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Wild Duck

Henrik Ibsen
Summary

Act V: Part One

Summary Act V: Part One

More importantly, Relling speaks in terms of pathology, replacing the spiritual diagnoses Gregers offers of the house's poisons and taints with quasi- medical/psychological ones. This turn to a discourse of psychology is one of the defining aspects of Ibsen's drama. Gregers suffers from an "integrity-fever" and a "delirium of hero-worship." His "claim of the ideal" becomes a disorder rather than a moral or spiritual imperative. Rather than lead one to the truth, the ideal is similar to the lie in being a disease of the mind. What is imperative for Relling is not the soul's attainment to truth but the treatment of mental disorders. His primary cure is the lie, an inoculation with the "life-illusion" that makes existence bearable. Thus, Hialmar can dream of his invention and sustain the faith of his family and the mirage of his happy household, and Ekdal can hunt in the garret.

Finally, we should note that this turn to psychology involves an implicit notion of female degeneracy. Relling pointedly locates Hialmar's illness in his upbringing by his two hysterical aunts. Similarly, Werle continually appeals to the sickly consciousness of his dead wife to explain Gregers's unruliness.