Henrik Ibsen is primarily associated with realism, and the Romantic era had waned by the time he was writing. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify numerous Romantic elements in his plays. These are quite pronounced in An Enemy of the People. Doctor Thomas Stockmann can be considered a Romantic hero on the basis of his idealism and defiance of social conventions. In his hubris, which ultimately leads to his downfall, he can be associated with earlier Romantic heroes such as Lord Byron’s Manfred and Childe Harold or Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein. In standing with her father on the side of truth and against corrupting influences, Petra Stockmann is a female Romantic hero.
In the ecological themes that dominate the play, Ibsen can be considered as drawing on the prominent Romantic undercurrent of reverence for nature. Even though Stockmann is a doctor who relies on scientific evidence, his holistic attitude toward environment and health associates him with Romantic attitudes that support a respect—even a reverence—for the purity and healing character of nature. As he attempts to protect both nature and human beings from the despoiling influence of the wealthy exploiters, his actions connect his personal concerns with his advocacy for the greater social and moral good.