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In 1881, Ibsen wrote Ghosts, a play that gave rise to considerable controversy, for the public found the drama to be indecent and unpalatable. An Enemy of the People, written in 1882, is often viewed as a reaction to the response to Ghosts; it is a kind of rejoinder to public (or mob) opinion. Ibsen was convinced that the mob could be influenced very easily by demagogues. In An Enemy of the People, characters like the Burgomaster, Hovstad, and Aslaksen exploit mass psychology to the hilt and succeed in having the public judge a good citizen as an enemy of the people.
In several of his plays, Ibsen portrays the politics of small Norwegian towns. In them, he clearly develops his belief that majority rule is seldom honest or correct; additionally, he reveals that the majority can never bring about any radical change in a prevalent social order. In essence, Ibsen shows that politics are demoralizing, in spite of their influence.