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Character Analysis and Reflections on an Enemy of the People

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 960
  • Category: Character

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The play An Enemy of the People illustrates how a person who fights for the collective interest of the public has become an “enemy” of the people in town. In this paper, character analysis of Tom Stockmann, Peter Stockmann and Hovsta, trying to conclude evaluate Dr. Stockmann should be considered as an enemy of the people. The character of Dr. Stockmann should be considered as a good person who places the general interest of the public above everything. There are many good aspects of this character, for example, when he finds out the truth of the baths, he puts his principles above his own desires and gains, not tempted by financial rewards. He is honest and shows great personal integrity both in scientific research and in communication of his ideas. Tom is a perfect idealist who thinks all other people are just as good as he is. As s man of principle, he believes that he is absolutely right in caring about all their people’s health. Even if many other people may not understand him immediately after he announces his findings, he never gives up even when he is steadily stripped of the home, job and social status.

The spirit is admiring, but the way he deals with this problem is not considered wise enough. As an idealist Tom believes in the freedom of each individual to express his or her own opinions. This belief itself should not be considered wrong, but he should have realized the fact that to express an opinion is one thing, to deliver a certain idea to every citizen is another thing. The weakest character shown on Tom Stockmann is that he is too impractical. When he confirms the bad sanitary conditions at the baths, he immediately announces the news to the public without talking to any other authority that might be related to this issue. His lack of tactics and understanding of the practical issues places him in a position of people’s enemy. Under Tom’s glory, Peter Stockmann seems to be so lack of principles. He is depicted as an ordinary person in any type of society who makes choices based on the rewards offered. Their focus on practical results such as monetary rewards or promotion leads them to spend less time on judging whether the suggested option will benefit the society as a whole. In this play, the reason why Peter is so strongly against Tom is because Tom’s findings indicate that he was responsible for the cause of the problem. Such an issue could only lead to no practical benefits but possible penalty in his negligence.

On the other hand, he would not like to see his established good social image to be destroyed by this error. In order to reinforce his ruling position in the society, he insists on his belief that authority should rest in the hands of the officials and that all individuals should be subjected to the rule of these authorities. Most of the time, he is convinced that he is right and anyone opposed to him must be wrong. He tells Dr. Stockmann that “the individual must subordinate himself to society, or, more precisely, to the authorities whose business it is to watch over the welfare of society.” Hovstad is a man with no clear principle. He likes to comment on issues that he is not personally involved and has no personal interest in. He initially supports Dr. Stockmann just because he believes that Tom places the general public’s interest at the first place and the majority of the public should support Dr. Stockmann. However, as soon as he realizes that the public is actually not convinced by Tom and projects like this will cost a lot, he turns against Dr. Stockmann and supports the Burgomaster. The second of half of this paper explores how one should resolve the “trilemma” which Tom Stockmann faces.

As a doctor, Tom has a duty to his profession. As a husband and father, Tom has a duty to his family. As an employee in the clinic, Tom has a duty to his employer. In this section, whether any one of these duties violates another is explored in detail. A conclusion of whether Dr. Stockmann is really a traitor or a hero to his town is drawn at last. Dr. Stockmann have assumed even more responsibilities as a doctor in this profession and as an employee in the clinic, because he behaves strictly to his principle which always puts other people’s interest at first place. However, in real life as a father and husband, principles play a weaker role and how to satisfy his family member’s practical needs, both physically and emotionally, becomes the most important issue.

Dr. Stockmann can’t figure out why he had only the town’s interests in mind but the support from ordinary citizens decreases. The intervention of government has played an important role in leading people’s judgment. No matter how greedy and corrupt a government is proved to be, the majority of people still have faith in the government because it is also these people’s learned principle to fight together with the government. The principles executed by Tom Stockmann should be learned by most people while more flexible factors can be added to make sure that one can play different roles in different occasions. Perhaps, one day, the majority will fall to the minority..

Tom Stockmann is a simple gentleman, good-hearted and determined. He should not be considered as enemy of the people, because if he was truly an enemy to the people he would have been determined to destroy them, not determined to save them, although saving the people costs him almost everything he has including his home and job.

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