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The Burgomaster has his own reasons for suppressing Dr. Stockmann's discovery. Outwardly, he seems to be concerned with the welfare of the town and its people who depend on the baths for their livelihood. He states that the cost of the repairs and the two- year closing of the baths will cause hardship to the people of the town. In truth, the Burgomaster wants to cover up his own blunder. It was he who insisted that both the bath buildings and the waterworks be placed where they are presently situated. Not wanting to accept the responsibility for the contamination, he wants to hush up the matter at all costs so that his image remains untainted. He demands that his brother, Dr. Stockmann, recants his allegations and supports the decisions of the Board of Directors. When the doctor refuses, the Burgomaster relieves him of his duties as the Medical Officer of the Baths.
In this act, Ibsen begins to focus on the basic conflicts of the play - the triumph of truth over falsehood and the willingness of an individual to stand up against corrupt bureaucrats. Dr. Stockmann bravely decides to fight the authorities, including his own brother, and uphold the truth at any cost to himself or his family.