Henrik Ibsen entered a new symbolic phase in play writing when he penned The Wild Duck. The wild duck was shot by Hakon Werle who gave it to Hedvig Ekdal for a pet. When the duck was shot, it went to the bottom of the lake and would have been caught there if Hakron Werle's dog hadn't rescued it, thus allowing it a new life of luxury and love as Hedvig's beloved pet. Gregars Werle, Hakron's slightly arrogant and meddlesome son, found out that there is some confusion about Hedvig Ekdal's parentage. Her mother is clearly Gina Ekdal but her father could be Hakron Werle or Hjalmar Ekdal.
Gregers fancies himself the beneficent hunter who is going to shoot the Wild Duck Ekdal Family down with the truth of Hedvig's uncertain parentage and then, after raising them from the mud at the bottom of the metaphoric lake by offering them the freedom of truth (a Biblical allusion to the oft misused "and the truth shall set you free"), lead them to a new life of luxurious happiness and unhampered love. He miscalculates, of course, because Hedvig takes her own life. The title reflects the many levels at which the characters' lives resemble that of a wild duck shot down and stuck in the mud, some of which may be saved, some of which may not.