An Enemy of the People
An Enemy of the people (original Norwegian title: En folkefiende) is an 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen wrote it in response to the public outcry against his play Ghosts, which at that time was considered scandalous. Ghosts had challenged the hypocrisy of Victorian morality and was deemed indecent for its veiled references to syphilis.
Upon completion of the play, Ibsen wrote to his publisher in Copenhagen : "I am still uncertain as to whether I should call it a comedy or a straight drama. It may [have] many traits of comedy, but it also is based on a serious idea."
Doctor Thomas Stockmann is a popular citizen of a small coastal town in Norway. The town has invested a large amount of public and private money towards the development of baths, a project led by Stockmann and his brother, Peter, the Mayor. The town is expecting a surge in tourism and prosperity from the new baths, which are said to be of great medicinal value, and as such, a source of great local pride. Just as the baths are proving successful, Stockmann discovers that waste products from the town's tannery are contaminating the waters, causing serious illness amongst the tourists. He expects this important discovery to be his greatest achievement, and promptly sends a detailed report to the Mayor, which includes a proposed solution which would come at a considerable cost to the town.
To his surprise, Stockmann finds it difficult to get through to the authorities. They seem unable to appreciate the seriousness of the issue and unwilling to publicly acknowledge and address the problem because it could mean financial ruin for the town. As the conflict develops, the Mayor warns his brother that he should "acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community." Stockmann refuses to accept this, and holds a town meeting at Captain Horster's house in order to persuade people that the baths must be closed.
The townspeople — eagerly anticipating the prosperity that the baths will bring — refuse to accept Stockmann's claims, and his friends and allies, who had explicitly given support for his campaign, turn against him en masse. He is taunted and denounced as a lunatic, an "Enemy of the People." In a scathing rebuttal of both the Victorian notion of community and the principles of democracy, Stockmann proclaims that, in matters of right and wrong, the individual is superior to the multitude, which is easily led by self-advancing demagogues. Stockmann sums up Ibsen's denunciation of the masses with the memorable quote "...the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone." He also says: "A minority may be right; a majority is always wrong."
- Doctor Thomas Stockmann, the medical officer at the new Municipal Baths and the protagonist.
- Mrs. Katherine Stockmann, his wife.
- Petra, their daughter, a teacher.
- Ejlif & Morten, their sons.
- Peter Stockmann, Doctor Stockmann's elder brother; he is the mayor of the town and thus Thomas' supervisor.
- Morten Kiil, a tanner (Mrs. Stockmann's father), also known as the Badger.
- Hovstad, editor of The Peoples' Messenger, the local paper.
- Billing, sub-editor.
- Captain Horster, a shipmaster going to America and a friend of Thomas Stockmann.
- Aslaksen, a publisher (also a character in The League of Youth).
- Men of various conditions and occupations, a few women, and a troop of schoolboys – the audience at a public meeting.
In An Enemy of the People, speaking the language of comic exaggeration through the mouth of his spokesman, the disillusioned idealist Doctor Thomas Stockmann, Ibsen puts into very literal terms the theme of the play: It is true that ideas grow stale and platitudinous, but one may go one step further and say flatly that truths die. According to Stockmann, there are no absolute principles of either wisdom or morality. In this Ibsen is referring indirectly to the reception of his previous plays. For example, the commandment "honor thy father and thy mother" referred to in Ghosts is not simply either true or false. It may have been a truth once and a falsehood today. As Stockmann puts it in his excited harangue to his political enemies: "Truths are by no means the wiry Methuselahs some people think them. A normally constituted truth lives—let us say—as a rule, seventeen or eighteen years; at the outside twenty; very seldom more. And truths so patriarchal as that are always shockingly emaciated."
This classic play was adapted by Arthur Miller in the 1950s in a production that opened at the Broadhurst Theater on December 28, 1950. It starred Academy Award winner Fredric March and his wife Florence Eldridge as well as Morris Carnovsky; future Oscar winner Rod Steiger was a "townsperson." Miller's adaptation was presented on National Educational Television in 1966, in a production starring James Daly. It was also made into a movie of the same name in 1978, starring Steve McQueen. The BBC then cast Robert Urquhart as "Tom Stockman" in their 1980 TV version, adapting the story and the cast names to reflect it now being set in a Scottish town.
A version was produced for Australian television in 1958.
In 2007 Ouriel Zohar creates his troupe Compagnie Ouriel Zohar with An Enemy of the People in Paris, an adaptation for two actors only. First performance in Paris, then Fréjus, Besançon in 2008, Liège Belgium Minsk Belarus Valleyfield in Canada 2009, Porto Heli in Greece in 2010.
An Enemy of the People (with the subtitle The strongest one is the one who stands alone)—a Norwegian film issued in 2004 and directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg—is an adaptation of Ibsen's play.
In early 2013, an adaptation was made in Egypt entitled "عدو الشعب". Translated from Arabic, the title is "Enemy of the people" or "A Public Enemy". It was a theater production organized and directed by Nora Amin (who herself plays the role of Doctor Stockman's wife) and starring Tarek El-Dewiri as Doctor Thomas Stockman. It was translated into colloquial Arabic and featured a rock-themed soundtrack played live on-set. It received various positive reviews and was jointly sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo and the Ibsen Studies Center in Norway. The show came at a time where Egypt and the capital, Cairo are plunged into deep turmoil and the play carries serious political relevance in post-revolutionary Egypt.  
In January 2014, the play was adapted into Mandarin by Nelson Chia, artistic director of theater company Nine Years Theatre, and performed at the M1 Fringe Festival in Singapore.
- Krutch, Joseph Wood. "Modernism" in Modern Drama: A Definition and an Estimate. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1953. Page 11.
- Bailey, Keith. "The Unknown Movies – An Enemy Of The People (1979)". Retrieved 2010-06-19.
- BBC TV's 1980 version of the novel, set in Scotland: IMDB.com website. Retrieved on January 13, 2008.
- "American Playhouse: An Enemy of the People (1990)". Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- Site de la compagnie Ouriel Zohar
- Baer, William (2008). Classic American films : conversations with the screenwriters. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 208. ISBN 9780313348983.
- Al-Ahram Weekly article, English newspaper in Egypt, retrieved 2/10/2013.
- Al-Ahram Hebdo article, French newspaper in Egypt, retrieved 2/10/2013.
- "Public Enemy". Young Vic Theatre. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
-  Teatro da Comuna
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- An Enemy of the People at Project Gutenberg
- An Enemy of the People: Study Guide
- Spark Notes
- An Enemy of the People at the Internet Broadway Database
- An Enemy of the People at the Internet Movie Database