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The Wild Duck By Henrik Ibsen. The father of modern drama.

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1 The Wild Duck By Henrik Ibsen

2 The father of modern drama

3 Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien (Norway) in 1828 and grew up as the oldest of five siblings. His parents were the merchant Knud Ibsen and Marichen Ibsen. Henrik Ibsen ( ) is one of the very greatest names in world literature. He was a central figure in the modern break-through in the intellectual life of Europe, and is considered the father of modern drama. His plays are still highly topical, and continue to be staged in all parts of the world. It is said that Ibsen is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare. He is called "the father of modern drama" because his extremely influential plays dealing with domestic life dealt with some of the most shocking issues of the day - venereal disease, a wife abandoning her husband and children to discover her own worth as a human being, suicide, etc. He also wrote a few verse dramas, among them "Peer Gynt“ Henrik Ibsen ( ) published his last drama, "When We Dead Awaken", in 1899, and he called it a dramatic epilogue. It was also destined to be the epilogue of his life's work, because illness prevented him from writing more. For half of a century he had devoted his life and his energies to the art of drama, and he had won international acclaim as the greatest and most influential dramatist of his time. He knew that he had gone further than anyone in putting Norway on the map

4 Henrik Ibsen was also a major poet, and he published a collection of poems in However, drama was the focus of his real lyrical spirit. For a period of many hard years, he faced harsh conflict. But he finally triumphed over the conservatism and aesthetic prejudices of the contemporary critics and audiences. More than anyone, he gave theatrical art a new vitality by bringing into European bourgeois drama an ethical gravity, a psychological depth, and a social significance which the theater had lacked since the days of Shakespeare. In this manner, Ibsen strongly contributed to giving European drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek tragedies. Norwegian playwright, one of "the four great ones" with Alexander Kielland, Jonas Lie and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson of the 19th-century Norwegian literature. Ibsen is generally acknowledged as the founder of modern prose drama. He moved away from the Romantic style, and brought the problems and ideas of the day onto the stage of his time. Ibsen's famous plays, Brand (1866 ) and Peer Gynt (1867), were originally not intended for the stage; they were "reading dramasAlexander Kielland Jonas LieBjørnstjerne Bjørnson His plays:_ When we dead awaken, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Little Eyolf, Peer Gynt, A doll’s house ….

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6 The Wild Duck is a tragedy with comic episodes. Henrik Ibsen himself characterized the play as a tragicomedy. It depicts ordinary life realistically instead of romantically and sentimentally, a revolutionary concept in Ibsen's time. In this manner, Ibsen strongly contributed to giving European drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek tragedies." Ibsen wrote the play in Dano-Norwegian, a mixture of the Danish language and Norwegian dialects.Setting The time is the early 1880s. The action takes place over three days in an unidentified town in Norway. Act I takes place in the home of Hkon Werle, a wealthy businessman. The rest of the play takes place in the apartment of photographer Hjalmar Ekdal and his family. The time is the early 1880s. The action takes place over three days in an unidentified town in Norway. Act I takes place in the home of Hkon Werle, a wealthy businessman. The rest of the play takes place in the apartment of photographer Hjalmar Ekdal and his family. The Wild Duck is a tragedy with comic episodes. Henrik Ibsen himself characterized the play as a tragicomedy. It depicts ordinary life realistically instead of romantically and sentimentally, a revolutionary concept in Ibsen's time. In this manner, Ibsen strongly contributed to giving European drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek tragedies." Ibsen wrote the play in Dano-Norwegian, a mixture of the Danish language and Norwegian dialects.Setting The time is the early 1880s. The action takes place over three days in an unidentified town in Norway. Act I takes place in the home of Hkon Werle, a wealthy businessman. The rest of the play takes place in the apartment of photographer Hjalmar Ekdal and his family. The time is the early 1880s. The action takes place over three days in an unidentified town in Norway. Act I takes place in the home of Hkon Werle, a wealthy businessman. The rest of the play takes place in the apartment of photographer Hjalmar Ekdal and his family.

7 1. Hkon Werle. 2. Mrs. Werle 3. Gregers Werle 4. Old Ekdal 5. Hjalmar Ekdal 6. Gina Hansen Ekdal 7. Hedvig 8. Mrs. Bertha Srby 9. Doctor Relling 10. Others (Molvik, Pettersen, Jensen, Grberg, Chamberlain Balle, Chamberlain Flor, Chamberlain Kaspersen, Porter, Two Sweethearts, Ship Captain, Madam Eriksen, Porter's Wife).

8 Gregers Werle, Hjalmar Ekdal. Protagonists: Gregers Werle, Hjalmar Ekdal. Hkon Werle: Hkon Werle: Wealthy businessman whose affair with a young woman in the distant past sets in motion the action of the play. Mrs. Werle: Mrs. Werle: Late wife of Hkon Werle. The memory of her plays a role in the rancorous relationship between Hkon and his son, Gregers Werle. Gregers Werle: Gregers Werle: Son of Hkon Werle. Young Werle is little, mean- spirited(un fair), and vengeful. Rather than right wrongs, he creates them. In his pursuit(chaste) of truth and idealism, he alienates himself from his father, precipitates turmoil in the Ekdal household, and indirectly causes the death of Hedvig Ekdal. Although he has laid bare a shocking truth about his father namely, his dalliance with Gina Ekdal in the distant past his vision of reality blots out the good that his father has done to redeem himself. It also fails to acknowledge the damage his meddlesome fact-finding could and did do to the Ekdal family. His only motivation is to expose he truth, whatever the cost. Ironically, he remains blind to the truth about himself to the very end of the play.

9 Old Ekdal: Old Ekdal: Disgraced(shamed) former business associate of Hkon Werle. Hjalmar Ekdal: Hjalmar Ekdal: Son of Old Ekdal. Hjalmar is self-centered, lazy, and laughably mediocre. As a family man and provider, he relies on the benefactions of Werle, the hard work of Gina, and the quixotic dream of a revolutionary invention to get from one day to the next. His character begins to reveal itself early on, in Act 1, when he is too ashamed to acknowledge the presence of his father at the Werle dinner party. Although he feels awkward and tongue-tied at the gathering and keeps to himself except for his conversation with Gregers, he tells his family after he arrives home that the guests coaxed him to recite something but that he denied them the pleasure. Gina Hansen Ekdal: Gina Hansen Ekdal: Wife of Hjalmar Ekdal. She is practical, hard- working, down-to-earth, and forgiving. Although homespun and unsophisticated, she has common sense and a firm grasp on reality. She is several years older than Hjalmar. Hedvig: Hedvig: Daughter of Hjalmar and Gina Ekdal. Hedvig is about to turn fourteen.

10 Mrs. Bertha Srby: Doctor Relling: Mrs. Bertha Srby: Hkon Werle's housekeeper and wife-to-be. Doctor Relling: Physician who lives in an apartment on the floor below Hjalmar Ekdal's apartment. Pettersen: Molvik: strong and failed theology student who lives with Relling. Pettersen: Servant in Hkon Werle's house. Jensen: Grberg: Jensen: Hired waiter in Hkon Werle's house. Grberg: Hkon Werle's bookkeeper. Chamberlain Balle: Chamberlain Balle: Guest at Hkon Werle's dinner party. Chamberlain Flor: Chamberlain Flor: Guest at Hkon Werle's dinner party. Chamberlain Kaspersen: Chamberlain Kaspersen: Guest at Hkon Werle's dinner party. Gentlemen: Porter: Porter's Wife: Gentlemen: Guests at Hkon Werle's dinner party. Porter: Doorkeeper at the apartment building where Hjalmar and Gina Ekdal live. Porter's Wife: Woman who cleans the apartment of Gregers Werle after he throws water on a stove fire.

11 Madam Eriksen: Keeper of a tavern frequented by Old Ekdal. Ship Captain: Seaman called "the Flying Dutchman," although he was not Dutch. He once lived in the Ekdal apartment. Hedvig plays with curios he left behind after he drowned at sea. Two Sweethearts: Couple whose photograph Gina Ekdal takes while her husband is out (referred to in Act III and at the beginning of Act IV). Aunts Who Reared Hjalmar Ekdal Mrs. Srby's Madam Eriksen: Keeper of a tavern frequented by Old Ekdal. Ship Captain: Seaman called "the Flying Dutchman," although he was not Dutch. He once lived in the Ekdal apartment. Hedvig plays with curios he left behind after he drowned at sea. Two Sweethearts: Couple whose photograph Gina Ekdal takes while her husband is out (referred to in Act III and at the beginning of Act IV). Aunts Who Reared Hjalmar Ekdal Mrs. Srby's Former Husband, a Veterinarian Who Beat Her

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13 Gregers now considers it his duty to get Hjalmar to see the truth behind his marriage so that he and Gina can live together in a marriage based on truth. Hjalmar confronts Gina with her background and asks her whether he is Hedvig's father. Gina replies that she does not know, and in distraction Hjalmar rejects Hedvig as his daughter. Meanwhile Gregers has convinced Hedvig that she can win back her father's love by sacrificing the wild duck that lives in the loft and to which she is deeply attached. But Hedvig shoots herself instead of the wild duck, and the play ends with general despair at the death of the child.

14 The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. The climax of The Wild Duck occurs in Act IV, according to the first definition, when Gina admits that she had a sexual encounter with Hkon Werle before her marriage to Hjalmar and that she does not know whether Hjalmar or Werle is the father of Hedvig. According to the second definition, the climax occurs when Hedvig commits suicide.

15 Hkon Werle Hkon Werle is the main source of conflict in the play. Consider that, preceding the action of the play, he: Fathe red Gregers Werle, who dedicates himself as a young adult to revealing ugly truths that cause domestic turmoil. Fathe red Gregers Werle, who dedicates himself as a young adult to revealing ugly truths that cause domestic turmoil. Had an antagonistic relationship with his wife, which helped motivate Gregers to turn against his father. Had an antagonistic relationship with his wife, which helped motivate Gregers to turn against his father. Took part in a business deal that disgraced and sent to jail Hjalmar Ekdal's father. Took part in a business deal that disgraced and sent to jail Hjalmar Ekdal's father. Conflict

16 Had an concern with a housekeeper, Gina Hansen, then arranged her marriage to Hjalmar Ekdal. During her first year of marriage, Gina Hansen Ekdal bore a child, Hedvig. Whether Hkon Werle or Gina's husband, Hjalmar, fathered it is unknown. When Hjalmar learns of his wife's past and his daughter's dubious parentage, he rejects Gina and Hedvig. Provided money for Hjalmar Ekdal's photography training and began employing Hjalmar's father after his release from prison, gestures that Gregers Werle believes were intended to buy the silence of the Ekdals regarding Hkon Werle's past behavior. Provided money for Hjalmar Ekdal's photography training and began employing Hjalmar's father after his release from prison, gestures that Gregers Werle believes were intended to buy the silence of the Ekdals regarding Hkon Werle's past behavior. Shot and wounded the wild duck that his servant gave to the Ekdals. Hedvig and Old Ekdal nurse the duck back to health and prize it as a pet. Hjalmar curses the animal after he learns about his wife's past. Gregers attempts to persuade Hedvig to shoot the duck as a way to win back the affection of her father. Shot and wounded the wild duck that his servant gave to the Ekdals. Hedvig and Old Ekdal nurse the duck back to health and prize it as a pet. Hjalmar curses the animal after he learns about his wife's past. Gregers attempts to persuade Hedvig to shoot the duck as a way to win back the affection of her father.

17 1.Realism vs. Idealism The major theme of the play is realism vs. idealism. From the very first act, the antagonism between the two concepts is established. Hakon Werle, the father, is a realist about life, love, and business. He has allowed Old Ekdal to take all the blame and go to prison for their plan to cut down lumber from public lands. He has encouraged Hialmar to marry Gina, Werle's mistress, so that he can extricate himself from the relationship. He is also able to see the worth in Ms. Sorby, his housekeeper, who is equally as realistic and truthful about life as he is.

18 In contrast to his father, Gregers is a total idealist. He has romantic, pre- conceived notions about how life, love, and business should be, and he believes that his father has broken all the rules. He is horrified that Hialmar, his friend, is married to Gina without knowing the truth. Wanting him to have a more ideal marriage, Gregers decides to tell Hialmar the truth about Gina; but Hialmar did not want to know the truth. He is not noble enough to forgive Gina for her past and even turns against Hedvig, convinced that she is Werle's daughter.

19 2. Self-Delusion(illusion): Gregers Werle sees himself as a man of character, noble and incorruptible, whose mission is to right wrongs and champion the cause of truth. Hjalmar Ekdal sees himself as a good husband, father, and son, as well as a brilliant inventor. In short, these two men are heroes to themselves. But neither recognizes his own shortcomings; neither sees himself as he truly is. Both men's visions of reality are no less faulty than demented Lieutenant Ekdal, who goes on hunting expeditions amid old Christmas trees in the garret. Both men's visions of reality are no less faulty than demented Lieutenant Ekdal, who goes on hunting expeditions amid old Christmas trees in the garret. Rather than face the reality of his business scandal, he escapes it entirely to live in an illusory world. And then there is Molvik. He repeatedly deludes himself into believing that alcohol will cure his ills, whatever they are. Rather than face the reality of his business scandal, he escapes it entirely to live in an illusory world. And then there is Molvik. He repeatedly deludes himself into believing that alcohol will cure his ills, whatever they are.

20 3. Concealing vs Revealing the Truth: In his extreme idealism, Gregers Werle believes in revealing the truth whatever the cost. In his extreme pragmatism, Doctor Relling believes in hiding the truth whenever it has the potential to cause harm. Ironically, while laying bare the truth about his father and the Ekdal family, Gregers fails to recognize the truth about himself that he is a meddlesome, vengeful snot. And, just as ironically, in recommending the concealment of truth, Relling presents the truth to Werle round, unvarnished, and naked.

21 4. Revenge: Revenge taints the actions of Gregers Werle. Although he declares that his conscience and his idealism drive his mission to expose the truth about his father, clearly his overriding goal is to punish his father. Gregers' animosity is a legacy of his childhood days, when he and his mother sided against Mr. Werle in a bitter rivalry. As the elder Werle tells Gregers in Act I, "You and she always held together. It was she who turned you against me, from the first."

22 5. Shame Shame motivates Hjalmar Werle on several occasions. In Act I, for example, he avoids acknowledging the presence of his disgraced father when the old man passes through Hkon Werle's study while Hjalmar is there after the dinner. Shame motivates Hjalmar Werle on several occasions. In Act I, for example, he avoids acknowledging the presence of his disgraced father when the old man passes through Hkon Werle's study while Hjalmar is there after the dinner. On the same occasion, when he speaks with Gregers Werle for the first time in at least sixteen years, he depicts his wife as "by no means without culture," in as much as she has learned from him as well as from the "remarkable men" the Ekdals know. On the same occasion, when he speaks with Gregers Werle for the first time in at least sixteen years, he depicts his wife as "by no means without culture," in as much as she has learned from him as well as from the "remarkable men" the Ekdals know. The fact is that Gina is common and unsophisticated and frequently mispronounces even simple words. When Hjalmar returns home from the dinner, he is ashamed to admit to his family that a dinner guest embarrassed him in front of others by exposing Hjalmar's lack of knowledge of wines. Instead, Hjalmar pretends that he enlightened the guests about wine vintages. The fact is that Gina is common and unsophisticated and frequently mispronounces even simple words. When Hjalmar returns home from the dinner, he is ashamed to admit to his family that a dinner guest embarrassed him in front of others by exposing Hjalmar's lack of knowledge of wines. Instead, Hjalmar pretends that he enlightened the guests about wine vintages.

23 Many events in the play foreshadow what follows them. For example, the mess Gregers makes of his room while building a stove fire foreshadows the mess he makes of the Ekdals' life. Perhaps the most obvious foreshadowing in the play occurs when Hjalmar emerges from the garret with a doubled-barreled pistol and warns Hedvig not to touch it because it still has a bullet in one of its barrels.

24  Gregers Werle's Smoky Room: After renting a room from Hjalmar Ekdal, Werle builds a fire in the stove and smokes up the room. Then he throws water on the fire, leaving a puddle on the floor. The mess he has made of the room appears to symbolize and foreshadow the mess he will make of the Ekdal family's life. After renting a room from Hjalmar Ekdal, Werle builds a fire in the stove and smokes up the room. Then he throws water on the fire, leaving a puddle on the floor. The mess he has made of the room appears to symbolize and foreshadow the mess he will make of the Ekdal family's life.  Garret (upper floor) : In this dark room behind sliding doors, Old Ekdal spends time hunting in a "forest" made of old Christmas trees. He and his son have stocked the room with rabbits to serve as bears that Old Ekdal shoots on his hunting expeditions. Hjalmar helps his father maintain the patch of "wilderness," which also contains pigeons, hens, and the wild duck. The garret symbolizes Old Ekdal's illusion of himself as a great hunter. In this dark room behind sliding doors, Old Ekdal spends time hunting in a "forest" made of old Christmas trees. He and his son have stocked the room with rabbits to serve as bears that Old Ekdal shoots on his hunting expeditions. Hjalmar helps his father maintain the patch of "wilderness," which also contains pigeons, hens, and the wild duck. The garret symbolizes Old Ekdal's illusion of himself as a great hunter.

25  The Wild Duck : While hunting, Hkon Werle shoots a wild duck but only wounds it. Werle's servant, Pettersen, later gives the duck to Old Ekdal, who takes it home and, with the help of his son and granddaughter, Hedvig, cares for it in the garret. Hedvig is especially fond of it. The duck symbolizes Hedvig, an innocent victim of the strife in her home, as well as others in the play would like the duck have been wounded by the circumstances of their lives. Hkon Werle alludes to the duck when he tells his son, Gregers, "There are people in the world who dive to the bottom the moment they get a couple of slugs in their body, and never come to the surface again" (Act I). An observation of Hedvig in Act III indicates that the duck also symbolizes Hedvig's parentageu0097that is, whether she is the daughter of Hkon Werle or Hjalmar. Hedvig tells Gregers Werle: "[T]here is so much that is strange about the wild duck. Nobody knows her, and nobody knows where she came from either." While hunting, Hkon Werle shoots a wild duck but only wounds it. Werle's servant, Pettersen, later gives the duck to Old Ekdal, who takes it home and, with the help of his son and granddaughter, Hedvig, cares for it in the garret. Hedvig is especially fond of it. The duck symbolizes Hedvig, an innocent victim of the strife in her home, as well as others in the play would like the duck have been wounded by the circumstances of their lives. Hkon Werle alludes to the duck when he tells his son, Gregers, "There are people in the world who dive to the bottom the moment they get a couple of slugs in their body, and never come to the surface again" (Act I). An observation of Hedvig in Act III indicates that the duck also symbolizes Hedvig's parentageu0097that is, whether she is the daughter of Hkon Werle or Hjalmar. Hedvig tells Gregers Werle: "[T]here is so much that is strange about the wild duck. Nobody knows her, and nobody knows where she came from either."

26  The Invention: Hjalmar's unfinished invention symbolizes his illusion of himself as a great man. Working on it enables him to entertain his heroic vision of himself; finishing it would force him to expose to the world the mediocre quality of his ideas.  Lights and Colors : He uses the theme of light to contrast Old Werle, a stingy rich man, with Old Ekdal, a poor helpless man. Ibsen connects the color green with the loss of eyesight of Old Werle. A possible affair between Old Werle and Gina, Hedvig's mother, may suggest the cause of Hedvig's loss of sight. By using sun and moon, Ibsen establishes the atmosphere of the scene. A possible affair between Old Werle and Gina, Hedvig's mother, may suggest the cause of Hedvig's loss of sight. By using sun and moon, Ibsen establishes the atmosphere of the scene.  Ibsen employs the image of light to portray certain characteristics in order to construct the plot and to adjust the mood of the scene.

27  Are you sure that he alone waste blame? This was said by Gregersto his father Werle when Gregers asked his father how the Ekdals have come to ruin, accusing his father of passing the forestry scandal onto Old Ekdal. According to Gregers, Werle should have been blame for the scandal as well. ."You ought not to have invited me.“ This was said by Hialmar to his Gregers when Hialmar overheard the conversation between Gregers and his father. Hialmar remarks that Gregers should not have invited him because he does not belong to this circle of the society

28 Werle: Werle: Some people in this world only need to get a couple of slugs in them and they go plunging right down to the depths, and they never come up again. Gina: Gina: Is Gregers still as awful as ever. Hjalmar: Hjalmar: She’s the only one, yes. She’s our greatest joy in life, and … she’s also our deepest sorrow, Gregers. Ekdal: Ekdal: Felling, eh? …….. That’s a dangerous business, that. That brings trouble. The forests avenge themselves. Ekdal: Ekdal: She did that. Always do that, wild ducks do. Go plunging right to the bottom … as deep as they can get, my dear sir … hold on with their beaks to the weeds and stuff … all other mess you find down there. Then they never come up again.

29 Relling: Personality? Him! If he ever showed any signs of anything as abnormal as a personality, it was all thoroughly cleared out of him, root and branch, when he was still a lad – that I can assure you.  Relling: Personality? Him! If he ever showed any signs of anything as abnormal as a personality, it was all thoroughly cleared out of him, root and branch, when he was still a lad – that I can assure you. Relling: While I remember, Mr. Werle junior – don’t use this fancy word ‘ideals’; we’ve got a plain word that’s good enough: ‘lies’.  Relling: While I remember, Mr. Werle junior – don’t use this fancy word ‘ideals’; we’ve got a plain word that’s good enough: ‘lies’.  Gregers : Dr. Relling, I shall not rest until I have rescued Hjalmar Ekdal from your clutches!  Relling: So much the worse for him. Take the life-lie away from the average man and straight away you take away his happiness.  Gregers: Ah, if only you’d had your eyes opened to what really makes life worth while! If you had the genuine, joyous, courageous spirit of self- sacrifice, then you would see how quickly he would come back to you. But I still have faith in you, Hedvig.

30 The wild Duck” as a title is most apt for this play because it gives us a definite clue to the major theme of the play – the value of illusions in the average man’s life. The wild duck is a precise and an all-important symbol. The wild duck symbolizes the life of Hjalmar and his father, the life of Hedvig and also Ibsen’s own life at the time he wrote this play. Gregers too becomes a symbol by wishing to play the role of the clever dog and to bring the wounded duck back to the surface. As all this symbolism is the hub and the heart of the play, the title “The Wild Duck” is most suitable for it. Title

31 Mr. Werle was sailing a boat and seeing a wild duck, had shot at, and wounded, it. The wounded duck dived down to the bottom of the sea and tangle there to never come up again. But Mr. Werle’s clever dog dived after the wounded duck and brought it up again. The wounded wild duck was taken to Mr. Werle’s house but it did not thrive there. It was passed on to Old Ekdal where it became used to its present abode, and had forgotten its natural, wild life. The wild duck as a symbol appears first in Mr. Werle’s speech with reference to the sad fate which had overtaken Old Ekdal. He says:

32 “By the time Ekdal was released, he was a broken- down man, past help from anyone. There are people in this world who dive to the bottom the moment they are wounded, and never come up again.” This speech when Old Ekdal, speaking to Gregers, describes how a wild duck behaves when it gets wounded. If the particular wild duck had not been rescued by dog, it would have remained at the bottom and would have died there. In Mr. Werle’s opinion, Old Ekdal, after his release from the prison, was in no position to lead a worth-while life because his spirit had completely been broken by his stay in the prison.

33 Hedvig says on two occasions that the wild duck belongs to her though she would not mind her father and grandfather borrowing it from her. Hedvig also says that her father and grandfather look after the wild duck well and try to make it comfortable. Gregers thereupon says that the wild duck is the most important person in his house. Hedvig says that the duck is a real “wild” bird and the wild duck must be feeling sad and alien here because no one knows it and it knows no one. Gregers finds that the wild duck has a damaged wing and that it is a little lame in one foot which the dog had held between its teeth when dragging the duck back to the surface of the water.

34 The wild duck Hedvig much in common between the wild duck and Hedvig The wild duck symbolizes Hedvig too. Hedvig too is an alien in this house like a wild duck. Hedvig is a product of Mr. Werle’s sport of making love to Gina. Hjalmar has been thinking her to be his own daughter. Thus there is much in common between the wild duck and Hedvig: both are a product of Mr. Werle’s sporting nature. The wild duck is lame, has a damaged wing, and is leading an incomplete and unsatisfactory life, shut within the four walls of a dark garret. Hedvig too is leading a narrow, limited kind of life, partly because she has weak eyesight and would soon become blind. Just as the wild duck has got used to its new abode, so, Hedvig is perfectly contented with her inadequate life in this house. And yet she is leading a frustrated life like that of the wild duck.

35 The wild duck symbolizes Old Ekdal’s life also. He used to hunt into the forest when young. Overtaken by a disaster he was jailed for some years. After his release he finds life wretched. When in garret, he imagines himself in a forest with wild animals. The same applies to Ekdal's putting on his lieutenant’s uniform at times. He is not entitled any more to wear it but he puts it on to recall the days when he was a lieutenant. These illusions are sustaining him in life which would otherwise appear to him to be not worth living. He too has become averse to reality, like the wild duck.

36 Ibsen’s personality The wild duck also reflects Ibsen’s personality when he wrote the play. Ibsen wants us to know that he has now forgotten to live a wild life; he has, like the wild duck, grown plump and tame and contented with his limited life. Ibsen must have asked himself at the time of writing this play how far the artist shuts himself off from life. Both Hjalmar and Gregers represent different aspects of Ibsen: on the one hand, the evader of reality, and on the other, the impractical idealist who

37 The Wild Duck is a perfectly suitable title for this play. The wild duck is the most important person in the story; it is Hedvig’s dearest possession; it is looked after by Old Ekdal with great care. Old Ekdal has provided a water-trough for the wild duck to splash about. Hjalmar too is deeply attached to the bird till he learns that the man to whom it had originally belonged had seduced Gina. Hedvig’s sacrifice would have been great if she had shot the wild duck, but Hedvig makes an even greater sacrifice of her own life. In any case the wild duck is the central symbol in the play, and round the wild duck the plot hinges.


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