The Wild Duck Quotes


RELLING: May I inquire,—what is your destiny?

GREGERS: [going] To be the thirteenth at table.

Relling and Gregers

This particular quote appears at the end of the play, after Hevig killed herself and makes reference to the first scene in the play when Hjalmar went to a party hosted by the Werle family only to realize that he is the thirteen at the table, a number symbolizing bad luck. The first scene foreshadowed the tragedy that took place in the Werle family and also the fact that no one could have prevented it. In some way, Hevig’s death was produced by the cruel fate and it was unavoidable.

HEDVIG: And there's an old bureau with drawers and flaps, and a big clock with figures that go out and in. But the clock isn't going now.

GREGERS: So time has come to a standstill in there — in the wild duck's domain.

Hevig and Gregers

The attic is almost a mythic place, a place where time stands still and reality has no power. In the attic, Hedvig and her grandfather are able to dream and live inside an illusion. While for other people this is something strange, for them is normal. They are like the wild duck trapped inside the attic; prisoners forced to adapt to a place that is not really suitable for them. But Hedvig does not feel captive and she feels content staying in the attic. For her, the attic is the only way she can cope with the cruel reality around her.

EKDAL: [sleepily, in a thick voice] Of course. Always do that, wild ducks do. They shoot to the bottom as deep as they can get, sir — and bite themselves fast in the tangle and seaweed — and all the devil's own mess that grows down there. And they never come up again.


The origins of the wild duck are revealed in the third act. The wild duck that now lives inside the family’s attic was shot down by Gregers but was saved by its dog. The duck was then gifted to the Ekdal family. The people living in the Ekdal household see the wild duck as being representative for their own situation. When Senior Ekdal sees the duck, he imagines himself, wounded by his former partner and left with no other choice but to live wounded for the rest of his life. Hedvig thinks about how the duck must feel alone, separated from its family, thus hinting that she also feels separated from her family.

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