Abstract

Arthur Miller's adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People is about a doctor who becomes “the people's enemy” after discovering that the water of the public baths is polluted. The play, which resonated with the American political context of the 1950s, belongs in the tradition of science plays. It addresses major political and ethical issues about the links between science and truth. Beyond adaptation as a significant artistic gesture, the author shows how Miller's political approach to science reflects his culture of the mid-twentieth century, based on the philosophical framework of the Enlightenment and the rise of experiment-based empirical science in seventeenth-century Europe. A contemporary reading of An Enemy of the People including a postmodern rejection of rationality suggests that it resonates very differently today, illustrating through science the most worrisome dangers of our time.

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