Contemporary social universal issues are reflected in common themes that are evident in extensively appreciated texts. Written by Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People is a prominent example of a text that incorporates universal topics which are those of integrity and environmental damage. Similarly, the film Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh, reflects these themes. Due to the variant mediums the techniques used to portray these themes to the audience are vastly different. Integrity is essential if corrupt forces in society are to be constrained or abolished. In An Enemy of the People, the protagonist, Dr.
Stockmann, sacrifices everything for his moral beliefs to assist in eliminating the corruption: '... I'd rather see it ruined than prospering on a lie! ' This emotive language reinforces that he values honesty, and would rather suffer financial hardships than dishonestly gain from a hazardous industry like the baths. The Doctor's fierce dedication stands out in contrast to many of the play's secondary characters who seem to compromise their supposed beliefs: 'I should be slow to accuse the mayor because he's your bother. But I know you think as I do – the truth should come first... The high modality language emphasises that Hovstad is manipulative and duplicitous as he accuses the mayor of lying to start with, but ultimately supports him, a result of his lack of integrity. Moreover, the play exemplifies the consequences that are sometimes presented to those who have a strong sense of integrity. Dr Stockmann strives diligently to expose the sordid condition of the baths so that people do not fall ill. Eventually, however, Peter's machinations turn the public against him. Emotive language is used to portray the public's hatred towards the doctor: 'He's an enemy! He hates us, that's what he does!
Shame! Boo! Enemy of the people! ' The irony of this play is that the good person, Dr. Stockmann, is the one labelled as the enemy of the people. The play reveals itself as a sharp examination of the terrible price that society often demands of an individual who stays true to his or her principles. Erin Brockovich reflects the same issue of needing integrity to eradicate social ills. The protagonist, Erin Brockovich, acts in a manner motivated by morals. Fighting to sustain her life with her three children as a single parent, she is concurrently fighting for the rights of people who cannot fight for themselves.
Her boss, Ed Masry, initially lacks integrity to take the case on. Brockovich, who is in rage at his moral deficiency screams at him: 'I don’t know shit about shit! But I sure do know the difference between right and wrong! ' The strong colloquial language and high modality of this statement highlights the fact that ethics do not have to rely on formal education. Furthermore, through the close up shot of Masry's stunned face the audience sees that an appeal to a person's conscience can sway a person's decisions. Consequently, Masry supports Brockovich and they ultimately win the case.
This demonstrates that the virtue of integrity can lead to overcoming corruption within society. An Enemy of the People reflects Erin Brockovich in that integrity is still vital for an ethical society as both their protagonists stood up for what they believed in. Stockmann was still maintaining his stand against the 'solid majority' and the socially corrupt institutions they support. However, Brockovich, according to the films epilogue, continued to pursue other social injustice. Hence, both texts reveal that upholding integrity is imperative. Damage to the environment can lead to grave social problems within society.
In An Enemy of the People, the contamination of the environment is not only the vehicle for the play's plot but also the catalyst for the conflict that is palpable during the play. Peter Stockmann is primarily motivated by greed and power, whereas, his brother, Dr. Stockmann has passionate ethical beliefs. When the doctor tells his brother about the polluted baths and that they must be fixed Peter is deeply concerned about financial loss: 'We should probably have to abandon the whole thing, which has cost us so much money – and then you would have ruined your native town. The emotive language used here reinforces that in Peter's unethical perspective the town and its visitors' health is secondary to the fact to what the town will endure economically. The circumstances of the play highlight how money the key motivation in society and demonstrates the on-going social dilemma about balancing the needs of a community with the needs of the environment, if this balance is out the effects on society will be detrimental. Erin Brockovich also reflects the universal theme of environmental pollution.
In Erin Brockovich the reason for the environmental damage is corporate greed. The multi-billion dollar company Pacific Gas and Electric, is portrayed as socially corrupt, because they did not enact policies to keep the water contaminate free, and therefore compromised the future of Hinkley. The company's deceit about the effects of chromium in the water is revealed in dialogue: 'So you say this hexavalent chromium... Well, it's poisonous? Well, it's just gotta be different than what's in our water, 'cause ours is okay.
The guys from PG&E told me; I mean they sat in my kitchen and told me. They said it was fine. ' This underlines the company's stance, that the suffering of the environment and society is secondary to making money. The scene in which Brockovich is collecting evidence juxtaposes the close up shot of the small dead frog with a long shot of the huge power plant nearby, to raise audience awareness of the enormity of the deleterious effect of unethical behaviour.
Furthermore it encapsulates the necessity of each individual opposing such behaviour. In conclusion, An Enemy of the People depicts universal themes which are relevant to contemporary society today these themes are reflected in Erin Brockovich. Both texts illustrate to the audience how integrity is an imperative element when eradicating corruption and that a tarnished environment can have an injurious effect on society.