The Romantic Quest and the Disparity Between Sight and Understanding in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn many cases of romantic pursuit, all other endeavors within the male's world are cast aside, with the conquest of a woman and her love alone dictating the character's actions. Much is the case in Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film, Vertigo, which manages to build upon this tradition of the romantic quest, while still maintaining a sense of suspense and mystery. This time, John "Scottie" Ferguson fills the role of the male protagonist, falling madly in love with the woman he assumes to be Madeleine Elster. Unaware of Gavin Elster's plot to murder his wife, Scottie becomes wholly enamored with both the Madeleine impersonator and the romantic tale she helps form: in which Scottie is the hero of the romantic conquest. Much of the complications for Scottie arise from his inability to see and interpret the world around him: although he perceives Madeleine's image as reflections of true love, he remains blissfully unaware of the far more substantial feelings his caring confidant, Margaret "Midge" Wood, directs towards him. Scottie's continued inability to break free from the romantic quest, to abandon his pursuit to write his own heroic ending, leads to an ambiguous ending that showcases neither support for the protagonist's nor the audience's senses of authority or control.
Degree ProgramHonors College