The contrast between realism and idealism is a central theme depicted in Ibsen's play, The Wild Duck. Both opposing forces of thought are represented by various characters in the play. Gregers Werle is characterized as the quintessential self-righteous idealist throughout the play. He has preconceived notions on how the people around him should approach their lives. For example, in act one, he challenges his father on the integrity of his lifestyle in aspects of business and relationships. First, he accuses Werle of being equally involved in business fraud with Ekdal, scolding him for slipping through conviction. Here he makes a point to label him as a dishonest business man. Then he attacks his father's personal life, confronting him about his affair with Gina, protesting that his adulterous endeavors claimed the life of his mother. After judging Werle on the morals that frame his life, he makes an ambiguous statement, "For at last I see my mission in life." This mission is later revealed in act three and consequently changes Hialmar's family in drastic measures.
In conversation with his father, Gregers discloses the intent of his mission, "to open Hialmar's eyes. He shall see his position as it really is." His ultimate goal in the play is to expose Hialmar to the truth about his wife and child. Gregers is presumptuous in believing that Hialmar will benefit and rejoice in light of this information. He is convinced that this is the only way that Hialmar can build a new honest and fruitful marriage with his wife. His idealistic values have overwhelmed him that he is blind to see that .
Hialmar's ignorance serves a purpose in his marriage; it binds the Ekdal Family together. Gregers naivety is displayed in act four after Hialmar confronts Gina. Gregers states, "I confidently expected.to find the light of transfiguration shining upon me from both husband and wife. And now I see nothing but dulness, oppression, gloom.