Use of irony in “The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen”

Introduction : Use of irony in the Wild Duck includes explanation of irony and examples from Act I. II, III, IV and V.

What is irony?

The contrast between appearance and reality is called irony“.  There are many types of irony like irony of dialogue, irony of situation and irony of character etc. First, what a character says and what he actually means? is the irony of dialogue. Second, what a character thinks himself and what he actually is? What he desires but what actually occurs? are the irony of character. Third, what a character believes and what the readers know? What we had expected and what actually happens? are the irony of situations.

Why the writers used irony in the plays or other kinds of literature?

Actually irony intense the effect of tragedy or comedy. In tragedy irony served to heighten the tragic effect and in comedy it served to heighten the comic effect. In this play “The Wild Duck” it is used to intensify both the effects according to their situations. Some times it Heightens the tragic effect and some times heightens the comic effect.

Use of irony in the drama the Wild Duck

Irony used in Act-I

Hjalmar says to Gregers that his wife is as good and capable as any man could ask for. But, Gregers knows reality and later in the play Halmar him self thinks it opposite.

Hjalmar says to Gregers that Mr Werle is kind and good hearted man. Who helped him in his distress but Gregers knows reality. And later he shows the real face of Mr werle to Hjalmar.

Irony used in Act-II

Hjalmar tells his family that he is quite blunt in his talk with the guests on party. But in reality he had taken a little part in the conversation.

Hjalmar says that he will work as long as his strength holds out but in reality he is a lazy man.

Hjalmar says to Gina and Hedvig, “ With my flute in my hand and you two beside me. Never mind if our roof is low and poor”. But later in the play he says that he cannot bear the sight of Hedvig and cannot live under the same roof with Gina.

Hjalmar says to Gregers that Hedvig is brightest joy of his life but later in the play he says that he cannot bear the sight of Hedvig.

Hjalmar says that one day his old father will wake up and find. That his son has become a prosperous man as a result of his invention. But readers/audience know that he is not capable of invention.

Irony used in Act-III

Hedvig says that life is very sad for the wild duck but later in the play her own life is very sad.

Gina says that her husband is not an ordinary photographer but in reality he is an ordinary photographer.

Hjalmar says to Gregers that he is working on invention in photography. But, in reality he is a lazy man and not working on any invention.

Gregers thinks that he is doing good to Hjalmar by revealing the true facts of his life to him. But, these true facts has ruined his life by Hedvig death.

Relling’s remarks about Hjalmar that he is lucky man, have a good wife and working on invention. But later in the play we know that all is opposite.

Irony used in Act-IV

Hjalmar says that he has now decided to do every thing himself. And to do all the work single- handed but in Act-V we saw that he did not live alone.

Irony used in Act-V

When pistol shot is heard the Gregers says that Hedvig has proved her love for Hjalmar, has killed the duck. Hjalmar says that now all will be well and we can begin a new life. But nothing is well Hedvig has shoot herself.

In this play dramatic irony had played an important role. It heighten the tragic and comic effects.

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