Ibsen’s characters in the “Wild Duck” are tangled inside of a quarrel by the effect of each other’s differing duties and manifestos, leaving imagination to be championed either by work or criticism of the work of others. This criticism of work is a product of Mr. Werle’s determination to triumphantly buy-into the unassuming lives of the Hjalmar family with capital and in turn driving out the pure ambition that allows Hjalmar to rise in the morning with high hopes. For example, Hjalmar proclaims to the audience “Mr. Werle has done a great deal for me- God knows, I’m the first to admit it. But that doesn’t mean I’ve got to be under his thumb all my life.”(32)
Hjalmar wants to make a name for himself by fortunes that are not linked to Mr. Werle, so that he can become a self-serving breadwinner or perhaps a dreamer. But neither opponent seems to be a victor in this world of uncertainty and dismal days that is the forbidden wild. The forbidden wild is a fictitious world that cannot be won over by either character. Both Mr. Werle and Hjalmar, the heavyweights in the play, seem to plunge down into further despair. Mr. Werle uses the strategy of cynicism towards living a life without duties and Hjalmar, the dreamer, consumes time by dawdling over affairs that seem non-existent or trivial. For example, he wards away the critics when they question his sanity in constructing a Noah’s Arc of sorts in the attic. “Come, come, my dear Gregers, you mustn’t ask for details yet. It takes time you know. Another thing-don’t imagine it’s vanity that spurs on me. I’m certainly not working for my own sake. Oh no, it is my life’s mission that stands before me night and day.” (41)
In creation of this idealistic attic, Hjalmar is granted a safe haven from the outside world, which can be cruel and discomforting. He discovers a place that is warm hearted. The attic does not act as a place filled with the stench of cynicism from the elite; in fact it allocates the best of peoples spirits and allows for production of splendid, hearty feasts, to be shared by a circle of congenial friends such as Relling’s and Molvik. But even these friends do not dream along with him while devouring generous amounts of food, they instead look down upon his ways with layers of sarcasm. For instance, Relling’s adds to the conversation at the noontime meal by claiming, “Oh well, life can be good enough under a toupee Yes, Ekdal, when you come right down to it, you are a lucky man. You have your beautiful goal to strive for…” (45)
However ambiguous it may seem, Relling’s does make a valid point that even though we strive to become apart of a race filled with ambitious, go-getters, we become impeded by the decision of what crossroad to follow in life. The crossroad is a path that diverges into disparate routes, one being the route that leads to a life as a critic that is concerned with an ascension into a higher status in the corporate world and the other, the direct route to life as a...