What is The Wild Duck ‘about’? What is the relationship between text and subtext in a work whose usually understood message ‘against idealism’ appears to contradict the conclusion no less usually drawn from A Doll's House? Thomas Bredsdorff here analyzes the approaches of two major modern directors of the play – Ingmar Bergman, in his Stockholm production of 1972, and Luca Ronconi, who directed it five years later in Rome – and suggests the ‘hidden dialogue’ at work in such a comparison. He also explores the issues of patricide and power which may be deduced by applying the insights of Erich Fromm concerning the nature of human aggression, basing his own conclusions on a careful examination of Ibsen's highly pertinent stage directions. Thomas Bredsdorff has been Professor of Scandinavian Literature at the University of Copenhagen since 1978, and theatre critic of Politiken since 1965. This essay is translated from his most recent book, Magtspil (Power Play), published in Copenhagen by Gyldendal in 1986.