The community suffers from poor leadership. Malicious leaders are known to be everywhere, those who are in the pursuit of the fulfillment of their personal needs. Accompanied by members of the society known for rash decisions, their decisions may have positive or negative impact to others. Henrik Ibsens play an enemy of the people shows how leadership and division of interest among the people affect the community.
Moral decadency is evident in the play. Corruption is manifested in the towns leadership system. Thomas Stockmann, a brother to the mayor, peter stockman, is the towns doctor. He discovers that the towns baths, which are the towns main source of income are contaminated. The baths were a site for tourist attraction and was used by the people from the neighboring towns. He discovered this after registering multiple illnesses that befell those who consumed the baths water. This prompts him to send samples of the baths water to the local university for testing and analysis. Thomas reports his findings to Peter Stockmann as well as his family. Peter becomes hesitant and argues that a lot of monetary resources will be used in the renovation of the baths. However, Thomas is determined to make the people of the town aware of the baths threat to their health. He therefore approaches the press men of the towns main magazine, Billing the journalist, Hovstad the editor and Aslaksen the printer. They vow to support Thomas Stockmann publish the news to the public. However, they betray the Doctor when the mayor visits them and informs them of the burden that will be passed on to the taxpayers. Doctor Stockmann becomes a clown in his community. This does not prevent from arranging a demonstration to notify the people of the need to purify the water through the relay of the pipes. The mayor works indefatigably to turn the people against him. Doctor Stockmann is finally declared as the enemy of the people.
On the other hand, Peter Stockmann, the mayor of the town is after his own personal interests. He is hesitant to make the necessary renovations of relaying the water pipes to protect. He uses his power and influence as the mayor of the town to turn the people against Dr. Stockmann who reports about the wanting conditions of the town. He starts by threatening the Doctor of losing his job as the appointed doctor of the town by the town council. Peter threatens the Doctor by telling him that being a subordinate person in the town he should not conflict with the interests of his superiors. He adds that the closure of the baths will rob off the towns major source of income through the loss of tourists who will prefer to go to other baths in the neighboring towns. Furthermore, he argues that the relay of the water pipes for purification will be expensive to implement. He tells the press men of the peoples Herald- Billing, Aslaksen and Hovstad of the heavy financial burden that will be vested upon the taxpayers.
The economic situation of the town is below average. This has been brought out through the authors random descriptions of the peoples living conditions. Majority of the people wallow in poverty. This includes Doctor Stockman himself, especially before his appointment by the towns water baths council as the towns doctor. Peter Stockmann is surprised when he visits the Doctor and finds that they are serving meat for dinner. The meat itself is cold. The mayors surprise shows that the doctors living conditions were bad and shows that it is a one in a million opportunity for them to have a decent meal. The Doctors living room is described to have few furniture.
On the other hand, Peter Stockman brings out the economic situation of the town as poor. His main reason of opposing the relaying of the water pipes is the strain on economic resources. This is brought out when he tells the doctor that the renovations not only require technical resources but also monetary resources. He uses the towns economic situation to turn the press men against the doctor despite the fact that they had previously vowed to stand with Doctor Stockman for the truth. Peter explains to them about the heavy burden that will be vested on them as the taxpayers.
Doctor Stockmans exhibited transparency in the conduction of his work. This prompts him to undertake the odyssey of telling people about the harmful condition of the baths. However, his remedies are somehow unrealistic considering the amount of monetary resources that will be used in the relay of the water pipes (Shore, pg.14). Although the mayor is portrayed as one who is after personal interests, he makes sense when he says that the repair of the baths does only require technical resources from the town, but also economic resources.
The towns environmental situation is deteriorated. This is brought out by Doctor Stockmanns report concerning the sanitary condition of the baths. The doctor has his suspicions about the sanitary conditions of the water of the baths. In regard to this, he sends some samples of water from the baths to the local university for testing. The universitys report confirms his suspicions and shows that there are harmful micro-organisms present in the water that led to some strange illnesses. He reports that a lot of people fell sick during the summer period. He breaks the news to his family and tells them that the water contains millions of putrefying organic matter by the name infusoria. He explains that the warm temperatures experienced during summers provided a suitable environment for the multiplication of the micro-organisms (Ibsen pg.3). Dr. Stockman expresses his joy over the discovery and even toasts to his family. He explains how he thought that the visitors came with the diseases but had now established that they contracted the diseases from the consumption of water from the baths.
Peter Stockmann denies the bad sanitary conditions of the town. He argues that the Doctor exaggerated his findings about the condition of the baths. He openly tells the Doctor that he is not entirely convinced by the report concerning the sanitary conditions of the baths. It is not arguable that Peter is not in any position to contradict the Doctors findings as he is not a medical specialist. The mayor claims that the closure of the baths for renovation will scare their tourists away who will then prefer going to the baths in the neighboring towns once it leaks to the public of the deadly condition of the baths.
The condition of the baths should have been communicated to the public in a delicate manner. The town, led by the mayor could adopt a strategy in which they could use to inform the public of the situation in such a way that the information could barely reach the visitors and those from other towns. Doctor Stockamann was bewildered by the fact that it is him who invented the idea and not his brother. Sibling rivalry has been vividly brought out between the two brothers through-out the play as they argued who was behind the establishment of the baths. Instead of handling the situation with the delicacy it required, the Doctor went ahead to hold public demonstrations to inform the people about the sanitary conditions of the baths.
In conclusion, the play vividly brings out leadership conflicts in the society. The reaction of the people to such situations has been highlighted. The play educates people on the role of leaders and people in steering the community forward. People are therefore encouraged to be involved in matters affecting the society and should watch out for malicious leaders who use manipulation to entice people to unethical activities.
Ibsen, Henrik. An enemy of the people. Courier Corporation, 2012.
Shore, Anna. "An Enemy of the People." BMJ 336.7659 (2008): 1509-1509.
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