In “An Enemy of the People,” Henrik Ibsen adopts the theme that the majority of people are always wrong. This is to say that if one wishes to find truth in the world he must look to the minority of people. There is great wisdom in these words. The majority of people are not the most intelligible of the population. They do not have the proper training to make the greatest decisions in favor of themselves or their respective nations.
This play was written in answer to the Puritan people who oppressed his highly controversial play “Ghosts. ” Henrik shows his outrage by showing the majority for what it really is—a collection of fools. Even though Dr. Stockmann had only the town’s interests in mind, his brother and the Baths Committee intended to stop him in his crusade. Though they were corrupt and greedy, the majority rallied behind them rather than Thomas Stockmann. Even his friends and allies, who he thought would support and raise him up turned their backs on him with little effort from the mayor.
Their self-preservation was more important to them than the town or, indeed, their friend. Using the “People’s Messenger” his opponents criticized him and said that what he intended to do to the Baths was for his own glory. They turned on him for the good of themselves. Ibsen shows the foolishness of the majority of people by showing how easily swayed they are from the truth. Dr. Stockmann, who has always been known as one who truly carries the interests of the people and his nation to his heart, is cast out by the town he meant to save.
The compact majority was in favor of the mayor and the greedy leaders of their town rather than one lone man standing up for all that is just and right in the world. Despite knowing that he meant the best for the town they went with those that had greater power. They believed in the corrupt, backwards men of society, and cast a patriot out of their ranks. Even those select few who knew that Dr. Stockmann was right would not turn a hand to help him. They would not dare to stand up to the majority even though they knew that a good man had been turned out.
Ibsen shows, by this, that even one’s greatest friends can turn on you when they are threatened by enough people. He shows the disloyal nature of people by showing how the majority sways them. It is a domino effect; the majority is swayed by the Officials, the minority by the majority. Only one man would stand up for what was right and true and he was crushed by the might of who he thought would rally behind him. This illustrates a cruel truth to anyone who may see or read the classic play. That truth is a simple one: those who do right in the world are never rewarded.
The shining morals of his character shine through to the end. Despite opposition and hatred towards him, Dr. Stockmann continues on. Against a backdrop of darkness his light glimmers ever brighter. Ibsen shows that, even though the majority is a society of imbeciles, easily swayed at the drop of a hat, that maybe, someday, that will change. He shows us this with Dr. Stockmann’s creation of a school. Perhaps, one day, the majority will fall to the minority and the world will begin to change for the better. One can only dream.