An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Springs

The poisoned and toxic Springs represent a body politic that is infected by intolerance and a lack of freedom of expression.

Stockmann's report

The report represents truth and science; its suppression is an indicator of the town's unwillingness to accept either. The continual allusions to the report and its continual blocking reinforce the way truth is treated in the town.

Allegory -Anti-communism

Arthur Miller interpreted and staged the play as an allegory of the anti-communist hysteria sweeping through America. It thus resembles his own work, The Crucible, in its application of current concerns to a different time and place.

Motif- Words and Writing

The play is filled with newspaper articles, the report, proposed statements, and letters/notices. All of these are used in service of power; the written word is not able to be used in the service of the truth unless the powers that be allow it. Letters and notices come kicking the Stockmanns out of their house and firing Stockmann from his profession. The report is unpublished and thus lifeless. Peter wants Stockmann to write up a statement disavowing his earlier assertions. Clearly writing is not able to promote truth or knowledge.