Friday, April 17, 2009

Dr. Stockman: Hero or Villain?


Today I'm sharing two contrasting viewpoints of Dr. Stockman, the protagonist of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People who uncovers a scandal his hometown would prefer stayed covered.

VILLAIN says Hermann J. Weigand in The Modern Ibsen

“The fact is, once the conflict had become acute, we didn’t give a tinker’s dam about the Baths or the Town. We had forgotten all about technical and economic considerations. All we saw was a moral issue, in which from moment to moment the contrast… became more intense. It served them [the town] right, we felt… to reap the fruits of their lying hypocricy... We see the Doctor as uprightness personified, as the defender of the truth for truth’s sake; we are tricked into forgetting that it is personal jealousy, an extremely good opinion of himself, a thirst for power and the love of stirring up a tempest, which are at the bottom of his conduct.

HERO says Brian Johnston in Text and Supertext in Ibsen's Drama

“The joy-of-life and the sunrise… seems to have set the stage for An Enemy of the People, which is notably “sunny” and buoyant in atmosphere. The spirit of this play is not that of painfully uncovering the guilty reality beneath the consciousness of a hard-earned good but, instead, of a zestful, na├»ve, combative individual taking it upon himself to be the champion of truth and freedom. This has so dismayed some Ibsenists that they actually have gone against the whole spirit of the play (and of comedy) to discover sinister and devious motives behind Stockmann’s championship of the truth… This … shows to what lengths the critic, anxious to load a clear and coherent artistic structure with a subtle and confusing “ambiguity,” will go."

Come and decide for yourself.

Meanwhile check out our friends at The New Colony who are currently discussing the subject of theatrical adaptations on their blog.

An Enemy of the People runs May 4-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

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