An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen
An Enemy of the People Hypocrisy Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used R. Farquharson Sharp's translation.
Petra: "You can't use this [English story] for the "People's Messenger" […] it conflicts with all your opinions."
Hovstad: "You are perfectly right; but an editor cannot always act as he would prefer. He is often obliged to bow to the wishes of the public in unimportant matters." (3.114-120)
Is Hovstad being a hypocrite on this point? He's basically arguing that if he prints a story that makes people feel comfortable, they're much more likely to swallow his liberal ideas. It does help him achieve his goals, but at what cost? Is it OK to compromise yourself a little bit to achieve your ultimate goals?
Petra: "you stand fearlessly in the open and take up the cause of an injured man--
Hovstad: "Especially when that injured man is--ahem!-- […] Especially when he is your father I meant.
Petra (suddenly checked). That? […] you have betrayed yourself, Mr. Hovstad,
and now I shall never trust you again in anything." (3.139-147)
Hovstad is insinuating that one of the big reasons he's trying to help out Dr. Stockmann is because he's got crush on Petra. This clumsy come-on totally backfires on him. Petra, who was just singing his praises, now thinks he's a total hypocrite and doesn't want anything to do with him for the rest of the play.
Hovstad: "I hope no one here has any doubt as to my liberal principles; […] But the advice of […] thoughtful men has convinced me that in purely local matters a newspaper ought to proceed with a certain caution."
Aslaksen: "I entirely agree with the speaker." (4.40-41)
Earlier in the play, Hovstad criticized Aslaksen for this very same view, saying that Aslaksen was a hypocrite for having liberal opinions on national politics, but maintaining a more conservative view in local affairs. Now he's totally changed his tune. Do you think he's honestly changed his mind on the issue or is he guilty of hypocrisy?