Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Hjalmar Ekdal, a photographer. After his father’s imprisonment for making and using a false map to fell timber on government land, his father’s former partner, Werle, a businessman, set Hjalmar up as a photographer. He got Hjalmar a room in a house run by the mother of the Werles’ former maid, Gina Hansen, who knows how to retouch photographs, and encouraged the two to marry. They have been married for some years when the play opens, and Hedvig, their fourteen-year-old daughter, is Hjalmar’s chief joy. In addition to his photography, Hjalmar is working on an invention. Since old Ekdal’s release from prison, he has lived with Hjalmar and his family. Hjalmar and old Ekdal have a strange attic filled with rabbits, doves, and a wild duck wounded by Werle and given to them. Hedvig claims it as a pet. Old Ekdal and his son, who “hunt” in the attic, shoot the rabbits and doves. They do not kill the duck because it is Hedvig’s pet. Although Gina’s bad grammar annoys Hjalmar, he is happy with her and with his life. Grateful for Werle’s aid, he thinks that Werle helped him because he and Werle’s son, Gregers, had been boyhood friends. When Gregers, who has been away for many years, returns and realizes that his father has tricked Hjalmar into marrying Gina and caring for Hedvig, who is probably Werle’s child, he says that Hjalmar is a wild duck that has been wounded, but that he will cure him. The knowledge he gives...
(The entire section is 796 words.)
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Ekdal (also called Old Ekdal) is Hjalmar’s father. Years ago, he was Hakon Werle’s partner. Convicted of illegally cutting down trees, Old Ekdal was imprisoned, which led to the complete loss of his fortune, reputation, and military rank. After his release, Ekdal returned to live with his son. He has obtained work copying for his former partner, who remunerates him generously. Old Ekdal lives in a fantasy world. He creates a forest for himself in the attic; the rabbits that populate the forest are the bears he once hunted. He also has a drinking problem.
Gina Ekdal is a hard-working, kind woman. She comes from a lower social class than her husband, which is demonstrated by her lapses in grammar, but she is far more efficient and caring than he is. Not only does she accept the role of taking care of the home and family, she also runs her husband’s business. She sincerely loves her husband and tolerates his delusions with good humor. She makes every effort to conceal unpleasant realities from Hjalmar. She is intent on making her family happy. Despite her simple background, Gina is astute and intuitive. For instance, when Gregers wants to rent the room, she recognizes his potential for bringing destruction into her family, and she, not Hjalmar, does not want him to move in. In all facets of her life, Gina demonstrates that her primary goal is to protect her family.
(The entire section is 1080 words.)