Character Analysis Peter Stockmann (The Burgomaster)


The Burgomaster represents the old established order of things. He believes that authority should rest in the hands of the officials and that all individuals should be subjected to the rule of these authorities. He does not believe in personal or individual expressions. He is convinced that he is right and anyone opposed to him must be wrong. He tells Dr. Stockmann that "the individual must subordinate himself to society, or, more precisely, to the authorities whose business it is to watch over the welfare of society." He is, then, the reactionary who is afraid of any change because change implies a reevaluation of authority.

The Burgomaster is not a man of strong ethical principles. Instead, he is the practical man who looks to see how something will bring a practical or material reward. He cannot conceive of the possibility that he might be wrong in anything. Thus part of his opposition to Dr. Stockmann's news about the baths is due to the fact that the Burgomaster was responsible for placing the water-pipes in the wrong place. He is incapable of facing the fact that he made a tremendous error, and therefore, he must repress the news of the bad sanitary conditions so that his own reputation will be preserved.

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