play An Enemy of the People is as relevant today, as
it was when written by Henrik Ibsen in 1872.
The story takes place in a small town in Norway. The town is famous
for, and has prospered from, its “healing spas”. However,
the tourists who are the town's economic life-blood do not arrive
ill, they get ill when visiting the spas. Dr. Thomas Stockmann,
a public-minded doctor, has the water tested and discovers the
water supply for the baths is contaminated from a tannery upstream.
The doctor insists the spa be closed until a new water system
In his effort to clean up the water supply, Dr. Stockmann runs
into political cowards (namely his brother the mayor), sold-out
journalists, shortsighted armchair economists, and a benighted
citizenry. The good doctor is systematically blacklisted and his
livelihood is threatened. Ultimately, the townspeople turn into
an angry mob, attacking the doctor's home and family, and he and
his family are all but driven out of the town he is trying to
This dramatization speaks volumes about the difficulty of taking
scientific knowledge and turning it into political action. Opponents
pursue our heroic doctor as an “enemy of the people”
because his discovery threatens the “bottom line”
of the businessmen and politicians in the town.