An Enemy of the People

A Mass of Individuals: A Comparison of An Enemy of a People and Jaws 11th Grade

Henry Ibsen’s 1882 play Enemy of the People and Steven Spielberg’s iconic film Jaws both a address the same central theme: a power struggle between the needs of the individual and the needs of the majority. As Thomas attempts to persuade the citizens of the city to close the Baths, their economic livelihood, his argument evolves from a public-health plea to a barratement of a daft people, which he iconically labels “the tyranny of the majority.” Jaws, based on this play, centers around Sheriff Brody, a character who, like Thomas, sympathizes with the victimized individual. Brody, however, goes through significantly more inner-turmoil related to his decision, evolving into his decisiveness. In Enemy of the People, Thomas stands as the sole advocate for the needs of the individual, using a technical and increasingly-disdainful tone to communicate his argument and express his contempt for the “tyranny of the majority.” However, this style of argumentation, singular in its perspective and hostile in its appeal, simply alienates Thomas from his town and defeats his ultimate purpose of saving the people at risk. Conversely, in Jaws the champion of the individual is represented by Sheriff Martin Brody who derives his passion not from...

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