© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People


by Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People Theme of Rules and Order

The established rules and order of society are a constant topic of conversation in the play. Some characters thrive on the current system and fight to maintain it. Others deeply desire its destruction, but are too caught up in the system to fight it. And then there's our protagonist, Dr. Stockmann, who makes it his quest to rewrite all the rules from the ground up. An Enemy of the People is a thorough examination of the rules that society is built around and a blueprint for the construction of a new order altogether.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. Does the Doctor seem to be an agent of chaos or order? Why?
  2. The golden rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Do any of the characters follow this rule? If so, which? If not, explain why.
  3. Do you believe the Mayor makes decisions based on ideals of order or self-interest?
  4. Does the Doctor's wife seem to agree with her husband's call for progressive reform? Why might she be reluctant?

Chew on This

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

The Doctor's challenge to his town's status quo causes disorder in a society that has become settled in corrupt ways.

The Doctor's attempts to break the accepted order of his town were ineffective because of their aggressive and threatening delivery.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...