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Hjalmar Ekdal’s Subconscious Feelings in Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck
By means of clever use of dramatic irony, Ibsen informs the audience of knowledge that Hjalmar himself is not conscious of. For 1, the audience knows of the affair that Hjalmar’s wife Gina had while she was a house keeper at the Werle’s home. Supposedly, Hjalmar is unaware of this. Even so, in Act II, Hjalmar demonstrates that possibly he does know of the affair. In Act II, Gregers, the son of Old Werle, enters the Ekdal household. As he settles in, Gregers asks seemingly innocent queries about the Ekdal’s. These queries consist of the age of Hedvig along with the length of Hjalmar and Gina’s marriage. In this short interrogation it is clear that Gregers suspects Hedvig of becoming his half-sister. Prior to the conversation lengthens even though, Hjalmar speedily alterations subjects: “Yes, that it is. Fifteen years all but a few months. (Changes subject) They have to have seemed extended years to you up at the performs, Gregers (II). Hjalmar does this possibly to save his wife, Gina, of unnecessary embarrassment about speaking about her premarital relations. Moreover, Hjalmar does not want to speak about Hedvig’s earlier childhood, because it may possibly bring up the threat of speaking about who her “real” father is.
Even though it is Hjalmar with whom Hedvig spends her life, it is most likely that Old Werle is Hedvig’s biological father. Hjalmar desires nothing to do with Old Werle. All through his life, his principal goal was to attempt and maintain the illusion that he does not need Old Werle and is in fact independent of him. Hjalmar has never ever been in a position to accept the reality that Hedvig genuinely loves him. Hjalmar feels that Hedvig, just like the wild duck, is a cast-off, handed down by Old Werle. In order to justify himself, Hjalmar constantly tests Hedvig to prove her really like for him. All through the play, Hjalmar treats Hedvig not as a daughter but a lot more of a tool, telling her to do items for him and to get issues for him. Sadly, Hedvig does not see this and is determined to earn Hjalmar’s adore. Hjalmar’s revenge against Old Werle is this mistreatment of his “true” daughter, Hedvig.
In Hjalmar’s subconscious, he does not want Hedvig about and in the end desires to end her life. In Act IV, Hjalmar states, “As for that confounded wild duck, I must have wonderful pleasure in wringing its neck!” (IV). Hjalmar compares the wild duck to Hedvig and in that statement it is clear that he wants to kill them both. It is also stated that he would have “great pleasure” in performing it. After Hjalmar says this, Hedvig replies by saying that it is “her wild duck” (IV). The wild duck is not only “her” possession but is also a literal representation of “her.” In response to what Hedvig says, Hjalmar replies, “That is why I won’t do it. I haven’t the heart- haven’t the heart to do it, for your sake, Hedvig. But I feel in the bottom of my heart that I ought to do it. I ought not to tolerate under my roof a single creature that has been in that man’s hands” (IV). Hjalmar does not want to kill the wild duck, since on the surface he does not need to murder Hedvig. Nonetheless, he states that “in the bottom of his heart, he ought to do it.” Deep down, Hjalmar desires to finish Hedvig’s life but does not, “for her sake.” Hjalmar also said that “he does not want to tolerate below his roof a single creature that has been in that man’s hands” (IV). This demonstrates his hate towards Old Werle but even far more, it hints that Hjalmar sees a connection amongst Old Werle and Hedvig.
Nearing the final act of the play, Hjalmar truly awakens and his character emerges. Throughout the play, Hjalmar by no means actually states that he does not want Hedvig and continues trying to believe that Hedvig is his accurate daughter. However, after he finds out that she is not, his subconscious feelings awaken and he reacts in an nearly violent manner:
“Hjalmar: I have no need for that. Never! Never ever! My hat! (Requires his hat.) My house has fallen into ruins round me. (Bursts into tears.) Gregers, I have no kid now!
Hedvig: (who has opened the kitchen door). What are you saying! (Goes to him.) Father! Father!
Gina: Now what’s to occur!
Hjalmar: Do not come near me, Hedvig! Go away- go away! I can’t bear to see you. Ah—her eyes! Very good-bye. (Goes towards the door.)
Hedvig: (Clings to him, screaming). No, no! Do not turn away from me.
Gina: (crying out). Appear at the child, Hjalmar! Appear at the kid!
Hjalmar: I will not! I can not! I have to get out of here—away from all of this! (He tears himself away from Hedvig and goes out by the outer door.)
Hedvig: (With despair in her eyes). He is going away from us, mother! He is going away! He will never come back! (IV)
In this scene, Hjalmar has finally accepted the truth and his reality. Hjalmar tells Gregers that “he has no youngster now” (IV). In all the years that Hjalmar was unable to accept Hedvig’s adore, his true character is lastly revealed. When Hjalmar says, “I can’t bear to see you. Ah—her eyes!” Hjalmar is displaying that not only does he want to push Hedvig away, simply because she is not his biological daughter he desires to push her away since of the reality that she is probably Old Werle’s daughter. By seeing the hereditary similarity amongst Hedvig and Old Werle, Hjalmar notices the partnership in between them and this eventually leads to Hjalmar despising each Old Werle and “his” daughter Hedvig. This awakening of Hjalmar is the climax of the entire play. The ultimatum of Hjalmar’s acts is Hedvig trying to prove her adore for Hjalmar, which is as the audience knows her act of self-sacrifice. The suspense that the audience feels throughout the whole play is at last concluded Hjalmar ultimately knows the truth.
By way of the culmination of Hjalmar’s subconscious feelings, The Wild Duck comes to an extraordinary but unexpected end. Hjalmar becoming capable to push Hedvig out of his life shows that he can ultimately take revenge against Old Werle. All through his life, Hjalmar has by no means been able to accept Hedvig as his true daughter and has by no means treated her proper. This is due to his subconscious feelings that inform him Hedvig is not his true daughter. Hjalmar’s act of leaving Hedvig is in fact demonstrating that Hjalmar is in a position to leave Old Werle. Hjalmar’s dependency on Old Werle is no longer in existence, so Hjalmar is capable to leave Hedvig. The play focuses resolutely on the psychological terrain traversed by its characters, and, for Hjalmar Ekdal, it is his subconscious that ultimately leads to resolution.
Ibsen, Henrik. 4 Excellent Plays. New York, New York: Bantam, 1958.
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