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Arthur Miller, an Enemy of the People

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (771 words)
Downloads: 8
Views: 157

An Enemy of the People, depicts an intriguing playwright in which the differences of opinions between two brothers leads to a town revolution and the expulsion of one brother from the community. One brother, Dr. Stockmann, believed the contamination of the water in the town’s health spa was sufficient reasoning to be shut down. The other brother, Peter Stockmann, took an opposing stance believing that the health spa was the towns only means to economic salvation, and that closing the spa would detrimentally affect the entire population of the town.

The town stood behind Peter, and the town kept the spa and maintained its financial prosperity, while Dr. Stockmann was shunned and left feeling that the town he loved had chosen the wrong priorities and was not fulfilling the moral duty to preserve life. As Peter is the protagonist in this story, the question to whether his actions were moral or immoral must be raised. The stance that this essay will take in answering this question is the Utilitarian standpoint described by John Stuart Mill.

Utilitarianism must be defined if to be applied to this question.

Before Mill, Utilitarianism promoted the idea of utility, or the promotion of pleasure over pain. Pleasure is then described as a happiness that all people wish to achieve. John Stuart Mill goes further to contribute that “some kinds of pleasures are more desirable and more valuable than others,” therefore, “the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone (Mill 162). ” Mill also argues that the consequences are more important than the intentions behind actions. Therefore, if the consequences are good then the motivations don’t matter.

Complementing the principle of utility, the greatest good for the greatest number, Mill’s definition of happiness would justify the morality of Peter Stockmann’s actions towards his brother. Peter Stockmann strongly felt that closing the health spa would drastically affect the entire town that his family had worked so hard to build. In his soapbox to the crowd Peter says, “we know what this town was without our Institute. We could barely afford to keep the streets in condition. It was a dead, third-rate hamlet (Ibsen 90). ” Following with, “within five years the ncome of every man in this room will be immensely greater, and someday we will be one of the richest and most beautiful resort towns in the world. ” Many good consequences come from a town that had nothing to a town with a beautiful and prosperous resort, these consequences include; a higher standard of living, better education, and a higher morale with a new sense dignity in the town. After realizing these consequences, the town will never want to go back to the old ways. Just as Mill would do, Peter fights for the greater good of the society.

In doing so he is providing the greatest good for the greatest amount of people regardless if a few people have the risk of being injured from the contaminated water. Dr. Stockmann had good intentions to protect the people in his town, but by standing up against the masses he actually made more harm than if he would have kept silent, these consequences include; causing a revolution in the town, the town losing him as a doctor, his daughter getting fired from her job, and his son not being able to go back to school. Dr.

Stockmann had good intentions, but the horrendous outcome makes his efforts immoral according Mill. Peter Stockmann hurt a few to save many, whereas Dr. Stockmann wanted to potentially hurt many to save a few. Mill would conclude that Dr. Stockmann had to the duty to protect the health of humanity, but if he was not able to do so without keeping the happiness of society he should have let his duty go. Being raised with the ideology of treating your neighbor as you would treat yourself leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth after arguing that Peter Stockmann was just in his course of actions.

Family is family, and no matter how different views can become I do not agree in expulsing a family member. Democracy in society is a very controversial issue, because it brings up the question, are the decisions made by the masses the right decisions? Morally speaking the masses can be wrong. Like Dr. Stockmann said, “was it morally right for the masses to crucify Jesus? ” The more the issue is confronted it almost makes sense that society is willing to hurt a few to save so many. I find this story very interesting because it brings up multiple issues.

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Arthur Miller, an Enemy of the People. (2018, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/arthur-miller-an-enemy-of-the-people-essay

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