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An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

by Henrik Ibsen

Society and Class Theme

An Enemy of the People presents a complex analysis of society and class. The play doesn't seem to champion one class over another. It doesn't present the woes of the upper class as they try to rule the land, nor does it show middle-class malaise, or even the struggles of the hardworking poor. Instead, the play takes all levels of society to task. In the end, it's not economic inequality that is highlighted in the play, it's intellectual inequality. The play proposes that the main problem with society is that it's run by the majority, a group made up of unintelligent people.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How does Hovstad's standing in society shape his political beliefs?
  2. Does Doctor Stockmann exhibit any signs of class bias? If so, what are they?
  3. By the end of the play, what does the Doctor decide will cure society's corruption? How does he plan to achieve this ideal?
  4. How do issues of class affect each character's actions in the play?

Chew on This

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

Hovstad is more concerned with personal power than truly helping the lower class.

In this play, the lower and middle classes are manipulated in order to secure the power of the upper class.

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