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Assignment Questions

Essay on Character Analysis

The play An Enemy of the People illustrates a number of the fundamental positions individuals take with respect to potential environmental crises. The major objective of your 1,000-word paper is to identify these typical responses and use them to think about perplexing political, moral and economic questions.

For the first half of your paper: Each of the characters listed below has a basic attitude toward what is happening in Kirsten Springs. Each has an argument and a kind of position. Select three of the characters listed below. Do a character analysis of each of the three. Describe each of their positions on the problem of the springs. What are the arguments each gives? In your character analysis, you are not to tell the story. Assume the reader knows the broad outline of the story. Do not quote from the text, but cite pages you wish to paraphrase.

Tom Stockmann
Peter Stockmann
Catherine Stockmann
Morten Kiil

For the second half of your paper: Answer one of the three questions below, using your three characters to illustrate some of the conclusions you draw in answering the question you choose.

1. In general, how should one resolve the “trilemma” which Tom Stockmann faces? He has a duty to his profession, a duty to his family, and a duty to his employer. Doing any one of his duties violates another. Which should take precedence? Can you have a duty to your society that the society does not want you to fulfill? Is Dr. Stockmann really a traitor to his town? Is he a hero? Who’s right in Kirsten Springs?

2. Should the free speech rights of political dissenters be suspended in times of public emergency or crisis? Aren’t some IDEAS, even if true, dangerous and threatening to the majority’s interests? Must a community tolerate and protect the lone dissenter, even when the majority believes him or her to be wrong? To what extent is the media obliged to provide a venue for unpopular opinions?

3. What is the appropriate role for scientific experts in a democratic community? To what extent should citizens trust the experts? Are they obliged to learn enough about science to judge issues concerning pollution, the environment, nuclear energy, etc., for themselves? Does the right to vote convey a responsibility to learn something about public affairs? Does a special knowledge of science give a person the right to lead or govern? As global challenges increasingly require specialized knowledge in science and technology, wouldn’t it be better if governments were run by scientists and engineers?

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