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Henrik Ibsen is one of modern drama’s strongest voices; his realistic situations with real characters broke the mold of all previous drama styles and his subject matter (especially feminism) drove him from his native Norway for much of his career. Wild Duck, in some ways the most symbolic of his dramas, continues his practice of using realistic dialogue rather than poetic dialogue, but goes one step further – he is experimenting with a lower-class slang and diction that brings his characters lower than middle-class. The dialogue is very colloquial, with many fragmented sentences, slang words, and speech patterns dictated by dashes and parenthetical expressions. For example, in the exposition (the first few pages of the play), when Peterson and Ekdal are discussing “the old man” (Werle) and Mrs. Sorbey, there are a dozen such ellipses, called for by dashes, in the text. In the developing body of the play, such phrases as “Stay! Perhaps he did – now that I think of it “ are continuations of this conversational style. To be sure, all “dialogue” is “conversation,” but here it has the casual, spontaneous tone of informal conversation, not studied, thought-out discourse. A decent essay could be constructed by examining the degrees of formality vs. informality in each character's dialogue style.
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