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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

by Henrik Ibsen

Jesus Christ

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Towards the end of the play Dr. Stockmann becomes a Christ figure. Dr. Stockmann, however, might disagree with our assessment. In Act 4 he yells at the crowd, "I am not so forgiving as a certain Person; I do not say: 'I forgive you, for ye know not what ye do'" (4.188). OK, Doc, you might not be as forgiving as Christ, but you sure share a lot of similarities. The Doctor, like Jesus, has a message of truth that he wants to spread across the land. He's hounded by the authorities for wanting to spread it. The majority of his community rejects his message. Eventually an angry mob chastises him and throws rocks.

Though the Doctor isn't executed like Jesus, the townspeople turning against him and destroying his life could be seen as a metaphorical crucifixion. Also, when Dr. Stockmann regains his strength at the end of the play and sets out to reeducate the world, it could be interpreted as sort of resurrection. The fact that he wants to pass his truth on to legion of young followers is also much like Jesus and his disciples.

Dr. Stockmann is also tempted to sway from his path of truth much like Christ was tempted by the Devil. The Mayor tries to get Stockmann to retract his statements, by promising his job back in the future. Morten Kiil, Stockmann's father-in-law, threatens to take away Stockmann's family's inheritance. Then Hovstad and Aslaksen come and try to convince the Doctor to cash in on the controversy of the Baths. Throughout this scene, you'll hear the Dr. Stockmann say things like, "Well, I think I have had a visit from every one of the devil's messengers to-day!" (4.259). Chances are this sort of language is not a coincidence.

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