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The Burgomaster comes to the newspaper office to have a private talk with Hovstad and Aslaksen. He praises Aslaksen for his moderation and compliments him for being a wise and prudent leader of the middle-class. He then implores Aslaksen not to print the doctor's article. He points out that the alterations suggested by Dr. Stockmann will cost two or three thousand crowns, and the burden will fall on the middle-class taxpayers. The middle-class will also be hurt when the baths are closed for two years for the repairs. Aslaksen has not previously considered these burdens; since he represents the middle-class homeowners, he must think about their welfare first.
The Burgomaster expresses his surprise at the support extended by Aslaksen and Hovstad to Dr. Stockmann. He then hands over a short statement of the facts, as they appear from a "sober minded standpoint." He also expresses his desire to make any needed minor repairs that are not financially damaging. As Dr. Stockmann arrives to read the proofs of his article, the Burgomaster hides in Billing's room, not wanting to be seen by his brother. Aslaksen pretends to be busy as the doctor enters the composing room.
Aslaksen will not even look at Dr. Stockmann as he tells him the proofs are not yet ready. Hovstad adds that it may be awhile before they choose to publish the doctor's article. After listening to the Burgomaster, they now have no time for Dr. Stockmann, who is still under the impression that his article will be immediately published and that the people will make a procession in his honor. Hovstad is about to tell the doctor the truth when Mrs. Stockmann appears. Dr. Stockmann is indignant over his wife's presence and her claims that Hovstad is enticing her husband away from his family. She warns that the doctor will surely lose his job if the article is published.
Realizing that everything is now against him, Dr. Stockmann composes himself. He decides to publish his article as a pamphlet at his own cost. Aslaksen, however, refuses to print the pamphlet, fearing to go against public opinion. Dr. Stockmann takes his article and tells them that he will call a meeting of the people and read it aloud. The Burgomaster rudely tells him that no one in the town will let him use their hall for such a purpose. When Mrs. Stockmann declares that she will stand by her husband, Dr. Stockmann is encouraged and announces that he will read his article on every street corner. The Burgomaster is distraught over his brother's claim. He is still determined that the citizens will not hear about the contamination.