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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

by Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People Act 3 Summary

  • The Hovstad's office at the town newspaper, The People's Herald. Hovstad sits at his desk writing.
  • Billing enters. He's just read the Doctor's report and says it's pulverizing. Hovstad agrees.
  • Both are very excited to stick it to the Mayor and his conservative buddies.
  • The newspapermen think the scandal will usher in a new liberal local government.
  • Dr. Stockmann enters and then tells them to go ahead and publish the article, saying that if his brother wants war, then he's going to get it.
  • Dr. Stockmann goes on to say that he's got ideas for several more articles, too. He plans to really tear down the old ways of the town, the same way you tear down an old house.
  • Aslaksen enters. The temperate man doesn't like all this talk of tearing things down.
  • Hovstad tells Dr. Stockmann that his article is awesome. Every thinking man in town will be behind him.
  • Dr. Stockmann asks Aslaksen to personally supervise the printing of the article, making sure that it comes out perfectly.
  • The Doctor gets all fired up, and talks about how he's going to write article after article slamming the Mayor and his cronies. He intends to get rid of all the old fogies that run the town, and usher in a new era of youth and progressive ideas.
  • Hovstad and Billing egg on the Doctor's fiery rhetoric.
  • Aslaksen says that as long as they are cautious and temperate, there should be danger.
  • Dr. Stockmann says he doesn't care if there's danger, because he's fighting in the name truth.
  • Aslaksen declares that the Doctor is a true friend of the people.
  • The Doctor thanks his friends for supporting him and for being so trustworthy.
  • He leaves to go and check on a patient.
  • Hovstad comments on how useful the Doctor is going to be in furthering their agenda.
  • Aslaksen doesn't like the Doctor's talk of attacking the authorities.
  • Billing tells the Aslaksen that he's too timid.
  • Aslaksen says he's only cautious in local politics, but not national politics. He points out to the two younger men that it's a lot easier to be radical when you have nothing much to lose.
  • Hovstad says he hopes that he never has anything to lose.
  • The Aslaksen points out that another man once sat in Hovstad's chair.
  • Billing says the former editor was a traitor.
  • Hovstad declares that he'll never be a turncoat like the other guy.
  • Aslaksen points out that Billing should be careful, because (apparently) he's running for the Town Council.
  • Billing says he didn't expect to get voted onto the Town Council anyway; he was just running to annoy the bigwigs.
  • Aslaksen exits to his printing room.
  • Hovstad and Billing wonder if they should get rid of Aslaksen; they decide against it, though, because he's the one who fronts the money to print the paper.
  • Billing suggests they try and get cash from Dr. Stockmann. Apparently Kiil, Stockmann's father-in-law, has tons of money.
  • Billing exits to go and write an appeal to the Householders' Association.
  • Petra enters.
  • She tells Hovstad that she won't be able to translate the English novel he gave her.
  • The message of the book is that there's a divine power that rewards all the good people in the world and punishes all the bad people. Petra disagrees with this message and knows that Hovstad does too.
  • She says it would be hypocritical of her to translate it and for Hovstad to print it.
  • Hovstad says that if they print things like the novel, the people will be more likely to accept the more liberal-minded articles in the Herald.
  • Petra thinks that's a dishonorable thing to do.
  • Hovstad replies that sometimes newspapermen have to be dishonorable people.
  • Petra is surprised at Hovstad. She thought he was a good man, especially with all the help he's lending to her noble father.
  • Hovstad insinuates that a part of the reason that he's helping Petra's father is because he's romantically interested in Petra.
  • She thinks it's horrible that Hovstad to deceive her father. Before she leaves, she tells him he should be ashamed.
  • Aslaksen enters and informs the Hovstad that the Mayor is here to see him.
  • The Mayor asks Hovstad if he knows about the Dr. Stockmann's recent findings.
  • Hovstad acts like he doesn't know.
  • Aslaksen enters and asks for the Doctor's article to print.
  • The Mayor asks Hovstad if he's read the report he's about to print.
  • Hovstad lies, saying he's only glanced at it.
  • Aslaksen assures the Mayor that he has no authority over what the newspaper prints.
  • The Mayor tells Aslaksen that he's very proud of taxpayers for wanting to shoulder the burden of the renovations of the Baths.
  • Aslaksen is not happy with the idea of higher taxes.
  • The Mayor goes on say that the Baths will have to be closed for two years.
  • Aslaksen doesn't like that either, because it'll hurt the town financially.
  • The Mayor insinuates that his brother is exaggerating the whole problem.
  • By this point, Aslaksen has totally turned on Dr. Stockmann. He doesn't want Hovstad to print the article anymore.
  • Conveniently, the Mayor has written his own article that he'd like the newspaper to publish. This fine piece of journalism describes the situation with the Baths in a much more favorable light.
  • Aslaksen notices that Dr. Stockmann has entered the printing room.
  • The Mayor hides in another room.
  • Dr. Stockmann asks if they've printed his article yet.
  • Hovstad says it'll be a while before they print it. (Yeah, like never.)
  • The Doctor is excited that his words will be in print. He hopes the article will inspire the poorer classes to take more initiative in the town's affairs.
  • Stockmann goes on to say that he doesn't want any demonstrations in his honor.
  • Mrs. Stockmann enters.
  • She's afraid of what will happen to their family if the article gets published and urges her husband not to have it printed.
  • Dr. Stockmann says his brother won't dare fire him because he has the majority behind him.
  • Dr. Stockmann notices the Mayor's cane and hat. He figures out that his brother must be hiding in the next room.
  • The Doctor puts on the Mayor's hat and whips open the door.
  • The Mayor and Billing enter.
  • Dr. Stockmann taunts his brother, saying that he's the Mayor now. He has the will of the people behind him. The paper will print his words and Aslaksen will lead a rouse the Householders' Association to march in the streets.
  • Aslaksen bursts the Doctor's bubble, saying that he won't be doing that after all.
  • Hovstad adds insult to injury and informs Stockmann that he won't be publishing the article – he doesn't dare to do it.
  • Dr. Stockmann says that since Hovstad is the editor, he should be able to publish whatever he wants.
  • Aslaksen points out that it's the readers who really control the paper.
  • Dr. Stockmann is getting pretty darn mad. He asks Aslaksen to publish his article as a pamphlet.
  • Aslaksen replies he doesn't dare to go against public opinion.
  • The Doctor declares that he'll rent a hall and read his report aloud.
  • Aslaksen tells him no one will rent him a meeting hall.
  • Mrs. Stockmann is shocked that everyone has turned against her husband. She takes his arm and says she stands with him.
  • As the act comes to a close, the Doctor declares that he'll read his report from every street corner if he must.

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