Conformity and Obedience in An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen

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Conformity and Obedience in An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, is the story of a man named Dr. Thomas Stockman, who becomes a deviant to society. After discovering that the waters in the town’s baths are polluted, Dr. Stockman tries to spread the news and have the baths shut down. He assumes that the townspeople will be happy to hear his news, since the water is what has been making everyone sick. However, many people in the town aren’t very happy to hear such news, and before Dr, Stockman realizes it, the entire town has turned against him. Stockman criticizes the townspeople for this, and even refers to them as “street curs.” What made the town turn against him? Did they honestly all
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The mayor pressured the people into turning against Dr. Stockman by telling them his opinion. The townspeople, knowing the mayor’s authority, are obedient to him.
In the beginning there were two people from the town who supported Dr. Stockman: Aslaksen and Hovstad, the editor and printer from the newspaper. However, after finding out that everyone else, including the mayor, opposes Dr. Stockman, they change their minds. Basically, Aslaksen and Hovstad conform in compliance; they yield to group pressure as to avoid punishment for not conforming. The punishment in this case would be having their homes and jobs taken away, as eventually happens to Dr. Stockman. This quote from one of the participants in Asch’s study closely relates to Alasken and Hovstad’s actions: “I did not want to be apart form the group, I did not want to look like a fool… Scientifically speaking, I was acting improperly, but my feeling of not wanting to contradict the group overcame me.” As for the rest of the townspeople, they basically conform publicly, as to avoid any conflict with the rest of the group and the mayor. Also, the baths are the towns main source of income, and without the baths, the town would most likely fall to ruins. I think that they are all afraid that Dr. Stockman’s discoveries would result in the

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