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Views & Reviews Medical Classic

An Enemy of the People

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 26 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1509
  1. Anna Shore, FY1 house officer, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds

An Enemy of the People could have been subtitled A medic against the majority. A damning indictment of bourgeois complacency, it was partly a response to criticism of Ibsen’s 1881 play Ghosts, which had scandalised contemporaries with its portrayal of a case of congenital syphilis in a well to do family. The furious reaction of both the conservative and liberal press to Ghosts was to Ibsen evidence of moral hypocrisy latent in late 19th century society. It provoked him into writing An Enemy of the People, which dramatises the unthinking reaction of …

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