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Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People


Henrik Ibsen’s An Opponent of the People


Much of Henrik Ibsen’s An Opponent of individuals (1882) could be mapped to the list below factor of beginning: the pain, the distress and disgust he really felt at the hostile function given in 1881 by the Norwegian public and also doubters to Ghosts.

Within a year of this bitterly frowned at magazine, the playwright had provided his response to those that had abused him: a play which traces the confusion and amazement and supreme exasperation of one who, for releasing disagreeable facts regarding the polluted sources of the neighborhood’s economy, goes through disrespect and also aspersion as well as also physical violence from his fellows.

After hence venting his instant anger, Ibsen permitted himself in An Adversary of individuals a more searching look at this sensation of a man who makes it his mission to announce fact.

Summary of Each Act

An Adversary of individuals opens in the evening in Dr. Thomas Stockmann’s living-room. Peter Stockmann, the mayor and Dr. Stockmann’s bro, enters. Not long after, Hovstad, the editor, goes into. They talk about the new bathrooms, around which the life of the town facilities, and also both concur that they will certainly be very good for the town.

It is stated in the discussion that the bathrooms were Dr. Stockmann’s original idea, an idea that troubles Peter. The mayor wants Hovstad to understand that he has additionally played a significant role in developing the baths. Thomas goes out for a walk with his two kids, and returns with one more late visitor, Captain Horster.

It is evident that the mayor does not particularly like his sibling, especially not his happy nature. Peter also resents Thomas’ luxurious life style.

In Act II, Mrs. Stockmann provides Dr. Stockmann a closed letter from the mayor, consisting of a record on the pollution of the bathrooms that the physician had actually sent to the mayor. The letter has actually been returned, with a note that Peter will visit to talk with his bro. Thomas as well as his partner assume that Peter is maybe envious that his brother made the exploration.

Morten Kiil, Dr. Stockmann’s father-in-law, gets here and mores than happy that the physician is not playing “monkey-tricks” with Peter. Hovstad gets here as well as the father-in-law leaves. The editor tells Dr. Stockmann that the actual pollution originates from the town’s management. While Thomas agrees that conservatism is bad, he is reluctant to attack the community’s leadership, which he believes is composed of qualified men, consisting of Peter, his bro.

Aslaksen, the investor of the newspaper, drops in and also shows assistance to the doctor. However, he desires a presentation that will certainly not anger the celebrations and also authorities in power. Hovstad thinks that, while Aslaksen’s intents are good, they are lacking in strong self-assurance. In this act, the brothers have a battle on the baths. Peter wishes to muffle up the issue of the contamination.

In Act III, Hovstad and Aslaksen transform against Dr. Stockamann. Peter has a very easy time convincing the newspaper to transform versus his brother. It is not unusual that the lack of visible proof and also economic arguments and also can be utilized to change the editor’s mind. In this Act, one sees that the editor is not a dependable personality.

For one, his assistance Dr. Stockmann is somewhat inspired by his desire for the medical professional’s little girl, Petra. Hovstad as well as Aslaksen are even talking about just how they can make use of Thomas for their different ends. The editor claims to be on the side of the good of the area and also the truth; what he actually wants is to publish Dr. Stockmann’s articles to attract attention to the newspaper. Petra detects that Hovstad will certainly have no conscience regarding withdrawing their assistance of her dad if his views end up being unpopular.

Act IV is the climax of An Enemy of individuals. Here, one sees the physician at his most enthusiastic et cetera of the community at its most conspiratorial and also conventional. The guests who were having supper at the medical professional’s residence in Act I are publicly denouncing him, and the other way around. According to the newspaper, Dr. Stockmann is incorrect concerning the bathrooms.

The people are eager to hear what the medical professional needs to say concerning the present problem of the bathrooms. The mayor, on the other hand, alerts the people versus false statements as well as makes a motion that will not allow his sibling to give lecture. Aslaksen attempts to encourage individuals to sustain the mayor’s motion and accuses the medical professional of wanting a change.

Furthermore, Hovstad clarifies to individuals just how he was misguided by the medical professional’s false declarations; he is currently rejecting Dr. Stockmann’s proposal about the bathrooms.

In the last Act, one discovers that Dr. Stockmann is isolated in the town. All the people who were previously connected with him have knocked him. These individuals are afraid of taking on the masses and also are highly influenced by public opinion. Dr. Stockmann’s landlord has actually provided him notice to leave, and also Petra has shed her work in the institution.

Mrs. Stockmann asks Thomas whether the suggestion of travelling is a smart one. The doctor claims that they are going to stay and also battle. The doctor fixes to lower the wolves that control the community. He states that he is mightier than the wolves in the town, because he is standing alone.


Dr. Stockmann is clearly one of the most vivid personality in Ibsen’s An Opponent of individuals. Sometimes, it seems that the medical professional is happy to be “an adversary of the people”. Nevertheless, early in the last act, Dr. Stockmann claims that words wound him and are lodged deeply in his heart.

Furthermore, the doctor’s limited welcome of the title adversary of individuals teems with mockery, as can be seen in the final act when he drives away Aslaksen as well as Hovstad with his walking stick.

Although Dr. Stockmann speaks out versus the tyranny of the bulk, he still sees that guys such as the mayor have a great deal of control; the doctor is really satisfied to be the enemy of Hovstad. For That Reason, Dr. Stockmann enthusiastically calls himself an adversary of the people to the editor’s face, recommending that the actual enemy is the corrupt Hovstad.

Peter Stockman is lusting for power and also is an ideal example of a corrupt political leader. He does not want his credibility tainted and also power tested. He is a conspirator, smartly adjusts everybody, and also twists the truth for his own excellent. He claims that he is for the well-being of the masses, yet actually, his intentions profane.

Furthermore, Ibsen shows that Hovstad and also Aslaksen are not reliable characters since they are conveniently influenced by opinions and have ulterior motives. Due to the fact that they have several motivations they can not pertain to a certain verdict. The editor is a leftist radical, nonetheless, he also intends to maintain the paper operating.

Aslaksen, on the other hand, is in the modest side, not wanting to upset authorities and those in power. These characters are used in An Enemy of individuals to show just how hard it is to have a clear viewpoint in modern society. People can not afford to have a dangerous viewpoint; thus they are helpless when the medical professional or the mayor has the top hand.

Pet Imagery

In most of his plays Ibsen chooses to use pet similes or pet allegories as a device of characterization. For example, in The Wild Duck (1884 ), Ibsen makes use of the images of poultry, pigeons, rabbits, and a duck. In An Opponent of individuals, the playwright uses strange living beings to characterize Dr. Stockmann and the community.

In the play, the medical professional has actually been evaluating the water of the bathrooms as well as locates that they are petrified by microscopic living beings, the animalculae or infusiora. These tiny animals can be made use of as a symbol for the physician lowering the corrupt management of the town, the same way as to how these microorganisms contaminate water.


One of the major themes in An Enemy of the People is power as well as just how it is maintained through control. In the play, Ibsen intensely highlights the unfavorable aspects of politics where individuals are quickly managed by the self-centered, corrupt, and also managing bureaucrats. The play slams individuals who act unwisely in rejecting the reality and in blindly sustaining their leaders. Another dominant theme is backwardness. In the play, individuals are rooted in their past and also the leaders refuse to look to the future, scared of originalities.


Ibsen, H. (1984 ). Four Terrific Plays: Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, and A Doll’s House. New York: Bantam Books.

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