An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen
An Enemy of the People Politics 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.
Aslaksen: "No, no, no; there must be no discourtesy to the authorities, Mr. Hovstad. It is no use falling foul of those upon whom our welfare so closely depends." (2.137)
Aslaksen has played the political game for a while now. He's of the opinion that things only get done when problems are addressed with moderation and temperance. His ideas are in direct contrast to Hovstad's radical approach and later on to Dr. Stockmann's blistering societal critiques.
Hovstad: "Well, fortunately we can turn the situation to good account, whatever happens. If the Mayor will not fall in with the Doctor's project, he will have all the small tradesmen down on him […] And if he does fall in with it, he will fall out with the whole crowd of large shareholders in the Baths" (3.13)
Hovstad seems to have a good grasp on the politics of the town. He's convinced at this point in the play that he's got the Mayor in an inescapable trap. Of course, the wily Mayor proves to be far better player of the political game than the newspaperman and easily manipulates Hovstad to his side.
Aslaksen: "Timid? Yes, when it is a question of the local authorities […] But try me in higher politics, in matters that concern the government itself, and then see if I am timid." (3.73)
Aslaksen defends his moderate opinions on local politics by saying that he's much more radical when it comes to national issues. Aren't the two things linked, though? How can you separate them?