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Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” is a great drama that challenges political ideas such as democracy. Throughout the play, Ibsen dissects how democracy can be exploited and how dehumanizing it can be. It is amazing how Ibsen tackled it by using Dr. Stockmann as an example of how corrupt and manipulating it democracy can become. However, what is more fascinating how much of a dreamer Dr. Stockmann is. It was essential for him to be, as it truly developed the drama and showed that being unreal is a big factor when trying to reform society, especially when the person is at an established position. Him being too idealistic caused him to be too rash, it made him tunnel-vision on his goal to help society, and eventually made him part from society. Surely, everyone is aware of Dr. Stockmann’s great intentions for the community. In Act I, it was evident that he just wanted to serve his town by exposing how unethical the baths were due to its sanitary issues.
Furthermore, knowing that the doctor’s brother is the mayor of the town, he even decided to challenge the mayor due to his beliefs and due to him wanting to immediately resolve the issues involving the bath in order to prevent people from getting diseases and what not. However, further down the story, he ended up rushing head first into the problem, without having a master plan, and was made into being the big bad wolf. Even if he hardly has any negative traits, the one trait that kicked his crotch was his daringness or rashness. He was absolutely illogical. In Act II, the mayor clearly stated that completely renovating their main source of income, will bring the town down. In addition, he made it clear that the town’s economy will definitely suffer if the baths stay under renovation for a while, and what makes it worse is that it will take a few years to pay off the debt. Dr. Stockmann fails to realize the gravity, and goes on to challenge authority almost instantly without a master plan. Yes he has great intentions and has good wishes, but it will result to nothing if he is not able to be realistic and see the bigger picture.
Stemming from that, another flaw that Dr. Stockmann has, is his constant tunnel-vision on the matter. After being told again and again that there will be serious repurcussions if they immediately attempt to solve the problem, he disregards their statements, and sticks to his leftist ideas. At the town’s supposed state, it was obvious that it was better to repair the baths from time to time rather than rushing into it. Dr. Stockmann could have seen a bigger picture, and that was to properly defend and support his case in order to convince the mayor. In reality, there was a very large possibility that the two brothers could have strategized and form a plan to solve the bath which obviously is unsanitary. As the mayor has said, they can solve it over a few years, but acting immediately will destroy the town’s economy. However, as mentioned, Dr. Stockmann did not even mind the facts presented. In Act III, it is seen that he was plotting to expose the sanitary issues to the public, to prove his point. He was blinded by his goals and his urge to fix the problem, causing him to disregard facts. Although there were many seemingly corrupt factors, one such as the mayor manipulating the townsmen by forcing Hovstad to cancel the publishing, Dr. Stockmann failed to see what could have been accomplished in the long run. And because Hovstad betrays him, he proceeds to get triggered and goes on to blame the majority and even calls them stupid for believing the mayor instead of listening to him. It is easy to also say that he let his emotions immediately rush to his head causing him to tunnel-vision but, he had all the means to really go through what his plans are for the town.
The only reason the mayor had to manipulate the public was because it would have forced the town to go into a debt. And, the town being under a democratic system was what pressured the mayor since the majority rules meaning there would have been heavy criticism by the public, which could lead the town to their demise. Yes, it definitely is morally wrong to use a respected position to manipulate the public even if it is for the good. Nevertheless, both sides made mistakes, but Dr. Stockmann had the option to retreat and work with his brother rather than instantly trying to get to the public to try and force the government to repair the baths. Lastly, it was his idealism that caused him to part from society. His traits aforementioned are because of his radical idealism, which eventually led him to his demise. Despite his already successful position in society, he decided to challenge and push his ideals onto the town, rather than going through his plans carefully and considering his options. Though he exposed the filth of a democratic society, he himself is what caused the city to turn on him. His mindset of being right and showing the public overpowered his practicality and ability to clearly see that the town is definitely not ready. His ideas were great no doubt; he had amazing plans to help the city and let them know what is up. But, overall, he acted alone and out of frustration. Although it has shown how cunning the mayor can be, Dr. Stockmann failed to realize that he was pushing his ideas to an issue that is cannot easily and immediately be resolved. In the last Act, even if he had the option to leave and regain his dignity, he stuck to his ideals and stayed, like an idiot. He could have retreated first and work his way back up. People were already trashing his house and he was basically being exiled. However, he was too blinded and had to stuck to his own ideals which will inevitably risk him and his family. His stubborness caused him to part from society and made him an enemy.
In conclusion, Dr. Stockmann’s idealistic nature costed him his spot in society. It caused him to be too rash and daring, when him being level-headed would have solved more problems, but him being too proud make things worse. He failed to see what was rational and logical. Furthermore, his ideas made him tunnel-vision and did not let him see the bigger picture. Despite the state of the town’s economy, he kept at it and plotted against authority just to prove his point. Yes, he did expose the government’s filthy attitudes, but there were better options for the sake of the town. He definitely had great intentions but was ironically “lynched.” Dr. Stockmann’s character is a great example of an extremist idealist who dared democracy and tried to criticize it, but failed due to his absurdity when it came to handling the situation and instead, became an enemy of the people.
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