It’s winter in a small southern Norwegian town in the late nineteenth century. After years of struggling, Dr. Thomas Stockmann and his family – his wife Catherine, their young adult daughter Petra, and their two adolescent sons Ejlif and Morten – have returned to town after being away for five years up north, he now well respected and successful as the medical resident of the Health Institute at Kirsten Springs, where he is also a board member. He devised the springs and institute as a center of therapeutic benefits on his own, but developed it with his brother, the town mayor, Peter Stockmann, who is the board chair. They have reinvigorated what was the financially crumbling town. Peter takes credit for giving Thomas this air of respectability, something that has never been important to Thomas, who would rather be seen as a man of conviction in doing the right thing. In this respect, Petra takes after her father.