Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dreams Lost

Dreams Lost
Lynd Ward’s novel Vertigo artistically provides a new perspective on The Great Depression. Ward personalizes the great depression by presenting the lost dreams of The Girl and The Boy, while revealing the slow destruction of An Elderly Man’s company and himself. While all three are deal with these losses in different ways, they all struggle to find happiness.
The characters had dreams, and in the prelude, which took place in1929 the images recount the history of America flourishing and growing. Light, specifically stars are used to represent a bright future and hope. Specifically in the image with the ship, it is going towards the star using it as a guide for the future. In addition the image involving the fortuneteller, and the two to follow revealing that The Girl and The Boy have bright futures of becoming a violinist and builder. The images show this through the use of light and stars in surrounding the crystal ball. However the bright future of America and for these characters that is portrayed in 1929 quickly changes in the following three parts of the novel.
         In part one which is all about, The Girl, the reader sees her on the right path attending university and practicing her violin. However this soon changes when she walks in on her father attempting suicide. Her dream is forgotten about and the bright future ahead of her fades in the image where she is kneeling next to her father’s bed. The light from the lamp is seen in the far distance, with no star to be found. The majority of her body is dark, showing that her dreams are not the focus in her life anymore.
In addition the last image, the only image in the year 1935, she is standing in line, and happens to be the last person in line. There is no sign of her violin, she is completely dark, and although we cannot see her face her body language does not reveal happiness. The reader never sees The Girl succeed.
Part three is focuses on the daily struggles The Boy faces. With dreams of becoming a builder and one day marrying The Girl, he sets out to find work. The very last time a star is seen is in the image when he first leaves. He quickly comes upon obstacles and his hard work to find a job leads him empty handed. This is seen in the image with his face in his hands sitting on the sidewalk. The light again is far away, and only in the background with the star absent. The last image of his story shows him and The Girl. Unlike when the novel began, here they look helpless and fearful unsure of what their future holds. The widening of his eyes and her face buried in his chest reveal the lost hope of that their dreams will come true and happiness is far away.
In addition the reader meets a wealthy company owner who makes decisions leading to many of his workers loosing their jobs, along with the destruction of his company and the destruction of himself. The very first image introducing the Elderly Man shows him looking away from his enterprise looking towards the future and where he came from. However this changes through a series of images of him on the phone, seeing him become more aged and distressed. The light and brightness of the initial image introducing him disappears through this distress that takes over him.

Vertigo presents the progression of dreams and a bright future to loosing all hope in America during The Great Depression. Ward proves that not only one kind of people were affected but all of America was affected during this dark time in American history.


  1. Although you mentioned that at the beginning the images recounted American history, there are no connections to the lives of people in that time frame or history in general. The essay mostly focuses on the struggle the characters had faced and there is a mention that this is a personalized approach as well as that people from multiple backgrounds were affected. There is no direct connection to America in general aside from that. I am guilty of straying away from the prompt a little and not providing enough detail in my essay and yours is at a higher level than mine, but there are some aspects that could be improved on to better fit the prompt. Aside from a somewhat lack of historical connect, the symbolism and summary is good. The main point of your essay was that regardless of background, people were not happy, which was your thesis. I think that it may not be fully in line with the prompt, but your essay does follow your thesis.

  2. ***Sorry for the late comment Dr.Johns and Rina Lobell***
    The essay as a whole was well constructed and thought out. The argument was that Ward found a way to represent the loss of dreams in the Great Depression through his art. You definitely provided sound evidence from the images chosen and the analysis brought forth. However, as mentioned above by Brian, you did stray from the original prompt a bit. In my opinion, straying from the prompt was a necessary evil to produce your essay. In order to, if chosen, revise this you could find a way to connect it back to the prompt, and also tie in how the elderly gentleman had influences over the girl and boy. such as how the elderly gentleman was responsible for the loss of the girls fathers job.

  3. I don't see a real argument in the first paragraph. It's obvious that Vertigo is concerned with the great depression, and it's obvious that all three characters struggle to find happiness - what are you trying to convince your reader of that *isn't* obvious?

    You attention to details of the girl's experience is good once you get to details, but what are you trying to accomplish with those details?

    Your discussion of the Boy and the Elderly Gentleman are even less directed than your discussion for he Girl. You briefly touch on interesting specifics (primarily Ward's use of light), but your analysis never moves beyond the basic and obvious point that Ward is portraying the great depression. Remember that your audience is your classmates, who have read the same book - what do you want them to take away from your argument that they aren't *already* taking away?