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.