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.
Dr. Stockmann: "The most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the compact majority--yes, the damned compact Liberal majority--that is it!" (4.89)
Hovstad isn't the only one who's changed his tune over the course of the play. The Doctor just the day before was singing the praises of the liberal majority. Now that the majority has turned on him, however, he's saying they're the root of all that's wrong with society. Is this hypocrisy, or, as Dr. Stockmann says, a kind of awakening?
Dr. Stockmann: "I must say I did expect Mr. Hovstad to admit I was right, […] He claims to be a freethinker--" […]
Hovstad: (shouting). "Prove it, Dr. Stockmann! When have I said so in print?" (4.115-117)
We suppose it's not surprising for a newspaperman to think that things are only true if they're in print, but doesn't it smell a wee bit like hypocrisy? If you believe one thing and print another, doesn't that make you a hypocrite? What's amazing is that Hovstad seems to be completely oblivious to this concept.
Petra: "Mrs. Busk gave me my notice; so I thought it was best to go at once. […] I saw quite plainly how it hurt her to do it. But she didn't dare do otherwise." (4.29-32)
Not only does the whole town turn against the Doctor after his fiery speech, they also turn on his family. It seems clear that Petra's boss at the school didn't want to fire her, but the lady feels like she has no choice. Looks like the power of the majority is turning everybody into hypocrites.