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The Wild Duck
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ACT ONE REVEALS OLD WOUNDS AND THE REASON WHY THE EKDAL FAMILY STRUGGLES WITH POVERTY AND LINGERING SOCIAL HUMILIATION. FORMER BUSINESS PARTNERS IN THE “WORKINGS” UP IN THE NORTHERN FOREST, TWO OLD MEN HAVE REASONS TO AVOID EACH OTHER, BUT IT IS WEALTHY WERLE WHOSE GUILTY CONSCIENCE GOADS HIM INTO SURREPTITIOUSLY HELPING THE EKDALS WHEN HE CAN. HIS FORMER MAID, GINA, NOW MARRIED TO A MODESTLY SUCCESSFUL PHOTOGRAPHER NAMED HJALMAR, IS A GREAT HELP TO HER HUSBAND. THEIR ALMOST 15-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, HEDVIG, IS DEVOTED TO HER FATHER--BUT LIVES IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE OF HER DUBIOUS PARENTAGE. ALSO SHE, LIKE OLD WERLE, IS LOSING HER EYESIGHT—A PAINFUL MEDICAL FATE WHICH HER PARENTS PATHETICALLY SHIELD HER FROM.
AS THE ACTS UNFOLD AND MORE OF THE PAST IS REVEALED THE CONTROVERSY DEEPENS. WE WONDER IF HEDVIG WILL SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE OR IF HJALMAR WILL SHOOT HIMSELF WITH HIS FATHER’S UBIQUITOUS OLD PISTOL. THEN GREGERS, AN OLD SCHOOL CHUM, RETURNS TO THE TOWN BUT REFUSES TO LIVE WITH HIS FATHER, WERLE. NAIVELY DETERMINED TO MAKE AMENDS (WITH INFORMATION IF NOT MONEY) GREGER'S MOTIVES ARE PRAISEWORTHY, BUT COME AT THE WRONG TIME. (AS IF THERE IS EVER A GOOD TIME TO INFORM A MAN THAT HE MAY NOT BE HIS DAUGHTER’S FATHER AFTER ALL...) HOW CAN HEDVIG BEST PROVE TO HJALMAR THAT SHE IS STILL HIS ADORING DAUGHTER? WHO MUST LEAVE THE BEDRAGGLED NEST TO RESTORE PEACE IN THEIR HUMBLE HOME?Read more ›
It's a provacative read. It may seem slow at first but it picks up considerably and moves along swiftly towards the end. The characters are well drawn, that is, they're recognizable. They have their personal idiosyncrasies, their faults and virtues and ideals. I was impressed by how much they reminded me of people in my own life.
There are many ideas to play with when reading this. Is it possible to live a life completely free of self-delusion? Do we all tell ourselves lies in order to live? I would call it a play of ideas but that might make it sound didactic or doctrinaire, which it isn't (to me anyway, I think some people disagree).
I've read a fair sample of Ibsens work and I think this is the best of the bunch.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A towering theatrical achievement with a great novel's scope. Ibsen's ear for reproducing authentic human conversation crosses many class lines and remains a marquee element of his... Read morePublished 15 months ago by A Critic
Ibsen is regarded as one of the foremost 19th Century European playwrights. I don't quarrel with that. Read morePublished on May 25, 2013 by K of CSPG
Werle is a successful merchant. His previous partner Ekdal was found guilty of a crime, although it becomes clear in Ibsen's play that Werle committed it. Read morePublished on July 6, 2010 by Israel Drazin
This is a very complex play although it seems simplistic at first. There were a lot of changes going on in society when Ibsen wrote this play in 1884 And not everyone was adapting... Read morePublished on June 11, 2006 by Shirley Schwartz