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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People


by Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People Theme of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy runs rampant throughout An Enemy of the People. We see characters compromise themselves for a host of reasons. Power, money, and public image all play a part. Dr. Stockmann, the play's protagonist, refuses to compromise his beliefs no matter what. His dedication to his personal principles stands in sharp contrast to many of the other characters. It's important to note that the play goes beyond any simple definition of hypocrisy, however. Many of the characters have sound reasons for compromising themselves. When reading the play, we often find ourselves wondering what constitutes hypocrisy is in the first place. Where does it begin and end?

Questions About Hypocrisy

  1. Do Hovstad's political beliefs and actions towards the Doctor contradict each other?
  2. Does the Mayor's downplaying of the Baths' danger pit his pride against the duties of his job? Why or why not?
  3. Are the reasons Aslaksen withdraws his support from the Doctor's cause hypocritical?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Doctor and his immediate family are the only characters whose beliefs and ideals are not compromised during the play.

While worrying about the consequences of lies for the town, the Doctor forgets the harm his outspokenly progressive politics are causing for his family.

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