- " It is him I have to thank for the fact that my good name and reputation have suffered to some extent too."p. 101 (Act One). In this quotation, Werle defends himself against his son, Gregers, and tries to exonerate himself while continuing to blame Ekdal for his own downfall.
- "It was she from the very first who drew you apart from me."p. 104 (Act One) Werle argues here that it was Gregers’ mother who came between the father and son. This brings to mind the Freudian formulation of the Oedipal triangle, where the son desires the mother and is a rival with the father before identifying with him. Werle’s point is also in keeping with play as a whole as this is colored by the rivalry and insecurity between the generations in families.
- " When I look back on all you have done, it is like looking at a battle-field strewn on every side with ruined lives." p. 107 (Act One) At this point, Werle accuses his father of ruining lives and this reiterates how the antagonism between father and son is a central concern in the play.
- "That’s a dangerous thing to do. That brings trouble. The forests avenge themselves."p. 1(Act Two) Ekdal is referring to the cutting down of the forests and how this brings trouble. His fear is well-founded as the illegal destruction of the forest has been cited as reason as to why he was imprisoned. His claim of the forests avenging themselves re-surfaces at the end of the play, after Hedvig dies, and therefore also holds a more mystical meaning than is first apparent.
- "Wild ducks always do that. They stick down at the bottom – as deep as they can get – bite fast hold of the weed and wrack and all the rubbish that is down there. And so they never come up again." p. 125 (Act Two) This key quotation is spoken by Ekdal, and the significance of the eponymous wild duck is explained to the readers and audience. Once wounded, or damaged, the wild duck sinks and attempts a suicide of sorts.
- " It has been so long in there now that it has forgotten all about its own wild life; and that was all that was necessary." p. 126 (Act Two) Hjalmar makes this point and appears to argue that captivity and such a false environment are preferable for the wild duck now that it is no longer free.
- "Yes, an extraordinarily clever dog; the sort of dog that would go down to the bottom after wild duck, when they dive down and bite fast hold of the weed and wrack in the mud." p. 128 (Act Two) Gregers tells the others why he would choose to be a ‘clever dog’ (which is what saved the wild dog) and in so doing highlights his desire to act as a saviour, and a saviour to something that does not want saving.
- "You have dived down and bitten yourself fast in the weeds." p. 144 (Act Three) Here, Gregers compares Hjalmar to the wild duck and implies that he is committing slow suicide.
- "A woman mustn’t absolutely throw herself away, either." p. 164 (Act Four) Mrs Sörby is used to voice how there is a hypocrisy written into the views that argue women should be virgins before marriage (whereas the sexual experiences of men in this play are not critiqued in the same fashion). This hypocrisy is typical of a patriarchal society, and this play offers a microcosm of such a wider society.
- "And I hunted her away from me! And she crept like a frightened animal into the attic and died for love of me." p. 192 (Act Five) Hjalmar grieves the death of Hedvig and is already immersing himself in the self-pity that Relling predicts will shade his future.
The Wild Duck: Top Ten Quotations