In The Wild Duck, how is the fate of Hedvig related to the fate of the wild duck?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The tragic suicide of Hedvig at the end of the play seems to cement the way in which the wild duck proves to be an apt symbol for Hedvig's life and death. Just like the wild duck, Hedvig finds herself friendless and in a strange location. However, when she enters the garret to supposedly kill the wild duck, she kills herself. Gregers says after her death that she now has definitely "retired to the depths of the sea." Throughout the play, Hedvig has been depicted as the innocent who is victimised by everybody else, and her martyrdom in this final section of the play cements this aspect of her character. Hedvig becomes the figure of the wild duck in acting as a substitute for it.

Throughout the play, therefore, the wild duck has been associated with the character of Hedvig. In this final section of the play, this identification is made more explicit by the way in which Hedvig assumes the identity of the duck as an outcast and martyr, and willingly sacrifices herself. In a sense, her death is the only logical ending to the way in which the play presents her as a martyr and an outsider.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial