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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

by Henrik Ibsen

Power Theme

An Enemy of the People is one long power struggle. Whether it's the intense sibling rivalry at the core of the play, or the petty maneuverings of the play's secondary characters, everybody is constantly battling for turf. Many of the characters spend their time in efforts to gain control over other people. Interestingly, by the end the play's protagonist, Dr. Stockmann, comes to the conclusion that a person has the most strength when his power is contained wholly within himself. He declares, "the strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone" (5.310).

Questions About Power

  1. Did Hovstad make a reasonable decision in not publishing the Doctor's article? Why or why not?
  2. Does the Mayor abuses his power in shaming his brother? Explain your position.
  3. What comment about majority rule could Ibsen be making by mentioning the lone drunk man as the only person who did not vote the Doctor as an "enemy of the people"?

Chew on This

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

Those in power control public opinion.

The Doctor's actions show the power of one man in a corrupt society.

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