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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People


by Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People Act 4 Summary

  • A really big room in Captain Horster's house. Lots of people are hanging around waiting to hear the Doctor speak.
  • Billing makes his way through the crowd and sets up to record the event.
  • Captain Horster brings in Mrs. Stockmann, Petra, Eylif, and Morten.
  • Mrs. Stockmann tells Captain Horster that it was kind of him to lend her husband the room. Petra adds that it was brave.
  • Captain Horster says it wasn't particularly brave.
  • Hovstad and Aslaksen enter.
  • Aslaksen and asks Billing where the Doctor is. Billing says he's in the next room.
  • The Mayor and the Doctor enter.
  • Mrs. Stockmann whispers to her husband, reminding him not to lose his temper.
  • The Mayor calls out that the meeting needs a chairman.
  • The Doctor doesn't see why; he's just called the meeting to read his paper.
  • Several people in the crowd call out for a chairman to be elected.
  • The Mayor suggests that Aslaksen be elected chairman.
  • Aslaksen accepts and urges the Doctor to proceed temperately.
  • The Mayor makes a motion that the Doctor not be allowed to read his paper, as its contents could be damaging to the town.
  • Dr. Stockmann is highly offended.
  • The Mayor goes on to say that his own official version of events has been published in the paper, and it informs the town of all the pertinent details. The most pertinent of these is that the Doctor's improvements would mean that taxes must be raised.
  • Aslaksen adds that he thinks the Doctor's real motive is to start a revolution in the town. Aslaksen says he's all for a government run by the people, just as long as it doesn't mean higher taxes.
  • Everybody claps.
  • Hovstad speaks. He says that he once supported Dr. Stockmann when it looked like public opinion was behind him. Now, since the public has turned against the Doctor he is no longer offering his support. He says it's an editor's job to do the will of the people.
  • Aslaksen moves that the gathering vote on whether or not the Doctor can read his report.
  • The Doctor announces that there will be no need for the vote. He's not going to talk about the nasty old Baths anyway.
  • Dr. Stockmann says he's made a much more important discovery.
  • A drunken man stands up and shouts about how he's taxpayer. Everyone tells him to be quiet.
  • The Doctor continues, saying his most recent discovery isn't just that the Baths are infected, it's that the entire community is infected – with lies.
  • People gasp.
  • Aslaksen warns Stockmann to watch his tone.
  • The Doctor declares that he loves his native town and only wants what's best for it.
  • He says, however, that the town's leading citizens, including his brother, are all idiots who should be exterminated like rats.
  • General chaos.
  • The drunken man shouts again.
  • The Doctor continues his rant, declaring that the leading citizens aren't the real enemies of truth and freedom. He proclaims that the real enemy is the solid majority.
  • Even more chaos.
  • Aslaksen orders the Doctor to withdraw his remarks.
  • Dr. Stockmann refuses, saying that it's the majority that is keeping him from speaking the truth.
  • Hovstad argues that it's the majority is always right.
  • Stockmann retorts that the majority is never right. The majority is made up of fools who hold down the wise men in society.
  • The Doctor says that it's people like him, the intelligent minority who fight for the new truths, who are always right.
  • Hovstad accuses the Doctor of being a revolutionary.
  • Dr. Stockmann says, you bet I'm a revolutionary. He claims to be starting a rebellion against the old beliefs that the lazy-minded majority clings to.
  • Hovstad challenges the Doctor to name some of these old truths that are poisoning society.
  • The Doctor declares that the worst one is that the ignorant majority has a right to govern society. Dr. Stockmann thinks the intellectually superior are more qualified to run things. He cites as an example how pedigree dogs and hens are better than regular ones.
  • Hovstad announces that he is from the sort of humble background that the Doctor is disparaging.
  • Dr. Stockmann declares that it's not about class. There are ignorant people all the way up to the top rings of society. He points to the Mayor as an example.
  • The crowd laughs and hisses.
  • The Mayor protests.
  • Dr. Stockmann barrels on, proclaiming that the ignorant majority in the town is just like the corruption that's leaking from the tanneries into the water for the Baths.
  • The crowd yells for the Doctor to stop.
  • The Doctor rages that he would rather see the entire town destroyed than for it to be built on lies. He proclaims that it could poison the entire country.
  • Dr. Stockmann yells that if the whole nation is corrupted, then all its people should be destroyed.
  • Hovstad cries that Stockmann is an enemy to the people.
  • The unruly crowd shouts their agreement.
  • Aslaksen moves that the Doctor be voted an official public enemy.
  • Ballots are passed out.
  • General chatter begins as the ballots are being cast.
  • Kiil comes up to Dr. Stockmann.
  • He asks his son-in-law if he plans to spread word that the tanneries, including the one he owns, are poisoning the water.
  • Dr. Stockmann says that he must.
  • Kiil tells the Doctor that exposing the tanneries is going to be an expensive decision on the Doctor's part.
  • A man comes up to Captain Horster and admonishes him for hosting a public enemy in his house.
  • Petra asks Captain Horster who the man was. Apparently it was the man who owns the ship Horster sails.
  • Aslaksen announces the results of the vote. Everyone except one person (the drunk guy) voted that Dr. Stockmann is an official enemy of the people.
  • The unrepentant Doctor asks Captain Horster if there's room on his ship for his family to sail to America.
  • The Captain says yes.
  • Dr. Stockmann and his family make their exit, while the crowd boos and hisses.

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