.
Ejlif. Pooh, what a duffer, you are, to believe a thing like
Mrs. Stockmann. Come, come, Ejlif!
Billing (laughing). That's capital!
Hovstad. Don't you want to work as hard as that, Morten?
Morten. No, indeed I don't.
Hovstad. What do you want to be, then?
Morten. I should like best to be a Viking,
Ejlif. You would have to be a pagan then.
Morten. Well, I could become a pagan, couldn't I?
Billing. I agree with you, Morten! My sentiments, exactly.
Mrs. Stockmann (signalling to him). I am sure that is not true,
Billing. Yes, I swear it is! I am a pagan, and I am proud of it.
Believe me, before long we shall all be pagans.
Morten. And then shall be allowed to do anything we like?
Billing. Well, you'll see, Morten.
Mrs. Stockmann. You must go to your room now, boys; I am sure you
have some lessons to learn for tomorrow.
Ejlif. I should like so much to stay a little longer--
Mrs. Stockmann. No, no; away you go, both of you, (The boys say
good night and go into the room on the left.)
Hovstad. Do you really think it can do the boys any harm to hear
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know; but I don't like it.
Petra. But you know, mother, I think you really are wrong about
Mrs. Stockmann. Maybe, but I don't like it--not in our own home.
Petra. There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At
home one must not speak, and at school we have to stand and tell
lies to the children.
Horster. Tell lies?
Petra. Yes, don't you suppose we have to teach them all sorts of
things that we don't believe?
Billing. That is perfectly true.
Petra. If only I had the means, I would start a school of my own;
and it would be conducted on very different lines.
Billing. Oh, bother the means--!
Horster. Well if you are thinking of that, Miss Stockmann, I
shall be delighted to provide you with a schoolroom. The great
big old house my father left me is standing almost empty; there
is an immense dining-room downstairs--
Petra (laughing). Thank you very much; but I am afraid nothing
will come of it.
Hovstad. No, Miss Petra is much more likely to take to
journalism, I expect. By the way, have you had time to do
anything with that English story you promised to translate for
Petra. No, not yet, but you shall have it in good time.
(DR. STOCKMANN comes in from his room with an open letter in his
Dr. Stockmann (waving the letter). Well, now the town will have
something new to talk about, I can tell you!
Billing. Something new?
Mrs. Stockmann. What is this?
Dr. Stockmann. A great discovery, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann. A discovery of yours?
Dr. Stockmann. A discovery of mine. (Walks up and down.) Just let
them come saying, as usual, that it is all fancy and a crazy
man's imagination! But they will be careful what they say this
time, I can tell you!
Petra. But, father, tell us what it is.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes--only give me time, and you shall know
all about it. If only I had Peter here now! It just shows how we
men can go about forming our judgments, when in reality we are as
blind as any moles--
Hovstad. What are you driving at, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still by the table). Isn't it the
universal opinion that our town is a healthy spot?
Dr. Stockmann. Quite an unusually healthy spot, in fact--a place
that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner
either for invalids or for people who are well--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but my dear Thomas--
Dr. Stockmann. And we have been recommending it and praising it--
I have written and written, both in the "Messenger" and in
Hovstad. Well, what then?
Dr. Stockmann. And the Baths--we have called them the "main
artery of the town's life-blood," the "nerve-centre of our town,"
and the devil knows what else--
Billing. "The town's pulsating heart" was the expression I once
used on an important occasion.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. Well, do you know what they really are,
these great, splendid, much praised Baths, that have cost so much
money--do you know what they are?
Hovstad. No, what are they?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, what are they?
Dr. Stockmann. The whole place is a pest-house!
Petra. The Baths, father?
Mrs. Stockmann (at the same time), Our Baths?
Hovstad. But, Doctor--
Billing. Absolutely incredible!
Dr. Stockmann. The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned
sepulchre, I tell you--the gravest possible danger to the public
health! All the nastiness up at Molledal, all that stinking
filth, is infecting the water in the conduit-pipes leading to the
reservoir; and the same cursed, filthy poison oozes out on the
Horster. Where the bathing-place is?
Dr. Stockmann. Just there.
Hovstad. How do you come to be so certain of all this, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. I have investigated the matter most
conscientiously. For a long time past I have suspected something
of the kind. Last year we had some very strange cases of illness
among the visitors--typhoid cases, and cases of gastric fever--
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is quite true.
Dr. Stockmann. At the time, we supposed the visitors had been
infected before they came; but later on, in the winter, I began
to have a different opinion; and so I set myself to examine the
water, as well as I could.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then that is what you have been so busy with?
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I have been busy, Katherine. But here I had
none of the necessary scientific apparatus; so I sent samples,
both of the drinking-water and of the sea-water, up to the
University, to have an accurate analysis made by a chemist.
Hovstad. And have you got that?
Dr. Stockmann (showing him the letter). Here it is! It proves the
presence of decomposing organic matter in the water--it is full
of infusoria. The water is absolutely dangerous to use, either
internally or externally.
Mrs. Stockmann. What a mercy you discovered it in time.
Dr. Stockmann. You may well say so.
Hovstad. And what do you propose to do now, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. To see the matter put right, naturally.
Hovstad. Can that be done?
Dr. Stockmann. It must be done. Otherwise the Baths will be
absolutely useless and wasted. But we need not anticipate that; I
have a very clear idea what we shall have to do.
Mrs. Stockmann. But why have you kept this all so secret, dear?
Dr. Stockmann. Do you suppose I was going to run about the town
gossiping about it, before I had absolute proof? No, thank you. I
am not such a fool.
Petra. Still, you might have told us--
Dr. Stockmann. Not a living soul. But tomorrow you may run around
to the old Badger--
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, Thomas! Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, to your grandfather, then. The old boy will
have something to be astonished at! I know he thinks I am
cracked--and there are lots of other people who think so too, I have
noticed. But now these good folks shall see--they shall just see!
(Walks about, rubbing his hands.) There will be a nice upset
in the town, Katherine; you can't imagine what it will be. All
the conduit-pipes will have to be relaid.
Hovstad (getting up). All the conduit-pipes--?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course. The intake is too low down; it
will have to be lifted to a position much higher up.
Petra. Then you were right after all.
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you remember, Petra--I wrote opposing the
plans before the work was begun. But at that time no one would
listen to me. Well, I am going to let them have it now. Of
course I have prepared a report for the Baths Committee; I have
had it ready for a week, and was only waiting for this to come.
(Shows the letter.) Now it shall go off at once. (Goes into his
room and comes back with some papers.) Look at that! Four closely
written sheets!--and the letter shall go with them. Give me a bit
of paper, Katherine--something to wrap them up in. That will do!
Now give it to-to-(stamps his foot)--what the deuce is her name?
--give it to the maid, and tell her to take it at once to the
(Mrs. Stockmann takes the packet and goes out through the dining-
Petra. What do you think Uncle Peter will say, father?
Dr. Stockmann. What is there for him to say? I should think he
would be very glad that such an important truth has been brought
Hovstad. Will you let me print a short note about your discovery
in the "Messenger?"
Dr. Stockmann. I shall be very much obliged if you will.
Hovstad. It is very desirable that the public should be informed
of it without delay.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming back). She has just gone with it.
Billing. Upon my soul, Doctor, you are going to be the foremost
man in the town!
Dr. Stockmann (walking about happily). Nonsense! As a matter of
fact I have done nothing more than my duty. I have only made a
lucky find--that's all. Still, all the same...
Billing. Hovstad, don't you think the town ought to give Dr.
Stockmann some sort of testimonial?
Hovstad. I will suggest it, anyway.
Billing. And I will speak to Aslaksen about it.
Dr. Stockmann. No, my good friends, don't let us have any of that
nonsense. I won't hear anything of the kind. And if the Baths
Committee should think of voting me an increase of salary, I will
not accept it. Do you hear, Katherine?--I won't accept it.
Mrs. Stockmann. You are quite right, Thomas.
Petra (lifting her glass). Your health, father!
Hovstad and Billing. Your health, Doctor! Good health!
Horster (touches glasses with DR. STOCKMANN). I hope it will
bring you nothing but good luck.
Dr. Stockmann. Thank you, thank you, my dear fellows! I feel
tremendously happy! It is a splendid thing for a man to be able
to feel that he has done a service to his native town and to his
fellow-citizens. Hurrah, Katherine! (He puts his arms round her
and whirls her round and round, while she protests with laughing
cries. They all laugh, clap their hands, and cheer the DOCTOR.
The boys put their heads in at the door to see what is going on.)
(SCENE,--The same. The door into the dining room is shut. It is
morning. MRS. STOCKMANN, with a sealed letter in her hand, comes
in from the dining room, goes to the door of the DOCTOR'S study,
and peeps in.)
Mrs. Stockmann. Are you in, Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann (from within his room). Yes, I have just come in.
(Comes into the room.) What is it?
Mrs. Stockmann. A letter from your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. Aha, let us see! (Opens the letter and reads:) "I
return herewith the manuscript you sent me" (reads on in a low
Mrs. Stockmann. What does he say?
Dr. Stockmann (putting the papers in his pocket). Oh, he only
writes that he will come up here himself about midday.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, try and remember to be at home this time.
Dr. Stockmann. That will be all right; I have got through all my
Mrs. Stockmann. I am extremely curious to know how he takes it.
Dr. Stockmann. You will see he won't like it's having been I, and
not he, that made the discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. Aren't you a little nervous about that?
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, he really will be pleased enough, you know.
But, at the same time, Peter is so confoundedly afraid of
anyone's doing any service to the town except himself.
Mrs. Stockmann. I will tell you what, Thomas--you should be good
natured, and share the credit of this with him. Couldn't you make
out that it was he who set you on the scent of this discovery?
Dr. Stockmann. I am quite willing. If only I can get the thing
set right. I--
(MORTEN KIIL puts his head in through the door leading from the
hall, looks around in an enquiring manner, and chuckles.)
Morten Kiil (slyly). Is it--is it true?
Mrs. Stockmann (going to the door). Father!--is it you?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, Mr. Kiil--good morning, good morning!
Mrs. Stockmann. But come along in.
Morten Kiil. If it is true, I will; if not, I am off.
Dr. Stockmann. If what is true?
Morten Kiil. This tale about the water supply, is it true?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly it is true, but how did you come to hear
Morten Kid (coming in). Petra ran in on her way to the school--
Dr. Stockmann. Did she?
Morten Kiil. Yes; and she declares that--I thought she was only
making a fool of me--but it isn't like Petra to do that.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course not. How could you imagine such a thing!
Morten Kiil. Oh well, it is better never to trust anybody; you
may find you have been made a fool of before you know where you
are. But it is really true, all the same?
Dr. Stockmann. You can depend upon it that it is true. Won't you
sit down? (Settles him on the couch.) Isn't it a real bit of luck
for the town--
Morten Kiil (suppressing his laughter). A bit of luck for the
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that I made the discovery in good time.
Morten Kiil (as before). Yes, yes, Yes!--But I should never have
thought you the sort of man to pull your own brother's leg like
Dr. Stockmann. Pull his leg!
Mrs. Stockmann. Really, father dear--
Morten Kiil (resting his hands and his chin on the handle of his
stick and winking slyly at the DOCTOR). Let me see, what was the
story? Some kind of beast that had got into the water-pipes,
Dr. Stockmann. Infusoria--yes.
Morten Kiil. And a lot of these beasts had got in, according to
Petra--a tremendous lot.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly; hundreds of thousands of them,
Morten Kiil. But no one can see them--isn't that so?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes; you can't see them,
Morten Kiil (with a quiet chuckle). Damn--it's the finest story
I have ever heard!
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?
Morten Kiil. But you will never get the Mayor to believe a thing
Dr. Stockmann. We shall see.
Morten Kiil. Do you think he will be fool enough to--?
Dr. Stockmann. I hope the whole town will be fools enough.
Morten Kiil. The whole town! Well, it wouldn't be a bad thing. It
would just serve them right, and teach them a lesson. They think
themselves so much cleverer than we old fellows. They hounded me
out of the council; they did, I tell you--they hounded me out.
Now they shall pay for it. You pull their legs too, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Really, I--
Morten Kiil. You pull their legs! (Gets up.) If you can work it
so that the Mayor and his friends all swallow the same bait, I
will give ten pounds to a charity--like a shot!
Dr. Stockmann. That is very kind of you.
Morten Kiil. Yes, I haven't got much money to throw away, I can
tell you; but, if you can work this, I will give five pounds to a
charity at Christmas.
(HOVSTAD comes in by the hall door.)
Hovstad. Good morning! (Stops.) Oh, I beg your pardon
Dr. Stockmann. Not at all; come in.
Morten Kiil (with another chuckle). Oho!--is he in this too?
Hovstad. What do you mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly he is.
Morten Kiil. I might have known it! It must get into the papers.
You know how to do it, Thomas! Set your wits to work. Now I must
Dr. Stockmann. Won't you stay a little while?
Morten Kiil. No, I must be off now. You keep up this game for all
it is worth; you won't repent it, I'm damned if you will!
(He goes out; MRS. STOCKMANN follows him into the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Just imagine--the old chap doesn't
believe a word of all this about the water supply.
Hovstad. Oh that was it, then?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that was what we were talking about. Perhaps
it is the same thing that brings you here?
Hovstad. Yes, it is, Can you spare me a few minutes, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. As long as you like, my dear fellow.
Hovstad. Have you heard from the Mayor yet?
Dr. Stockmann. Not yet. He is coming here later.
Hovstad. I have given the matter a great deal of thought since
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Hovstad. From your point of view, as a doctor and a man of
science, this affair of the water supply is an isolated matter. I
mean, you do not realise that it involves a great many other
Dr. Stockmann. How, do you mean?--Let us sit down, my dear
fellow. No, sit here on the couch. (HOVSTAD Sits down on the
couch, DR. STOCKMANN On a chair on the other side of the table.)
Now then. You mean that--?
Hovstad. You said yesterday that the pollution of the water was
due to impurities in the soil.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, unquestionably it is due to that poisonous
morass up at Molledal.
Hovstad. Begging your pardon, Doctor, I fancy it is due to quite
another morass altogether.
Dr. Stockmann. What morass?
Hovstad. The morass that the whole life of our town is built on
and is rotting in.
Dr. Stockmann. What the deuce are you driving at, Hovstad?
Hovstad. The whole of the town's interests have, little by
little, got into the hands of a pack of officials.
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, come!--they are not all officials.
Hovstad. No, but those that are not officials are at any rate the
officials' friends and adherents; it is the wealthy folk, the old
families in the town, that have got us entirely in their hands.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but after all they are men of ability and
Hovstad. Did they show any ability or knowledge when they laid
the conduit pipes where they are now?
Dr. Stockmann. No, of course that was a great piece of stupidity
on their part. But that is going to be set right now.
Hovstad. Do you think that will be all such plain sailing?
Dr. Stockmann. Plain sailing or no, it has got to be done,
Hovstad. Yes, provided the press takes up the question.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't think that will be necessary, my dear
fellow, I am certain my brother--
Hovstad. Excuse me, doctor; I feel bound to tell you I am
inclined to take the matter up.
Dr. Stockmann. In the paper?
Hovstad. Yes. When I took over the "People's Messenger" my idea
was to break up this ring of self-opinionated old fossils who had
got hold of all the influence.
Dr. Stockmann. But you know you told me yourself what the result
had been; you nearly ruined your paper.
Hovstad. Yes, at the time we were obliged to climb down a peg or
two, it is quite true--because there was a danger of the whole
project of the Baths coming to nothing if they failed us. But now
the scheme has been carried through, and we can dispense with
these grand gentlemen.
Dr. Stockmann. Dispense with them, yes; but, we owe them a great
debt of gratitude.
Hovstad. That shall be recognised ungrudgingly, But a journalist
of my democratic tendencies cannot let such an opportunity as
this slip. The bubble of official infallibility must be pricked.
This superstition must be destroyed, like any other.
Dr. Stockmann. I am whole-heartedly with you in that, Mr.
Hovstad; if it is a superstition, away with it!
Hovstad. I should be very reluctant to bring the Mayor into it,
because he is your brother. But I am sure you will agree with me
that truth should be the first consideration.
Dr. Stockmann. That goes without saying. (With sudden emphasis.)
Hovstad. You must not misjudge me. I am neither more self-
interested nor more ambitious than most men.
Dr. Stockmann. My dear fellow--who suggests anything of the kind?
Hovstad. I am of humble origin, as you know; and that has given
me opportunities of knowing what is the most crying need in the
humbler ranks of life. It is that they should be allowed some
part in the direction of public affairs, Doctor. That is what
will develop their faculties and intelligence and self respect--
Dr. Stockmann. I quite appreciate that.
Hovstad. Yes--and in my opinion a journalist incurs a heavy
responsibility if he neglects a favourable opportunity of
emancipating the masses--the humble and oppressed. I know well
enough that in exalted circles I shall be called an agitator, and
all that sort of thing; but they may call what they like. If only
my conscience doesn't reproach me, then--
Dr. Stockmann. Quite right! Quite right, Mr. Hovstad. But all the
same--devil take it! (A knock is heard at the door.) Come in!
(ASLAKSEN appears at the door. He is poorly but decently dressed,
in black, with a slightly crumpled white neckcloth; he wears
gloves and has a felt hat in his hand.)
Aslaksen (bowing). Excuse my taking the liberty, Doctor--
Dr. Stockmann (getting up). Ah, it is you, Aslaksen!
Aslaksen. Yes, Doctor.
Hovstad (standing up). Is it me you want, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. No; I didn't know I should find you here. No, it was
the Doctor I--
Dr. Stockmann. I am quite at your service. What is it?
Aslaksen. Is what I heard from Mr. Billing true, sir--that you
mean to improve our water supply?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, for the Baths.
Aslaksen. Quite so, I understand. Well, I have come to say that I
will back that up by every means in my power.
Hovstad (to the DOCTOR). You see!
Dr. Stockmann. I shall be very grateful to you, but--
Aslaksen. Because it may be no bad thing to have us small
tradesmen at your back. We form, as it were, a compact majority
in the town--if we choose. And it is always a good thing to have
the majority with you, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. That is undeniably true; but I confess I don't see
why such unusual precautions should be necessary in this case. It
seems to me that such a plain, straightforward thing.
Aslaksen. Oh, it may be very desirable, all the same. I know our
local authorities so well; officials are not generally very ready
to act on proposals that come from other people. That is why I
think it would not be at all amiss if we made a little
Hovstad. That's right.
Dr. Stockmann. Demonstration, did you say? What on earth are you
going to make a demonstration about?
Aslaksen. We shall proceed with the greatest moderation, Doctor.
Moderation is always my aim; it is the greatest virtue in a
citizen--at least, I think so.
Dr. Stockmann. It is well known to be a characteristic of yours,
Aslaksen. Yes, I think I may pride myself on that. And this
matter of the water supply is of the greatest importance to us
small tradesmen. The Baths promise to be a regular gold-mine for
the town. We shall all make our living out of them, especially
those of us who are householders. That is why we will back up the
project as strongly as possible. And as I am at present Chairman
of the Householders' Association.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes--?
Aslaksen. And, what is more, local secretary of the Temperance
Society--you know, sir, I suppose, that I am a worker in the
Dr, Stockmann. Of course, of course.
Aslaksen. Well, you can understand that I come into contact with
a great many people. And as I have the reputation of a temperate
and law-abiding citizen--like yourself, Doctor--I have a certain
influence in the town, a little bit of power, if I may be allowed
to say so.
Dr. Stockmann. I know that quite well, Mr. Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. So you see it would be an easy matter for me to set on
foot some testimonial, if necessary.
Dr. Stockmann. A testimonial?
Aslaksen. Yes, some kind of an address of thanks from the
townsmen for your share in a matter of such importance to the
community. I need scarcely say that it would have to be drawn up
with the greatest regard to moderation, so as not to offend the
authorities--who, after all, have the reins in their hands. If we
pay strict attention to that, no one can take it amiss, I should
Hovstad. Well, and even supposing they didn't like it--
Aslaksen. No, no, no; there must be no discourtesy to the
authorities, Mr. Hovstad. It is no use falling foul of those upon
whom our welfare so closely depends. I have done that in my time,
and no good ever comes of it. But no one can take exception to a
reasonable and frank expression of a citizen's views.
Dr. Stockmann (shaking him by the hand). I can't tell you, dear
Mr. Aslaksen, how extremely pleased I am to find such hearty
support among my fellow-citizens. I am delighted--delighted! Now,
you will take a small glass of sherry, eh?
Aslaksen. No, thank you; I never drink alcohol of that kind.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, what do you say to a glass of beer, then?
Aslaksen. Nor that either, thank you, Doctor. I never drink
anything as early as this. I am going into town now to talk this
over with one or two householders, and prepare the ground.
Dr. Stockmann. It is tremendously kind of you, Mr. Aslaksen; but
I really cannot understand the necessity for all these
precautions. It seems to me that the thing should go of itself.
Aslaksen. The authorities are somewhat slow to move, Doctor. Far
be it from me to seem to blame them--
Hovstad. We are going to stir them up in the paper tomorrow,
Aslaksen. But not violently, I trust, Mr. Hovstad. Proceed with
moderation, or you will do nothing with them. You may take my
advice; I have gathered my experience in the school of life.
Well, I must say goodbye, Doctor. You know now that we small
tradesmen are at your back at all events, like a solid wall. You
have the compact majority on your side Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. I am very much obliged, dear Mr. Aslaksen, (Shakes
hands with him.) Goodbye, goodbye.
Aslaksen. Are you going my way, towards the printing-office. Mr.
Hovstad, I will come later; I have something to settle up first.
Aslaksen. Very well. (Bows and goes out; STOCKMANN follows him
into the hall.)
Hovstad (as STOCKMANN comes in again). Well, what do you think of
that, Doctor? Don't you think it is high time we stirred a little
life into all this slackness and vacillation and cowardice?
Dr. Stockmann. Are you referring to Aslaksen?
Hovstad, Yes, I am. He is one of those who are floundering in a
bog--decent enough fellow though he may be, otherwise. And most
of the people here are in just the same case--see-sawing and
edging first to one side and then to the other, so overcome with
caution and scruple that they never dare to take any decided
Dr. Stockmann, Yes, but Aslaksen seemed to me so thoroughly well-
Hovstad. There is one thing I esteem higher than that; and that
is for a man to be self-reliant and sure of himself.
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are perfectly right there.
Hovstad. That is why I want to seize this opportunity, and try if
I cannot manage to put a little virility into these well-
intentioned people for once. The idol of Authority must be
shattered in this town. This gross and inexcusable blunder about
the water supply must be brought home to the mind of every
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; if you are of opinion that it is for
the good of the community, so be it. But not until I have had a
talk with my brother.
Hovstad. Anyway, I will get a leading article ready; and if the
Mayor refuses to take the matter up--
Dr. Stockmann. How can you suppose such a thing possible!
Hovstad. It is conceivable. And in that case--
Dr. Stockmann. In that case I promise you--. Look here, in that
case you may print my report--every word of it.
Hovstad. May I? Have I your word for it?
Dr. Stockmann (giving him the MS.). Here it is; take it with you.
It can do no harm for you to read it through, and you can give it
me back later on.
Hovstad. Good, good! That is what I will do. And now goodbye,
Dr. Stockmann. Goodbye, goodbye. You will see everything will
run quite smoothly, Mr. Hovstad--quite smoothly.
Hovstad. Hm!--we shall see. (Bows and goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (opens the dining-room door and looks in).
Katherine! Oh, you are back, Petra?
Petra (coming in). Yes, I have just come from the school.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Has he not been here yet?
Dr. Stockmann. Peter? No, but I have had a long talk with
Hovstad. He is quite excited about my discovery, I find it has a
much wider bearing than I at first imagined. And he has put his
paper at my disposal if necessity should arise.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think it will?
Dr. Stockmann. Not for a moment. But at all events it makes me
feel proud to know that I have the liberal-minded independent
press on my side. Yes, and just imagine--I have had a visit from
the Chairman of the Householders' Association!
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! What did he want?
Dr. Stockmann. To offer me his support too. They will support me
in a body if it should be necessary. Katherine--do you know what
I have got behind me?
Mrs. Stockmann. Behind you? No, what have you got behind you?
Dr. Stockmann. The compact majority.
Mrs. Stockmann. Really? Is that a good thing for you Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann. I should think it was a good thing. (Walks up and
down rubbing his hands.) By Jove, it's a fine thing to feel this
bond of brotherhood between oneself and one's fellow citizens!
Petra. And to be able to do so much that is good and useful,
Dr. Stockmann. And for one's own native town into the bargain, my
Mrs. Stockmann. That was a ring at the bell.
Dr. Stockmann. It must be he, then. (A knock is heard at the
door.) Come in!
Peter Stockmann (comes in from the hall). Good morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Glad to see you, Peter!
Mrs. Stockmann. Good morning, Peter, How are you?
Peter Stockmann. So so, thank you. (To DR. STOCKMANN.) I received
from you yesterday, after office hours, a report dealing with the
condition of the water at the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Have you read it?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I have,
Dr. Stockmann. And what have you to say to it?
Peter Stockmann (with a sidelong glance). Hm!--
Mrs. Stockmann. Come along, Petra. (She and PETRA go into the
room on the left.)
Peter Stockmann (after a pause). Was it necessary to make all
these investigations behind my back?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, because until I was absolutely certain about
Peter Stockmann. Then you mean that you are absolutely certain
Dr. Stockmann. Surely you are convinced of that.
Peter Stockmann. Is it your intention to bring this document
before the Baths Committee as a sort of official communication?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly. Something must be done in the matter--
and that quickly.
Peter Stockmann. As usual, you employ violent expressions in your
report. You say, amongst other things, that what we offer
visitors in our Baths is a permanent supply of poison.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, can you describe it any other way, Peter?
Just think--water that is poisonous, whether you drink it or bathe
in it! And this we offer to the poor sick folk who come to us
trustfully and pay us at an exorbitant rate to be made well
Peter Stockmann. And your reasoning leads you to this conclusion,
that we must build a sewer to draw off the alleged impurities
from Molledal and must relay the water conduits.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes. Do you see any other way out of it? I don't.
Peter Stockmann. I made a pretext this morning to go and see the
town engineer, and, as if only half seriously, broached the
subject of these proposals as a thing we might perhaps have to
take under consideration some time later on.
Dr. Stockmann. Some time later on!
Peter Stockmann. He smiled at what he considered to be my
extravagance, naturally. Have you taken the trouble to consider
what your proposed alterations would cost? According to the
information I obtained, the expenses would probably mount up to
fifteen or twenty thousand pounds.
Dr. Stockmann. Would it cost so much?
Peter Stockmann. Yes; and the worst part of it would be that the
work would take at least two years.
Dr. Stockmann. Two years? Two whole years?
Peter Stockmann. At least. And what are we to do with the Baths
in the meantime? Close them? Indeed we should be obliged to. And
do you suppose anyone would come near the place after it had got
out that the water was dangerous?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes but, Peter, that is what it is.
Peter Stockmann. And all this at this juncture--just as the Baths
are beginning to be known. There are other towns in the
neighbourhood with qualifications to attract visitors for bathing
purposes. Don't you suppose they would immediately strain every
nerve to divert the entire stream of strangers to themselves?
Unquestionably they would; and then where should we be? We should
probably have to abandon the whole thing, which has cost us so
much money-and then you would have ruined your native town.
Dr. Stockmann. I--should have ruined--!
Peter Stockmann. It is simply and solely through the Baths that
the town has before it any future worth mentioning. You know that
just as well as I.
Dr. Stockmann. But what do you think ought to be done, then?
Peter Stockmann. Your report has not convinced me that the
condition of the water at the Baths is as bad as you represent it
Dr. Stockmann. I tell you it is even worse!--or at all events it
will be in summer, when the warm weather comes.
Peter Stockmann. As I said, I believe you exaggerate the matter
considerably. A capable physician ought to know what measures to
take--he ought to be capable of preventing injurious influences
or of remedying them if they become obviously persistent.
Dr. Stockmann. Well? What more?
Peter Stockmann. The water supply for the Baths is now an
established fact, and in consequence must be treated as such. But
probably the Committee, at its discretion, will not be
disinclined to consider the question of how far it might be
possible to introduce certain improvements consistently with a
Dr. Stockmann. And do you suppose that I will have anything to do
with such a piece of trickery as that?
Peter Stockmann. Trickery!!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it would be a trick--a fraud, a lie, a
downright crime towards the public, towards the whole community!
Peter Stockmann. I have not, as I remarked before, been able to
convince myself that there is actually any imminent danger.
Dr. Stockmann. You have! It is impossible that you should not be
convinced. I know I have represented the facts absolutely
truthfully and fairly. And you know it very well, Peter, only you
won't acknowledge it. It was owing to your action that both the
Baths and the water conduits were built where they are; and that
is what you won't acknowledge--that damnable blunder of yours.
Pooh!--do you suppose I don't see through you?
Peter Stockmann. And even if that were true? If I perhaps guard
my reputation somewhat anxiously, it is in the interests of the
town. Without moral authority I am powerless to direct public
affairs as seems, to my judgment, to be best for the common good.
And on that account--and for various other reasons too--it appears
to me to be a matter of importance that your report should not be
delivered to the Committee. In the interests of the public, you
must withhold it. Then, later on, I will raise the question and
we will do our best, privately; but, nothing of this unfortunate
affair not a single word of it--must come to the ears of the
Dr. Stockmann. I am afraid you will not be able to prevent that
now, my dear Peter.
Peter Stockmann. It must and shall be prevented.
Dr. Stockmann. It is no use, I tell you. There are too many
people that know about it.
Peter Stockmann. That know about it? Who? Surely you don't mean
those fellows on the "People's Messenger"?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, they know. The liberal-minded independent
press is going to see that you do your duty.
Peter Stockmann (after a short pause). You are an extraordinarily
independent man, Thomas. Have you given no thought to the
consequences this may have for yourself?
Dr. Stockmann. Consequences?--for me?
Peter Stockmann. For you and yours, yes.
Dr. Stockmann. What the deuce do you mean?
Peter Stockmann. I believe I have always behaved in a brotherly
way to you--haven't I always been ready to oblige or to help you?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you have, and I am grateful to you for it.
Peter Stockmann. There is no need. Indeed, to some extent I was
forced to do so--for my own sake. I always hoped that, if I
helped to improve your financial position, I should be able to
keep some check on you,
Dr. Stockmann. What! Then it was only for your own sake--!
Peter Stockmann. Up to a certain point, yes. It is painful for a
man in an official position to have his nearest relative
compromising himself time after time.
Dr. Stockmann. And do you consider that I do that?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, unfortunately, you do, without even being
aware of it. You have a restless, pugnacious, rebellious
disposition. And then there is that disastrous propensity of
yours to want to write about every sort of possible and
impossible thing. The moment an idea comes into your head, you
must needs go and write a newspaper article or a whole pamphlet
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but is it not the duty of a citizen to let
the public share in any new ideas he may have?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, the public doesn't require any new ideas.
The public is best served by the good, old established ideas it
Dr. Stockmann. And that is your honest opinion?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, and for once I must talk frankly to you.
Hitherto I have tried to avoid doing so, because I know how
irritable you are; but now I must tell you the truth, Thomas. You
have no conception what an amount of harm you do yourself by your
impetuosity. You complain of the authorities, you even complain
of the government--you are always pulling them to pieces; you
insist that you have been neglected and persecuted. But what else
can such a cantankerous man as you expect?
Dr. Stockmann. What next! Cantankerous, am I?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, Thomas, you are an extremely cantankerous
man to work with--I know that to my cost. You disregard
everything that you ought to have consideration for. You seem
completely to forget that it is me you have to thank for your
appointment here as medical officer to the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. I was entitled to it as a matter of course!--I and
nobody else! I was the first person to see that the town could be
made into a flourishing watering-place, and I was the only one
who saw it at that time. I had to fight single-handed in support
of the idea for many years; and I wrote and wrote--
Peter Stockmann. Undoubtedly. But things were not ripe for the
scheme then--though, of course, you could not judge of that in
your out-of-the-way corner up north. But as soon as the opportune
moment came I--and the others--took the matter into our hands
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and made this mess of all my beautiful plan.
It is pretty obvious now what clever fellows you were!
Peter Stockmann. To my mind the whole thing only seems to mean
that you are seeking another outlet for your combativeness. You
want to pick a quarrel with your superiors--an old habit of
yours. You cannot put up with any authority over you. You look
askance at anyone who occupies a superior official position; you
regard him as a personal enemy, and then any stick is good enough
to beat him with. But now I have called your attention to the
fact that the town's interests are at stake--and, incidentally,
my own too. And therefore, I must tell you, Thomas, that you will
find me inexorable with regard to what I am about to require you
Dr. Stockmann. And what is that?
Peter Stockmann. As you have been so indiscreet as to speak of
this delicate matter to outsiders, despite the fact that you
ought to have treated it as entirely official and confidential,
it is obviously impossible to hush it up now. All sorts of
rumours will get about directly, and everybody who has a grudge
against us will take care to embellish these rumours. So it will
be necessary for you to refute them publicly.
Dr. Stockmann. I! How? I don't understand.
Peter Stockmann. What we shall expect is that, after making
further investigations, you will come to the conclusion that the
matter is not by any means as dangerous or as critical as you
imagined in the first instance.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho!--so that is what you expect!
Peter Stockmann. And, what is more, we shall expect you to make
public profession of your confidence in the Committee and in
their readiness to consider fully and conscientiously what steps
may be necessary to remedy any possible defects.
Dr. Stockmann. But you will never be able to do that by patching
and tinkering at it--never! Take my word for it, Peter; I mean
what I say, as deliberately and emphatically as possible.
Peter Stockmann. As an officer under the Committee, you have no
right to any individual opinion.
Dr. Stockmann (amazed). No right?
Peter Stockmann. In your official capacity, no. As a private
person, it is quite another matter. But as a subordinate member
of the staff of the Baths, you have no right to express any
opinion which runs contrary to that of your superiors.
Dr. Stockmann. This is too much! I, a doctor, a man of science,
have no right to--!
Peter Stockmann. The matter in hand is not simply a scientific
one. It is a complicated matter, and has its economic as well as
its technical side.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't care what it is! I intend to be free to
express my opinion on any subject under the sun.
Peter Stockmann. As you please--but not on any subject concerning
the Baths. That we forbid.
Dr, Stockmann (shouting). You forbid--! You! A pack of--
Peter Stockmann. I forbid it--I, your chief; and if I forbid
it, you have to obey.
Dr. Stockmann (controlling himself). Peter--if you were not my
Petra (throwing open the door). Father, you shan't stand this!
Mrs, Stockmann (coming in after her). Petra, Petra!
Peter Stockmann. Oh, so you have been eavesdropping.
Mrs. Stockmann. You were talking so loud, we couldn't help it!
Petra. Yes, I was listening.
Peter Stockmann. Well, after all, I am very glad--
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). You were saying something about
forbidding and obeying?
Peter Stockmann. You obliged me to take that tone with you.
Dr. Stockmann. And so I am to give myself the lie, publicly?
Peter Stockmann. We consider it absolutely necessary that you
should make some such public statement as I have asked for.
Dr. Stockmann. And if I do not--obey?
Peter Stockmann. Then we shall publish a statement ourselves to
reassure the public.
Dr. Stockmann. Very well; but in that case I shall use my pen
against you. I stick to what I have said; I will show that I am
right and that you are wrong. And what will you do then?
Peter Stockmann. Then I shall not be able to prevent your being
Dr. Stockmann. What--?
Mrs. Stockmann. Dismissed!
Peter Stockmann. Dismissed from the staff of the Baths. I shall
be obliged to propose that you shall immediately be given notice,
and shall not be allowed any further participation in the Baths'
Dr. Stockmann. You would dare to do that!
Peter Stockmann. It is you that are playing the daring game.
Petra. Uncle, that is a shameful way to treat a man like father!
Mrs. Stockmann. Do hold your tongue, Petra!
Peter Stockmann (looking at PETRA). Oh, so we volunteer our
opinions already, do we? Of course. (To MRS. STOCKMANN.)
Katherine, I imagine you are the most sensible person in this
house. Use any influence you may have over your husband, and make
him see what this will entail for his family as well as--
Dr. Stockmann. My family is my own concern and nobody else's!
Peter Stockmann. --for his own family, as I was saying, as well
as for the town he lives in.
Dr. Stockmann. It is I who have the real good of the town at
heart! I want to lay bare the defects that sooner or later must
come to the light of day. I will show whether I love my native
Peter Stockmann. You, who in your blind obstinacy want to cut off
the most important source of the town's welfare?
Dr. Stockmann. The source is poisoned, man! Are you mad? We are
making our living by retailing filth and corruption! The whole of
our flourishing municipal life derives its sustenance from a lie!
Peter Stockmann. All imagination--or something even worse. The
man who can throw out such offensive insinuations about his
native town must be an enemy to our community.
Dr. Stockmann (going up to him). Do you dare to--!
Mrs. Stockmann (throwing herself between them). Thomas!
Petra (catching her father by the arm). Don't lose your temper,
Peter Stockmann. I will not expose myself to violence. Now you
have had a warning; so reflect on what you owe to yourself and
your family. Goodbye. (Goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann (walking up and down). Am I to put up with such
treatment as this? In my own house, Katherine! What do you think
Mrs. Stockmann. Indeed it is both shameful and absurd, Thomas--
Petra. If only I could give uncle a piece of my mind--
Dr. Stockmann. It is my own fault. I ought to have flown out at
him long ago!--shown my teeth!--bitten! To hear him call me an
enemy to our community! Me! I shall not take that lying down,
upon my soul!
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, your brother has power on his
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but I have right on mine, I tell you.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh yes, right--right. What is the use of having
right on your side if you have not got might?
Petra. Oh, mother!--how can you say such a thing!
Dr. Stockmann. Do you imagine that in a free country it is no use
having right on your side? You are absurd, Katherine. Besides,
haven't I got the liberal-minded, independent press to lead the
way, and the compact majority behind me? That is might enough, I
Mrs. Stockmann. But, good heavens, Thomas, you don't mean to?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't mean to what?
Mrs. Stockmann. To set yourself up in opposition to your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. In God's name, what else do you suppose I should
do but take my stand on right and truth?
Petra. Yes, I was just going to say that.
Mrs. Stockmann. But it won't do you any earthly good. If they
won't do it, they won't.
Dr. Stockmann. Oho, Katherine! Just give me time, and you will
see how I will carry the war into their camp.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, you carry the war into their camp, and you
get your dismissal--that is what you will do.
Dr. Stockmann. In any case I shall have done my duty towards the
public--towards the community, I, who am called its enemy!
Mrs. Stockmann. But towards your family, Thomas? Towards your own
home! Do you think that is doing your duty towards those you have
to provide for?
Petra. Ah, don't think always first of us, mother.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, it is easy for you to talk; you are able to
shift for yourself, if need be. But remember the boys, Thomas;
and think a little of yourself too, and of me--
Dr. Stockmann. I think you are out of your senses, Katherine! If
I were to be such a miserable coward as to go on my knees to
Peter and his damned crew, do you suppose I should ever know an
hour's peace of mind all my life afterwards?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don't know anything about that; but God
preserve us from the peace of mind we shall have, all the same,
if you go on defying him! You will find yourself again without
the means of subsistence, with no income to count upon. I should
think we had had enough of that in the old days. Remember that,
Thomas; think what that means.
Dr. Stockmann (collecting himself with a struggle and clenching
his fists). And this is what this slavery can bring upon a free,
honourable man! Isn't it horrible, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, it is sinful to treat you so, it is
perfectly true. But, good heavens, one has to put up with so much
injustice in this world. There are the boys, Thomas! Look at
them! What is to become of them? Oh, no, no, you can never have
the heart--. (EJLIF and MORTEN have come in, while she was
speaking, with their school books in their hands.)
Dr. Stockmann. The boys-- I (Recovers himself suddenly.) No, even
if the whole world goes to pieces, I will never bow my neck to
this yokel (Goes towards his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (following him). Thomas--what are you going to do!
Dr. Stockmann (at his door). I mean to have the right to look my
sons in the face when they are grown men. (Goes into his room.)
Mrs. Stockmann (bursting into tears). God help us all!
Petra. Father is splendid! He will not give in.
(The boys look on in amazement; PETRA signs to them not to