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 Hjalmar wrecks his friend’s happiness. Because Gina is not sure who the father of Hedvig is, he cannot bear to talk to the child. When Hedvig kills herself after her father rejects her, Hjalmar is horrified. Over the child’s dead body, he and Gina are reconciled. Relling, a skeptical doctor who has known Hjalmar since college days, says that his grief is not very deep and that he will be spouting sentimental poetry about Hedvig in a few months.
(The entire section is 796 words.)