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Enemy-People V. Civil Action

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After reading the story "An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen and watching the movie "A Civil Action" similarities began to appear, especially between two main characters. In the story this is Dr. Thomas Stockmann, who makes a discovery about pollution going on in his town that is endangering the people there. In the movie the main character is Jan Schlichtmann, a personal injury lawyer, who also takes on a case of pollution that is making the citizens of Woburn sick. These two characters not only have similar situations but actions and personalities as well.

In "An Enemy of the People" Dr. Stockmann is a medical officer to the baths. These baths are where people and tourists go to heal themselves and treat their bodies. The baths however, are the source of pollution that Dr. Stockmann discovers. Normally this would be a fortunate discovery but the mayor, Thomas' brother Peter, does not want this information to be public knowledge since the baths are a major source of income and business for the town. In "A Civil Action" Jan Schlichtmann takes on a case in the town of Woburn where many people and children are contracting Leukemia. He discovers that two factories in the town are dumping waste into the water and causing the townspeople to get sick.

Dr. Thomas Stockmann responds to his situation by not backing down. The town council does not want his discovery to be leaked so they try to discourage him from printing his findings in the town newspaper. This does not work and Thomas begins to go out on his own against what everyone else wants him to do. His determination causes trouble for him and his family but, Thomas decides to continue with his drive to get the information to the people despite what anyone else says. Jan Schlichtmann responds to his matter in similar way. His case could be settled outside of court with a money payoff but, he decides that this is not sufficient and refuses the money thus taking the case to court. This decision he came to on his own and it not only affected him but, the entire firm he works with.

From looking at the actions of the two main characters their personalities can be determined. Thomas and Jan therefore have parallel personalities as a result of their similar actions. They will not back down from a fight, no matter how difficult it may be. They both make decisions on their own when it also involves others. This quality proves to be difficult for both the characters because it is inevitably their downfall.



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