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MonkeyNotes-The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen
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LITERARY INFORMATION

Ibsen's work can be divided into three phases: the early phase was
dominated by historical plays, which are written wholly or partly
in verse; the middle phase was marked by two dramatic poems,
"Brand" and "Peer Gynt;" and the final phase is devoted to his
great prose dramas, which revolve around contemporary social and
moral issues. In all three phases of his career, Ibsen's central
preoccupation was to present "the contradiction between word and
deed, between will and duty, between life and theory in general."
He also tried to depict men as egoistically and selfishly sufficient
unto themselves.

The content of Ibsen's plays was sometimes shocking, for he gave
insights into the human condition, which were quite rare for his
time. The plays often stirred up debates, which were usually
heated, protracted, and widespread. "A Doll's House" was greatly
debated and criticized because it portrayed a woman, named Nora,
who walked out on her husband and three young children. His next
play "Ghosts" investigates what would have happened to Nora had
she remained at home. In "The Wild Duck" Ibsen tries to show
how it is better to cling on to "life illusions" rather than to have the
idealistic viewpoint of a Gregers Werle imposed on the individual.



In all his plays, Ibsen explores the relationship between human
beings, presenting them with such sensitivity that the overall effect
is as powerful and satisfying as that of a perfect poem. He also
portrays that personal tragedy comes from a denial of love. Hedvig
kills herself because she is denied love by the father whom she
adores. In his plays, Ibsen is also able to masterfully handle
dramatic effect on the stage through his use of language, powerful
symbols (such as the wild duck), and the interaction of characters.

"The Wild Duck" was written in 1884 and falls in the middle of
Ibsen's career. As the key symbol and image in the play, the wild
duck came from two probable sources. Ibsen borrowed the idea
from a poem, "The Sea-Bird," written by Welhaven, a Norwegian
poet.

It is about a wounded duck that is shot by a careless hunter and
dives down to the bottom of the sea to die. Another source for
Ibsen was Darwin's account of how wild ducks degenerate in
captivity. The play marks a fine balance between the poetic and the
realistic elements.

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MonkeyNotes-The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen
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