An Enemy of the People
by Henrik Ibsen
An Enemy of the People Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used R. Farquharson Sharp's translation.
Hovstad: "Yes--and in my opinion a journalist incurs a heavy responsibility if he neglects a favourable opportunity of emancipating the masses--the humble and oppressed." (2.106)
Hovstad styles himself as the hero of the working class. He wants to use the Doctor's discovery to instigate class warfare in the town. Early on it seems that his motivations are sincere, though later in the play it's revealed that when it comes down to it, he's more concerned with himself than with the "humble and oppressed."
Billing: "We must strike blow upon blow until the whole of this aristocracy tumbles to pieces." (3.8)
Billing constantly echoes Hovstad's beliefs. He seems to share Hovstad's animosity towards the upper class. Just like his buddy Hovstad, however, he turns out to be a hypocrite. The Mayor manages to win him over without much effort.
Dr. Stockmann: "The revolution will be launched like a ship that runs smoothly off the stocks." (3.59)
Throughout the play Ibsen uses the ship as a metaphor for society. It makes sense, right? On a boat you've got a captain, crew, and passengers. A ship is like a society in miniature, a microcosm, you could say. This quote isn't the only example. Keep your eyes open as you read the script.