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An Enemy of the People

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.

Quote #1

Mayor Peter Stockmann: "there is an excellent spirit of toleration in the town--an admirable municipal spirit. And it all springs from the fact of our having a great common interest to unite us […]"
Hovstad: "The Baths, yes." (1.29-1.30)

Here the Mayor points out how the Baths unite the town. Having a common interest brings all the levels of society together. Ibsen is cleverly setting up in a seemingly conversational way just what will be put in danger later on when Doctor Stockmann discovers that the Baths are contaminated.

Quote #2

Mayor Peter Stockmann: (lowering his voice a little) "It is a curious thing that these farmers' sons [Hovstad] never seem to lose their want of tact." (1.54)

This is the first example we see of class divisions in the play. The Mayor is basically saying Hovstad is a redneck. (You can take the boy off the farm, but…) It's interesting that this comment comes just on the heels of the Mayor talking about how well all the different segments of society are getting along.

Quote #3

Mayor Peter Stockmann: "The individual ought undoubtedly to acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community." (1.105)

This is the basic principle that the entire play attacks. The Mayor thinks that individual citizens should submit themselves to common public opinion. He's basically a big fan of the status quo. Dr. Stockmann ends up believing that this sort of attitude is corrupting the whole of society and leading the nation into horrible stagnant mediocrity.

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