English, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in The Tulane Drama Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Sep., 1959), pp. 96-103. Copyright 1959 The MIT Press. Used by permission.


Ibsen's The Wild Duck has been universally recognized as a masterpiece of modern dramatic art. Two generations of critics, starting with George Brandes and George Bernard Shaw, have admired its powerful ironies and brilliant dramaturgy. Finally, it has been made the subject of a detailed and extremely perceptive analysis by Hermann Weigand, Ibsen's leading twentieth-century exponent, in his study The Modern Ibsen. All have seen it as a curious drama of mixed genre in which elements of satire, comedy, and tragedy exist together in a state of high tension. Beyond this, the critics have gone on to explore some particular vein in the rich texture of the play: its exposure of the dangers of jejune "idealism," the elaborate comic irony surrounding the figure of Hialmar Ekdal, the teasing symbolism.