41 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1882

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Act II

Act Summaries & Analyses

Act II Summary

The next morning, Morten Kiil arrives at the Stockmann house. Mr. Kiil is Katherine’s adoptive father and the owner of the tannery that is leaching dangerous microbes into the water supply. He has heard about the contaminated Baths from Petra and believes that Thomas is making up stories about tiny “beasts” in the water. Since Kiil cannot see the pollution with his own eyes, he finds the concept ridiculous; he leaves the house convinced that Thomas has invented the story to teach the local authorities a lesson.

Hovstad enters, eager to discuss what he will publish about the pollution in the People’s Messenger. He has thought about the story all night and concluded that the contamination will act as a springboard for a full-scale takedown of the local authorities who developed the plan for the Baths. Hovstad believes that the wealthy families in the community have too much power and that they represent the real “contamination” in the town. Thomas agrees that the ruling class makes some poor decisions, such as routing the pipes for the Baths through the ground near the tannery, but he argues that they are wise men who have the community’s best interests in mind.