An Enemy of the People

Definition

Theater

  • A play by Henrik Ibsen, first performed in 1882 inOslo. It was a combative answer to public and press criticism of hisprevious play, Ghosts: in An Enemy of the People Ibsendefends the avant-garde minority and reveals his distrust of politiciansand the blindly held beliefs of the majority. He also draws a distinctlyunflattering picture of a liberal newspaper.

    The plot centres on the attempts of the physician Dr Stockmannto expose a pollution scandal in the spa town in which he lives. Thelocal newspaper suppresses the story and when Stockmann appeals toa public meeting he is shouted down by the commercially minded citizens.He calls them fools - and they call him an enemy of the people.

    Ibsen admitted that the brave but arrogant and muddle-headed doctorhad "certain characteristics which will permit people to toleratecertain things from his lips which they might not accept so readilyhad they issued from mine".

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