The Play "The Wild Duck" By Henrik Ibsen

Categories: Drama

The play "The Wild Duck" written by a Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is a tragicomedy. The play revolves around two families The Ekdals and The Werles and the unfortunate events both the families have to face. In the play the playwright has also given direction to loyalty, family values, honest relationships, revenge and innocence along with the entertainment that the audience finds through the ridiculousness created in the play, its tragic reality also does not cease to disturb the audience, emotionally.

The chosen section begins with Gina speaking to a happily engaged couple who is visiting Ekdals' studio for a photoshoot they have had done with them. The happy couple represents the situatuion as it is at the Ekdals currently between the couple. Gina helps her loving husband with most of the photography work and the bookings he gets like a dutiful wife. Their daughter Hedvig who is an innocent soul is worried about Hjalmar, her father who is late for dinner that evening which is an unusual event for the Ekdals as Hjalmar is always on time for dinner with his family.

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Hedvig, who is innocent and loves her father becomes very happy to see her father arrive home for dinner and both Gina and Hedvig offers to help Hjalmar take off his coat as routine but Hjalmar refuses their help and hangs up his coat himself and answers his wife's questions rather coldly and refuses to have dinner as well.This kind of behaviour is only shown when a man is upset as he usually pushes away anyone who tries to help or console him and builds a protective guard around his heart for a moment when he feels unsure and betrayed.

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As this beat unfolds it is making the readers and the audience feel strongly about some kind of tension going on in the back of Hjalmar's head.

Gina, a little worried about her husband's behaviour tries asking Hjalmar a few more questions to figure out the uneasyness in his mood but he only answers with an indirect taunt to his wife "There are a lot of things a man's got to get used to in this world". Hedvig tries to motivate her father and tries to lighten up his mood as she loves him a lot and cant see Hjalmar upset where as Hjalmar forgets about the promise he has made to his daughter about the celebration as he is caught up in a lot of thoughts and announces that from the day onwards he will look into his business and throw all his attention into his work. This kind of behaviour shows that Hjalmar is trying to escape from the situatuion which he is not willing to face deep down and wants to keep himself busy and diverted to get rid of the painful thoughts.

Innocent Hedvig who has cared for her pets just like her father has cared for her, she can't bear the thought of having her dear wild duck hurt and her father who has loved her dearly reassures that he will not touch the duck for her sake. Hjalmar also mentions that he cannot tolerate a creature in his home that Old Werle has ever touched, here he indirectly points fingers at his wife for being in an affair with the old man once. Hjalmar does not have anything against the poor creature but he hates every single bit ever granted to them by old Werle.

Hjalmar tries to give his wife a few hints about certain obligations that he has heard but his daughter again interrupts with pure innocence worried sick about her wild duck and as a child should believe her father she agrees to take a walk as suggested meanwhile he can have a word with his wife as he does not want to involve his daughter into an arguement at this point and maturely wants to keep the conversation between the adults only. When Hjalmar finally finds time alone with his wife he mentions to keep the household accounts under his observation because he feels uncertain about his relationship and the loyalty of it, this kind of change occurs when a man naturally thinks he has been cheated on or betrayed by his close and loved ones.

Hjalmar suspects a difference in his wife's behaviour as he asks her a few questions about the records she is responsible for and as the questioning goes on the firmness of her voice and the grip of her hands become loose which makes her husband doubtful and suspicious. This behaviour puts off Gina and she straight up confronts her husband and asks him to spill what has been bothering him and then there is a series of intense questioning about Gina's past with Haakon Werle. The audience is made to wonder why Gina woud let the old man have an affair with her when she wasn't interested giving herself to him the way he wanted it. Looking at a woman's nature it is often that women stick to their word and without their willingness no one can dare make them do a deed, as Gina explains she has nothing to do with the old Werle initially, she was guilty of having an affair with him later on.

To find the truth about his wife, Hjalmar is heartbroken and keeps questioning his wife saying aloud "And this is the mother of my child?, Hedvig's mother!". Deep down he is confused as of how could his wife keep such a huge secret from him, the truth about her life, for all those years and to this shock he is not even sure about Hedvig being his own child. Therefore, in the back of his mind there is an underlying question which he is unsure about. This part of the act makes the audience curious to find out the truth about Hedvig's actual father and the events which will occur from here onwards. The part where Hjalmar questions Gina why she hid such a huge deal from him, she states her feelings as she was scared that Hjalmar would not marry her otherwise as she had fallen deeply inlove with him and did not want to be miserable. This choice of action on Gina's part is quite selfish as she did not tell her husband to-be the truth instead hid it for her own good and pulled off a rather decietful act.

Gina is rather a woman who rubs her help onto her husbands face when he confronts her and asks how she could have kept such a huge secret from him. To take the weight and pressure off her back she makes her husband seem needy of her help at first she says: "what would have happened to you if you hadn't found a wife like me?" taken Hjalmar by a surprise and then unlike any other wife who loves her husband and would help him without thinking twice she says: "yes because i've always been...couple of years older" and "you were pretty bad can't deny that". This hints towards Gina's possible lies told by her to her husband about her past and her child as well as it shows a different side of her personality when it comes to a confrontation.

The Ekdal family is damaged in a lot of ways as the daughter is suffering from an eye condition, the grandfather has been to jail and the wife has been in an affair with an old man before the marriage. The family pretends to be something they are not as they put on a show for themselves and keep going with the flow. They give themselves false hope especially Hjalmar. The walk that he took with his friend, Gregers that very evening has made him doubtful and put all these questions in his head about his wife and her past with Haakon Werle who is Gregers Werle's father. The two Werle men have had issues since the very beggining of the play as Gregers thinks that the reason for his mother's death was his father who has had tremendous amount of affairs with other women and at the time of his wife's illness he was with Gina. This realization has made Gregers hate Gina more as he has seen his mother in pain due to the affair.

Gregers Werle is set on the thought that he has a right to take revenge and punish his father and anyone who has hurt his mother, he fancies the satisfaction he must get by letting the truth out instead of thinking about the relationships he would ruin and people he would hurt and all the damage he would cause in the process to gain his personal satisfaction. Gregers thinks that his truth will make his friend's relationship become pure and a marriage based on a truth but, he is an immature man who has no idea about relationships and how they are run. Not all partners in all cases tell eachother the truth about their lives and their pasts in order to prevent eachother from getting hurt. It is also possible that Gregers does not think maturely enough because as he was growing up he has seen a rather disturbed relationship between parents and when it was his time to learn about the worldly matters he was away from his family, studying. Gregers has certainly not proved himself to be a true friend, instead he acts like an enemy who is only there to ruin friendships and relationships in order to gain his own satisfaction.

During the arguement between the Ekdal couple, Gregers enters and confronts Gina himself as well also witnessing the whole scenario and an argument between a husband and his wife which is very unlikely of a decent man to do. He questions Gina and makes Hjalmar have second and more twisted thoughts about his wife and his child. A man in such situatuions loses control over his senses and this poor man, Hjalmar hasn't had the chance to sit back and breathe a little and think about what he wants to do next infact more than just one person has envaded his private space, making decisions for him and giving answers on his behalf. To all the fast-moving events Mrs Sorby enters with an invitation of her marriage with Old Werle and as wise as she is that certain quality of her becomes another mock for Gina and her loyalty has been questioned once again.The irony falls where we think of all the events and converstions taking place inside a house in a closed space, in private but infront of all the other people who keep putting in their own thoughts and opinions about the couple's life and decisions instead of the couple coming to an understanding and sorting out their differences themselves.

Hedvig who is a pure and an innocent character in the play is in love with her family and her cozy little home that bears her pet birds as well. The girl loves her father with all her heart and on seeing her father shrink his touch when it comes to her and starts to push her away signalling her the hatred he now has for her makes the girl miserable and crushes down her world to which her reaction is quite devastating. Hedvig's father becomes certain about the fact that Hedvig may not be his child because when Mrs Sorby pays a visit she mentions about Old Werle's blinding situatuion which directly links to Hjalmar's childs eye condition and for the birthday of the lovely child Mr Werle has sent her a letter setting up an amount for her which she will get from him every month as a gift. The kindness of the old man alerts Hjalmar and instead of looking at someones good deeds or caring behaviour he naturally starts taking it negatively and thinks about any possible agendas the old man would have behind his concern.

Gregers recommends the poor child to sacrifice one of her dearest things for her father in order to prove her love to him and she decides to kill the wild duck. The poor girl compares her situatuion to the wild ducks by thinking that the wild duck was given to her as a gift and she has fallen in love with it and cares for it with all her heart and it could be possible that the same has happened to her and her father has become fond of her aswell. The naive thinking of the poor girl shows how disturbed she is on the inside to see her family fall apart, all the world that matters to her is her family and she has been withdrawn from her school as well due to her eye condition. Gregers recommended such a thing to the litte girl because as a child he would have wanted his father to love him more than his work or other affairs. He wanted to see his father sacrifice something dearest to him for Gregers and as he used to think this way he thought that that would be a suitable way for the little girl to prove her love for her father by sacrificing and giving up on something that is closest to her heart.

Updated: Feb 28, 2024
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The Play "The Wild Duck" By Henrik Ibsen. (2024, Feb 28). Retrieved from

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