Wild Duck

by: Henrik Ibsen

Hialmar Ekdal

The fiery, melodramatic Hialmar figures as the comic double of the romantic hero Ibsen so famously unmasks in his theater. Hialmar is most explicitly unmasked in the exchange between Relling and Gregers in Act V. Hialmar's handsomeness, "superficially emotional temperament," "sympathetic voice," and talent for declaiming the verses and thoughts of others have always made him appear the "great light of the future" among his intimates. As Relling notes, Hialmar has always figured as a "shining light" within his private circles. The play of course thoroughly debunks this fantasy throughout, from his humiliation, beginning at Werle's banquet in the first act.

On his own part, Hialmar understands himself as a great father, provider, and inventor, the redeemer of the family line. Little does he know his continued debt to the man who ruined his father and the reasons for Werle's facilitation of his marriage with Gina. The revelation of both will lead him to abandon temporarily his household. Soon, however, his need for domestic comfort as well as a space where he might continue to play the shining idol quickly returns him home. Hialmar's dismissal of the petty concerns in life and dawdling in the garret while he awaits the necessary inspiration for his invention is certainly a parody of romantic notions of creation and creativity.