In the play An Enemy of the People there are many social and political issues that Henrik Ibsen touches upon. The one that I find most pressing is the social problem of “group-think”- that a people en masse are inclined to believe whatever authorities tell them. The population in the play never questions their sources of information- The People’s Messenger or the mayor- about the validity of the facts that they present but instead just follow them blindly. The third citizen in regard to Dr.Stockman’s opinion even states “But he is in the wrong; it said so in the People’s Messenger (51)”. Because the mayor and the “liberal-minded press” have already told the citizens how to feel about the subject of the pollution of the Baths, they are not even willing to listen to Dr.Stockman’s opposing opinion on the Baths and yell at him while he is giving his speech at the town meeting: “Don’t talk about the Baths! We won’t hear you! None of that!” (56).
Furthermore, the people of the town are so scared of public opinion that they dare not go against it for fear of being estranged, much like Dr. Stockman is because of his difference of opinion. Dr. Stockman is evicted by his landlord, Morten and Ejlif are sent home from school, and Petra, Dr. Stockman, and Captain Horster are all given notice simply because the landlord, the teacher, and their bosses did “not dare do otherwise- on account of his fellow citizens- out of regard for public opinion (68).” The true problem in the play is that individuals are not allowed without social barriers to say and think what they please without fear of being ostracized. Dr. Stockman and his family are estranged form society for going against public officials and this fact of life keeps the citizens from ever thinking differently or forming their own opinions. Perhaps if the society Dr. Stockman lived in were more liberal minded, the citizens would have been able to see the doctor’s point of view, and he would have found more support for his position on the Baths. At the very least, Dr. Stockman, Petra, and Captain Horster would not have been fired because of their difference of opinion, which has nothing to do with their performance at work.