An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen: Play Analysis

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Stefan Apostolov
“An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen

Lie, hypocrisy and unfairness versus truth, loyalty and justice are roused because of greed for political power and self-contentment

“An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen is a play that addresses many social issues and reveals injustice and contradictions in people’s relations. It makes us speculate on the great existence of hypocrisy, prejudice and greed political power in the real life. It makes us think whether we have to change our behavior in order to be better in the society and contribute to its safety and progress. Most of the characters in “An Enemy of the People” are influenced by their desire for political power. In the beginning of the play, Hovstad and Billing seem to definitely support Dr. Stockmann in his discovery. However, it turned out that Hovstad and Billing do not care about the safety of the society at all. Hovstad wants to manipulate the pollution discovery for other purposes. He wants to use the information about the pollution of the bath as a tool to attack the city leadership. In order words, he seems to be interested in how useful the report is to him only, which has nothing to do with the Dr.’s concern about the safety of the town. In addition, Hovstad’s support of Dr. Stockmann is partially influenced by his attraction to the Dr.’s daughter, Petra. He even betrays his friend, Billing, in order to get closer to her. All these reveal Hovstad’s hypocrisy roused by his desire for political power and self-contentment. Being the chairman of the homeowners association and member of other associations, Aslaksen is concerned about the protection of the small business class property and wealth. He always tries to please the town leadership and to be on its side. That’s why, in the beginning, he also support the discovery of Dr. Stockman. What is the most interesting moment in the play for me is how fast the above characters change completely their positions. From...
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