A small forest town is trying to promote itself as a place for tourists to come enjoy the therapeutic hot springs and unspoiled nature. Dr. Stockmann, however, makes the inconvenient discovery that the nature around the village is not so unspoiled. In fact, the runoff from the local tanning mill has contaminated the water to a dangerous degree. The town fathers argue that cleaning up the mess would be far too expensive and the publicity would destroy the town's reputation, so therefore news of the pollution should be suppressed. Dr. Stockmann decides to fight to get the word out to the people, but receives as very mixed reaction.