41 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

An Enemy of the People

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1882

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Act Summaries & Analyses

Act III Summary

ct III opens in the People’s Messenger office. Hovstad sits at his desk, and Billing enters carrying Thomas’s story about the Baths. Thomas follows shortly behind, and the three men discuss how the report will damage the local leaders; after the argument with his brother, Thomas is fully on board with Hovstad and Billing’s plan to use the pollution as a way to dismantle the entire local government. Aslaksen, who owns the printing office where the newspaper is published, sits in the next room, but the men are careful to keep their discussion out of his earshot.

Thomas leaves, feeling confident that, despite his brother’s threats, Hovstad, Billing, and Aslaksen will help him spread the word about the pollution and will work together to have the Baths’ pipe system changed. With Thomas gone, the men’s true thoughts start to be revealed. Neither particularly cares about the pollution. Hovstad and Billing want to use Thomas as a political agitator to take on the local government. Aslaksen, meanwhile, starts to worry that Thomas is being too aggressive and will upset the social order of the town.

When Aslaksen leaves, Hovstad and Billing express their dislike for him; they only remain cordial because Aslaksen owns the printing press that allows the paper to exist.