Vol. 1 No. 20; December 2011
The Battle between Responsibility and Manipulation in Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” Noorbakhsh Hooti Assistant Professor Department of English Language and Literature Faculty of Arts Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran. Amin Davoodi EFL Instructor The Adults' Department of the Iran Language Institute, Kermanshah branch Kermanshah, Iran. Abstract Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” centers on two important concepts: “Responsibility” and “Manipulation”. Sense of responsibility is portrayed in Dr. Stockmann’s character and the ability to manipulate the truth is vivid in the Mayor’s character. The whole play is like a battle between the two concepts. No one stops fighting. “Responsibility” and “Manipulation” are the real protagonists and the antagonists of the play. This study is an attempt to bring into picture the nature of responsibility and manipulation and their ceaseless battle, which leads to un-called for and untoward repercussions in the play in hand.
Key Words: truth, manipulation, protagonist, responsibility. 1. Introduction Throughout the history “responsibility” has been a challenging concept. Almost everyone believes that he has a kind of responsibility toward his family, his society, his employer and so on. There are different connotations of “responsibility” under different contexts. Kanunguo (2001) defines social responsibility as the “belief of moral obligation to help others without personal considerations” (quoted in Avon, 2007, p. 49). Various definitions or interpretations of “responsibility” are not the problems of people in the 21st century because most of the available ones are acceptable. The chief problem lies in how much people care to do justice with their entrusted responsibilities. Theoretically speaking, everybody shows his passion for “responsibility”. However, he/she may never put the principles of “responsibility” into practice. As a result of that, the tragic stories of corruption, lies, terror and manipulation start. For instance, politicians claim to be the supporters of democracy and freedom of speech; however, when it comes to their own parties they do not even tolerate opposite ideas from their party members, let alone the critical comments of the opposite parties, because “…in a party...democracy is not for home consumption, but is rather an article made for export”(Michels, 1962, p. 79). “Responsibility” and “manipulation” are the two sides of a continuum. Giving little importance to Responsibility will result in manipulating the truth. It seems that among the calculative politicians, responsibility is a kind of political game or in other words a political business. In this lucrative business the least importance is given to the common interest of the common people of the society, which in long run can be problem making. Indeed the devious and dishonest transfer of information to the common people will lead to a kind of sense of pessimism towards the respective authorities of the society. As Maravall says, problems of information and monitoring arise when politicians manipulate information to which they have privileged access, and when vast areas of politics are opaque to voters. These might have difficulty in assessing whether good or bad outcomes are due to governmental policies or to “objective conditions” whose responsibility cannot be attributed to the government (1996, p. 6). People manipulate the truth by lying while labeling them as “white lies”. The paradox is that the so-called “white lies” ruin our lives and make the clean sheet of our honest nature to be dark and even black! For instance, in “An Enemy of the People”, the mayor, Peter, asks Dr. Stockmann to tell a lie to people about the “polluted baths”; however, the responsible doctor never accepts it. 202
The Special Issue on Contemporary Research in Social Science DR. THOMAS STOCKMANN: And so I am to give myself...