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Act III again emphasizes that most individuals are governed by their own selfish motives, ignoring what is good for society. At first Billing is thrilled about Dr. Stockmann's article and envisions a revolution in the town. He sees the Town Council being ousted and dreams of becoming the Secretary of the Council himself.
Hovstad still pretends to espouse Dr. Stockmann's cause so that he can increase the circulation of his newspaper. It is obvious that he is a hypocrite who only cares about the Messenger making money. He is going to print the book that Petra has translated, even though he finds its contents unacceptable; he just wants to please his readers, rather that standing up to what he believes. All his talk of emancipation of the downtrodden and liberal democracy is a convenient ploy to serve his self-interest.
Always trying to please others, Aslaksen deliberately keeps a low and moderate profile. He wants to make sure that he pleases everyone so he can protect his own vested interest as the Chairman of the Homeowners' Association. When the Burgomaster tells him that the repair of the baths will be costly to the middle-class homeowners, Aslaksen quickly abandons his support of the doctor. Thinking it will make him more popular, he openly takes the side of the Burgomaster and refuses to print the doctor's article in the newspaper or as a pamphlet.
During the act, the Burgomaster proves that he is a clever and cunning politician, knowing how to swing public opinion by referencing their pocketbooks. He succeeds in weaning away Hovstad and Aslaksen from support of Dr. Stockmann, convincing them that the repair and two-year closure of the baths will bring financial ruin to the town. Like Billing, Hovstad, and Aslaksen, the Burgomaster is a hypocrite; his real concern is to save his face and his positions of Burgomaster and Chairman of the Baths Committee.
Unfortunately, Dr. Stockmann has no awareness or understanding of the fickleness of the public. He cannot imagine that the compact majority will not see his side and support him. Even though he has just seen how quickly Billing, Hovstad, and Aslaksen desert his cause, he vows to fight his battle alone and to the end.