Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dr. Thomas Stockmann

Dr. Thomas Stockmann, the medical officer of the Municipal Baths, a conscientious man of science and the enemy of illness and deceit. Stockmann discovers that the healing waters, the principal source of income for the town, are polluted, causing typhoid fever and gastric illnesses to the users. Because of his discovery, he incurs the censure of the town and is proclaimed an “Enemy of the People.” Stockmann is the one honest man in public life in the town. When he realizes that all of his associates would prefer to conceal the fact that the baths are polluted, he is at first amazed and then infuriated. Denied all means of spreading his information through the press or in public meetings, he at last calls a meeting in the home of a ship captain, Captain Horster. Before Stockmann can speak, however, the group elects a chairman, Aslaksen, who permits Stockmann’s brother, Peter, the mayor of the town, to make a motion forbidding the doctor to speak on the matter of the baths because unreliable and exaggerated reports might go abroad. Aslaksen seconds the motion. Stockmann then speaks on the moral corruption of the town and manages to offend everyone, including his wife’s adoptive father, Morten Kiil, a tanner whose works are one of the worst sources of water pollution. Morten Kiil buys up the bath stock the next day and proposes that the doctor call off the drive because he has made the purchase with money that Kiil had planned to leave Mrs. Stockmann and the children. Stockmann rejects the suggestion. He thinks of leaving the town and going to America, but when Captain Horster is discharged for permitting Stockmann to speak in his house, he cannot sail on Horster’s ship, and he decides to remain in the town, educate the street urchins, and bring up his own sons to be honest men. He says that only the middle class opposes him and that the poor people will continue to call on him. In his decision, he is cheered by his young schoolteacher daughter, Petra, and by Mrs. Stockmann and one of the boys. Although Stockmann is not an especially personable character, he is an excellent representation of the frustrations that confront the reformer.

Peter Stockmann

Peter Stockmann, the mayor of the town and brother of Dr. Stockmann. Peter Stockmann is a typical, willfully blind public official who would rather poison the visitors...

(The entire section is 977 words.)