An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

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The play An Enemy of the People focuses on the truth and how different characters reveal their feelings about it. Each character is motivated by different things so act in a certain way. Therefore they end up in conflicts due to their opposing views about the truth of the Baths. For example, the Mayor acts the way he does because he’s motivated by money. Doctor Stockmann tries to expose the truth because of his concern of the public’s health and because he believes he’s doing the right thing. Katherine supports Doctor Stockmann because she’s motivated by family and loyalty towards her husband. As you can see, everyone’s motivated by different things that are important to them.


The Mayor in the play had to ignore the truth because of money. Money played a big role in which motivated the Mayor to ignore the situation of the Baths and also ending up in a conflict with Doctor Stockmann. Since the town gained it major income from the Baths, the Mayor didn’t want to expose the public of the truth. When he says, “Oh, the public has no need for new ideas. The public gets on best with the good old recognized ideas it already has” (Ibsen, 94), he’s being very greedy and saying that it’s better to hide the truth because the people will get mad and try to fix the problem. However, fixing the problem costs a lot of money and the Mayor’s extremely concerned with money and reputation. He didn’t want to put time and money in fixing the pipe in the Baths so he just chose to hide the truth and threaten the public with the increase of tax. Therefore, since the Mayor’s position is a leading, responsible one, he buries the truth in order to protect the success of the Baths.


 Katherine, Mrs. Stockmann, is a mother and a wife who’s portrayed as a loving and loyal housewife. At the beginning of the play she was against the idea of Dr. Stockmann who wanted to write an article criticizing the Baths, “Ah, yes, right, right! But what good is the right, if you don’t have the might?” (96). However, when everyone began siding against Dr. Stockmann, Katherine decides to remain loyal to her husband and support his ideas. The reason she supports him is because she’s loyal and she wants to protect her family.

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She’s very caring and loving towards her family, another example of her being portrayed as a housewife, stereotypical woman at that period of time. So as you can see, her motivation was her role as a typical housewife and a caring mother and wife.


 The strongest character in this play with the most powerful motivation is probably Dr. Stockmann. His motivation was the truth and that only. Al he wanted to do was tell the public about the reality of the Baths which was jeopardizing the health of the public. He was ready to fight anyone against him and defend himself. You can see that Dr. Stockmann has a very strong determination when he says, ‘Yes, here; the battlefield is here. Here the fight must be fought; here I will conquer! As soon as my trousers are mended, I shall go out into the town and look for a house; we must have a roof over our heads for the winter” (128). This quote shows that Dr. Stockmann was ready to take any consequences for his actions, exposing the truth to the public. Even though he was about to get ostracized and put his family in stake, he chose to do the right thing and go with his morals. So therefore, truth was what motivated Dr. Stockmann the most. 


 In conclusion, the three main characters in this play value different things so therefore end up in conflict. The Mayor, Doctor Stockmann, and Katherine all believe that what they’re doing is right so they try to defend their ideas. The Mayor’s motivation is entirely based on money, Dr. Stockmann’s motivation is purely the truth, and Katherine’s motivation is just protection of family. These three motivations help each character to develop and shape their character and personality as the play proceeds. In conclusion, it was very interesting to see how people act they way they do due to motivation and the result that comes along with it.
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