The Wild Duck
by Henrik Ibsen
In "The Wild Duck", Henrik Ibsen employs the image of
light to portray certain characteristics of the actors and
to adjust the mood for each scene. This report discusses
each presentation of light, and its function, be it for
mood setting or character implication.
F.L. Lucas analyzes the opening arrangement and writes "In
the outer room the lamps are dimmed, with green shades, in
contrast to the brilliance of the room behind." They
understand that this meant that the outer room, lighted
with soft and shaded light, implies poverty, where as the
inner room, illuminated with bright candles, expresses
wealth. The distinctions of these two lit rooms contrast
Old Ekdal and Old Werle. The darkened room, insinuating
poverty, is the office in which the poor Old Ekdal "does
some extra copying," and in return receives a small income.
The inside room, presenting wealth, is Old Werle's dining
room where he is hosting a party.
In the opening scene in Werle's study where "lamps with
green shades give the room a soft, subdued light," differs
from "the rear . . . brightly illuminated by lamps and
F.L. Lucas examines the color green even deeper. "Why green
shades? Because Old Werle is beginning to lose his sight.
And that eye trouble links him significantly, by hereditary
with little Hedvig, likewise threatened by blindness." For
protection of a person's bad eyesight, green is the most
helpful colored shade to prevent blindness. This lighting
early in the Wild Duck hints that "[Old Werle] is going
blind" which relates him to Hedvig, where "there is every
probability that she will lose her eyesight." "Further,
green is the color of romantic unreality-the world of the
Wild Duck caught in the seaweed below the waters of the
fjord," adds Lucas. The color green, a symbol of fantasy,
is comparable to the world of the wild duck, which they
utilize to "diverge themselves" from cold reality. The
shade green is a link of two plots of the Wild Duck. One
understanding of green suggests a possible affair between
Old Werle and Hedvig's mother, Gina, through like
characteristics of bad eyesight. Another explanation of the
green display is to correlate fantasy with the wild duck.
"In contrast to Werle's party, the lighting is of
comparative poverty- 'on the table a lighted lamp',"
explains critic, F.L. Lucas. Unlike Old Werle's expensive
and exquisite illumination, a small inexpensive lamp lit
the Ekdals home, displaying paucity. This contrast shows a
primary difference between Old Werle and Old Ekdal, their
wealth. The two of them worked together and their
occupation was found guilty of a crime; "[Old Werle]
escaped by the skin of his teeth," while Old Ekdal was
sentenced to prison. This occurrence resulted in great
hatred toward Old Werle for his poor aid given to Old
Ekdal, being that Werle had a vast amount of wealth. Old
Ekdal, Hjalmar, and even Werle's son held this grudge
against Old Werle, Gregers.
Lucas describes the setting of the second Act as follows:
"The wild duck's garret is opened- 'clear moonbeams shine
in on some parts of the great room: Note great- not poky.
This happy hunting-ground of illusion is vast and shadowy;
and lit by the beguiling magic of moonshine." This scene is
illumined by the mystical moonshine, preparing the audience
or reader for a peaceful scene. The honored wild duck is
introduced in this act as well as was the story about the
'wonderful clever dog' that 'went down and got the duck.'
F.L. Lucas depicts the room as great, even though it was a
little area. This description was not referring to the
room's space, rather the 'great' magic of the attic; it was
lit by moonlight and was the world of the wild duck.
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