The Wild Duck is a play written by the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, composed in the year 1884. It is one of Ibsen’s best-known plays and also perhaps the most complex narrative written by Ibsen. Ibsen himself expressed his hope that the play would one day shape the way in which the Norwegian people think about the society they inhabit.
The play has five acts and it can be divided into two stories. The first story is that of Elder Ekdal and Gregars Werle. Ekdal and Werle began a business together but it didn’t progress as they hoped. When things became bleak, Werle blamed Ekdal and let him deal with the consequences of their actions. Ekdal and his family became financially ruined, while Werle flourished and gathered a big fortune. The second part of the story starts in the first act and it presents the way the Ekdal family was affected by the disastrous event in his past. The play features symbolic elements and, just like Ibsen’s previous work, focuses a on how a society and individual family try to integrate
The title makes reference to the most important element in the play, the wild duck in the attic, a gift from Werle to the Ekdal family. The wild duck is a metaphor and Henrik Ibsen took inspiration from a poem written by another Scandinavian writer, Johan Sebastian Welhaven. In the poem, it is presented the story of a wild duck that is shot and dives into the water to die and to avoid being caught and forced to live a life in captivity. In a symbolic sense, the Ekdal family is a wild duck that was injured, but the Ekdals continued to live their life, pretending to be something they are not and pretending that everything is right. This family lived around a lie, and the idea of living a lie is a central motif in the play.