An Enemy of the People: Act 3 Continued-2
Summary – Act Three continued
Aslaksen and Hovstad distance themselves from him and Thomas asks what this means. Hovstad replies that he (Thomas) presented his case in a false light. Thomas says it is all true and can prove it. Hovstad says he is sorry but will not and dare not print it. Thomas says he controls what goes in the paper but Aslaksen says no, the subscribers do and Peter says ‘fortunately’.
Aslaksen argues that it will mean ruin for the town if his article appears and Peter asks for his hat and stick again, and Thomas returns them. Thomas asks Hovstad if he definitely will not print his article and Hovstad says no, if only for the sake of his family. Peter then brings out an envelope and says it is an official statement and leaves it with Hovstad. Hovstad thanks him and says he will see it appears.
Thomas tells Aslaksen to print his article as a pamphlet at his own expense and wants 5,000 copies. Aslaksen says he will not do this as it would be ‘flying in the face of public opinion’. Thomas asks for the article back and says he will organise a mass meeting and read it out. This way, he says, everybody will hear the truth. Peter, Aslaksen and Billing say he will not find anyone to let him have such a hall.
Kate asks why they have suddenly turned against him and Thomas says it is because the men in the town ‘are a lot of old women – like you’. She says she will show him an old woman can be a man ‘for once’ and says she will stand by him from now on. He thanks her and says if he cannot find a hall he will hire a drum and march through the town, and will read the article on every street corner.
The other men question whether he will get anyone to march with him, but Kate says the children will and she will stand by and watch. Thomas tells the men he is ready to cross swords with them and they will see who wins: them with their official statement or him with the truth.
Analysis – Act Three continued
The need for support of the individual, and the idea that one cannot act alone to bring about change, are for the first time made evident at the end of this section as Kate offers to stand by Thomas when she sees the others turn against him.
The truth is portrayed as the central concern as Thomas strives to reveal it to the public, and Hovstad, Aslaksen and Peter attempt to stop him. By withdrawing their help, the press is also revealed to be corrupt and dependent on the views of the subscribers rather than the tenets of truth and fairness.