Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Enemy of the People” as Want to Read:
An Enemy of the People
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Enemy of the People

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  8,087 ratings  ·  526 reviews
An Enemy of the People concerns the actions of Doctor Thomas Stockmann, a medical officer charged with inspecting the public baths on which the prosperity of his native town depends. He finds the water to be contaminated. When he refuses to be silenced, he is declared an enemy of the people. Stockmann served as a spokesman for Ibsen, who felt that his plays gave a true, if
paper, 144 pages
Published September 22nd 1997 by Faber Faber (first published 1882)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,087 ratings  ·  526 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Ahmad Sharabiani
En Folkefiende = An Enemy of the People, Henrik Ibsen
An Enemy of the People is an 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen wrote it in response to the public outcry against his previous play, Ghosts, which challenged the hypocrisy of 19th-century morality. An Enemy of the People tells the story of a man who dares to speak an unpalatable truth, and is punished for it. However, Ibsen took a somewhat skeptical view of his protagonist, suggesting that he may have gone too far in his ze
David Schaafsma
Norwegian Henrik Ibsen’s The Enemy of the People, first produced in 1882, is what we might now call a “whistleblower” tale. Dr. Stockman, brother of the town’s “Burgomaster,” Peter, investigates the source of the resort town’s fortunes, The Baths, and discovers it is being polluted, and for the health of locals and visitors, recommends that it be shut down. Dr. Stockman becomes “the enemy of the people” in this play because he stands against the town’s position that The Baths must continue regar ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honesty and integrity are all fine and good until somebody’s wallet gets hurt.

So says Henrik Ibsen in his masterful 1880s drama An Enemy of the People. First published in 1882, the drama describes a small town in Norway that has become successful as a hot springs spa resort catering to the needs of the unhealthy.

Dr. Stockmann, once a proud and enthusiastic proponent of the spas, had a bad feeling about the purity of the water and did some testing. The results of the tests showed severe contami
If it came out today, everyone would immediately read it as referring to climate change and climate change sceptics. Doctor Stockmann has taken up a position where he's responsible for monitoring the baths in the little spa town he's just moved to. He analyses water samples and is shocked to find that they're a major health hazard: naively, he believes people are going to thank him for making this important discovery.

But he hasn't thought through the economic consequences. Fixing the problem wo
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thinking of the times we live in caused a spontaneous re-read of this masterpiece. I understand it is not as popular outside my native Norway as Ibsen's other works, but I sincerely urge every soul do give it a try. It is quite short, and it speaks volumes about some of the greatest problems facing our present-day society, despite being written in the 19th century.

Mostly a play about truth, An Enemy of the People takes place in a small Norwegian hamlet where the residing doctor realises that the

Ibsen’s play "An Enemy of the People" [En folkefiende] from 1882 focuses on a small town where a local doctor discovers that the renowned spa has polluted water. It becomes a complicated fact as different people in the town take a stand. In a sense the play is about a whistle-blower. However, after initially very much enjoying the play (after all, nothing much has changed in the last 140 years so there are numerous parallels in modern times including the present) the whole drama turns into a far
No rating.

I read this book in high school. It was a set book. And I hated it. Not because the writing is bad or because I felt it was some kind of political analogy but because it was text book to me. Reading it was a chore I would have preferred not to do. At all. Like ironing clothes or emptying my cat's litter box. Bleurgh!!!

I don't even recall most of it. All I remember was lots of sewage. Lots of opposition. And the groaning drone of my high school English teacher (who didn't like me, btw)
As usual, Ibsen cuts to the chase. It is both enlightening and disheartening to discover that the issues of political leadership and environmental stewardship which inspired his writing 135 years ago still dog us in the 21st century. Based on his other works, I was surprised at the manner in which this story unfolded. The story did not grip me in the manner of A Doll's House and Ghosts but his characters are wonderful, nonetheless.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, plays
Dr. Thomas Stockmann is a template for those who stand up against the system - alone, ruthless and with absolute morality.

A society and the people who sit in its helm (corporate heads, government, politicians etc) get into a relationship that looks for immediate contentment and superficial sense of accomplishment. We see this mentality when religion, power hungry, propaganda or downright stupidity get involved and pushes science, morals, goodwill, innovation, development, logic away from the pu
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In response to the poor reception of his play "Ghosts," Ibsen wrote "An Enemy of the People." Dr. Stockmann discovers that the Municipal Baths in his hometown are contaminated, and believes he is doing good for the community. He is declared an enemy of the people when he addresses the ignorant and powerful majority. At this point, Dr. Stockmann discovers a far more serious problem.
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: drama-on-stage
Here's my review from two years ago which makes me cringe: "Read this in high school. Think it was the Arthur Miller "translation." [Our teacher told us Miller did not read Norwegian, but got someone who did to do a literal translation which he then edited] In any case I don't remember the dramaturgy or the language, only the theme: the conflict between public health and making money in business. The latter should not be mistaken for "economic development." The latter term, as used by certain ec ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC radio 4 - Drama:
Alfred Molina, Adam Godley, Susannah Fielding, Ian Ogilvy and James Callis are directed by Martin Jarvis in Henrik Ibsen's riveting 1882 thriller.

A small Norwegian spa town relies on the local spring for its prosperity, but Dr Thomas Stockmann is concerned the waters may be contaminated. Could disease be spreading? If so, would the community's livelihood be jeopardised?

Episode 2 of 2

Alfred Molina, Adam Godley, Susannah Fielding and Ian Ogilvy lead an all start cast. Dr S
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-norway
With the phrase “enemy of the people” being quite in vogue at the moment with the current occupant of the White House, this seemed like a good play to explore. In short, it’s the story of Thomas Stockmann, a doctor in a small Norwegian town, who has discovered that the town’s main source of income, its newly installed baths, are full of poisons that have been sickening people for months. Being the earnest type he quickly informs his brother Peter, who is also the town’s mayor, in addition to in ...more
Biblio Curious
How can this one be so different from Ghosts? I enjoyed Ghosts immensely because of it's poetic insight towards different points of view. Pillars is far more political, about resources and maybe double-dealings is the word? This would make a fantastic live theatre production, it's themes would seep into the audience causing lively debates about the how's and why's. In some ways, this play is relevant today and conversation about it can turn into a discussion about politics and even forms of medi ...more

Description: A small Norwegian spa town relies on the local spring for its prosperity, but Dr Thomas Stockmann is concerned the waters may be contaminated. Could disease be spreading? If so, would the community's livelihood be jeopardised?

This new version of the play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.

Dr Thomas Stockmann Alfred Molina
Peter Stockman Adam Godley
Catherine Rosalind Ayres
Petra Susannah Fielding
Hovstad James Callis
Aslaksen Matthew Wolf
Billing Darren Richards
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
How it could be interesting if you work with your classmates as group to prepare a nice memory and make a worthy work for university...!😊
Matt Luedke
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a translation by Arthur Miller, and though it goes by pretty quickly it sticks with you for a long time. It has a touch of humor, but is a mostly serious look at how the truth, especially when it comes to environmental issues, can sometimes be in no one's political favor. "Inconvenient," if you will.

This was written in 1882, 70 years before choloroflourocarbons started messing with the ozone layer, 100 years before climate change was starting to be taken seriously-- then dropped because o
Dr. Stockmann is a naive doctor and scientist. He has discovered why visitors are getting sick when they come to the town's baths. The water is contaminated. He determines to tell the town. However, his brother, the mayor, does not want this broadcasted and is determined to stop the doctor's announcement of this problem. The mayor appeals to the economic welfare of the people which, as you can guess, is successful. The people of the town do not want to hear about the problem if it requires payin ...more
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone sick of party politics would probably like this book, as there are some fantastic quotes inside against them.

Personally I don't think it was one of the best of Ibsen's work, although looking at it form the viewpoint of the play being a rebuttal to the outrage over his play "Ghosts" makes it pretty funny. It is definitely one of his simpler plays, with one main story and nothing really winding off of it.

I'm not so fond of the characters, like Petra and Mrs. Stockmann, who seemed to bend to
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm at once reminded of my college studies in epidemiology, where John Snow discovered the source of cholera being contaminated waters. I wanted to scream at the people to listen to the doctor. He knows what he's talking about.

And how true it is that just because the masses agree on something, doesn't make it right.............there are definitely more idiots in this world than intelligent people. Or maybe there are a few more intelligent people, but they choose to act like idiots for reasons o
An Enemy of the People is an interesting play, mainly because it applies so much to attitudes about some subjects nowadays in modern times (environment issues- are we destroying the ozone layer?). It is very telling of the hypocrisy of the government and of politics. In thid play, the main character discovers that the famous hot springs in his own town are polluted and could cause many people to become sick. However, the somewhat corrupt political system denies this from an economic standpoint w ...more
Dora Okeyo
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a course text for high school students in Kenya now- and I often heard my Mom make references to it and the main character Dr. Stockmann, plenty of times.
When I started reading it- the pace and also the concern of the characters got me thinking and asking the same questions that he does- 'if something is wrong, should I keep murm about it, all because a bunch of people benefit from it-in the name of society or community well being?'
This is the first book I have read written by Henri
Michael Perkins
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Ibsen, along with Peer Gynt.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angela by: school
Shelves: plays, books-2015
Read for class, so no review. But, this book has constantly been on my mind so I changed the rating to 5 stars.
The truth that this book pointed out to me and by the way this truth has yet to be proven wrong to me is that "the people" are fucking idiots. Individual persons can be so brilliant you can't believe it. The larger the mass of "people" the fucking dumber they get. "The people" will believe anything they are told regardless of how absurd. It's sad but very true. Take the state of New Jersey. We are continualy fucked by our elected officials. We cry and complain that we're being fucked every day. ...more
Katie Dunn
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this tragedy -- is it a tragedy? It reminded me of Brecht's Galileo, but ... seemed less tragic? The refusal to recant, holding on to the end, bringing his family down with him...but the catharsis so strong that I never think the doctor fell...
Perhaps it is actually that he just lacked any sort of realization. But then he successfully brought me into the delusion, if you must call it that, with him. As a scientist at heart, I couldn't help but be moved by his idealism.
Richard Knight
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A play as relevant back then as it is now, An Enemy of the People is vintage Ibsen. A doctor discovers that there is something rotten in his town, and when he speaks out for the benefit of his fellow man, they turn on him. A towering work. Not Ibsen's best, but up there.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books

To be honest, if I didn't have an exam on this for my class, I would never read it. But the thing is that, it wasn't a total torture, to some extent I enjoyed it and I'm really happy that I could persuade myself to finish it. I'm proud of myself ;)
Dec 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
read this one in high school
*This is not the edition of An Enemy of the People that I read. I read from a collection entitled The Works of Henrik Ibsen published by Black's Readers Service.

This is my first Ibsen. I really loved it, and I plan to read more of his plays.

In An Enemy of the People there is so much conflict but also so much optimism. The characters are well drawn, and the dialogue is lively, humorous, and dignified. I just love the main character Dr. Thomas Stockmann who is not only a physician but also holds
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Societal Pressures on Opinions 1 1 Aug 08, 2019 09:22PM  
Lessons to be learned 1 3 Sep 05, 2018 02:50AM  
An Enemy of the People 1 2 Sep 02, 2018 11:00PM  
Politics in An Enemy of the People 1 1 Aug 13, 2018 01:52PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Father
  • Incident at Vichy
  • Man and Superman
  • Erasmus Montanus or Rasmus Berg
  • Speed-the-Plow
  • An American Daughter
  • Beyond the Horizon
  • Summer and Smoke
  • Chapter Two
  • The District Governor's Daughters
  • The Royal Hunt Of The Sun
  • Iphigenia / Phaedra / Athaliah
  • Metamorphoses
See similar books…
Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major Norwegian playwright largely responsible for the rise of modern realistic drama. He is often referred to as the "father of modern drama." Ibsen is held to be the greatest of Norwegian authors and one of the most important playwrights of all time, celebrated as a national symbol by Norwegians.

His plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when Victorian valu
“You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.” 327 likes
“The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools?” 170 likes
More quotes…