Corruption of the Individual
Individuality is one of the most important traits a person can possess. It enables people to have their own opinions and believe in themselves and their core tenets no matter what other people say, which then allows them to stand apart from others and create an efficient society. However, when under the watchful eyes of their peers and the majority, people feel pressured to conform to everyone else’s beliefs, and, in doing so, lose their individuality. This process is shown in Henrik Ibsen’s Enemy of the People. In this play, authority and the overwhelming opinions of the majority pressure those with conflicting opinions to conform to the rest, causing them to lose their own individual beliefs, revealing that the power of majority causes corruption in society.
The process of the loss of one’s individuality can be shown through Billing and Hovstad, whose opinions that define them change when under society’s pressure. Originally, both newspaper editors have strong and antagonistic opinions against authority. Billing takes such a view when he states that “society is like a ship” and that “every man should do something to help navigate the ship” (30). By saying this, Billing asserts that authority should not have the most power in society, and that every person has a role in making society a better place. He implies that every person should have their own way of contributing to society, and that every person should work together and not against each other. Hovstad expresses a similar radical opinion in saying that the underdog has “got to have a say in the government of society” and that “that’s what brings out ability, intelligence, and self-respect in people” (45). By stating this, Hovstad clearly shows that he understands that standing up to authority is what preserves individuality in society. Both newspaper editors define themselves as individuals with strong opinions that they formed only under their own influence....
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