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An Enemy of the People

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Henrik Ibsen’s play, entitled “An Enemy of The People”, deeply stresses out the essence of having characters in a play, which is notably considered as the second most important element of tragedy. A character is said to be a genuine one if it has four certain qualities, which the characters of the play certainly possess, hinting out the consistency one needs in order to play a particular role. Characters in a tragedy are known as an extended verbal representation of a human being, wherein through its thought, diction, and action, one can assess some interactions of that specific character, primarily Dr. Stockmann, wherein many believe as Ibsen’s most one-dimensional character.

One of the successful methods of characterization Ibsen uses in his play, “An Enemy of the People”, is through the usage of dialogues in describing the traits of others. This can be seen in his characterization of Dr. Stockmann, who is regarded as the main character in the said play. In page 9, wherein Peter Stockman is seen talking to Dr. Stockmann, “You have an ingrained tendency to take things into your own hands, at least, and, that is almost equally undoubtedly inadmissible in a well-ordered community, the individual ought undoubtedly to subordinate himself or herself to the community or to be more accurate, to the authorities who have the care of the community’s welfare.” Through this statement alone, one can assess the said individuality Dr. Stockmann possesses. Notice how he briskly moves along the play, through oppositions and rallies alike, yet he still manages to keep his beliefs of individualism affirmed, as he seemingly believes that the strongest man in the world is he who stands alone, which was quoted by Henrik Ibsen himself.

Idealism, which Merriam Webster describes as the practice of pursuing ideals, especially unrealistically, is another trait Dr. Stockmann possesses. An idealistic person is said to be somebody who dreams perfection. Notice how idealism simply deprives him of the common procedures of everyday tasks. One can also notice how being too idealistic can lead to drastic decisions and measures, one of which being too impetuous. An example would be how he immediately spreads the news after receiving a letter wherein it is said that the sanitary condition in the baths was poor, with faulty pipes and leakages. His idealism isn’t always met as seen in the play, with one scene depicting how he sees an ideal state as a state wherein everybody constantly shares new ideas with other citizens, which isn’t really met, which makes it coherent.

A character is said to be good in some way, no matter who they are; which leads to the last two traits he possesses, which would be his in resoluteness. A resolute person is somebody who is firmly determined in achieving a certain goal, which Dr. Stockmann clearly displayed when he was steadily being stripped of his position in society, as he refused to be silent about the town’s contaminated baths. As seen in the play, there were several such instances which were made to change his decision; however, he didn’t give up, continuously retaliating in the process. There was also such a scene, wherein he was seen giving a speech amidst protests yet he wasn’t deterred at all with his stand.

Overall, his characterization is said to be one-dimensional, mainly due to the fact that Dr. Stockmann lacks depth and is considered a flat character till the very end, as he didn’t change both his idealistic and individualistic beliefs. It is rare that the main character is described as one-dimensional, as the writer or playwright often gives changes to that certain character’s role as the play progresses. Even if he is said to be a one-dimensional character, there is nothing to take away from him being an amazingly made character, being able to channel out both good and bad traits, truly an amazing concoction of both positives and negatives.

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