Mr. Dick fulfils my Aunt’s Prediction: ‘You are a very remarkable man, Dick!’ said my aunt, with an air of unqualified approbation; ‘and never pretend to be anything else, for I know better!’
But she still repeated the same words, continually exclaiming, ‘Oh, the river!” over and over again. ‘ I know it’s like me!’ she exclaimed, ‘I know that I belong to it. I know that it’s the natural company of such as I am! It comes from country places, where there was once no harm in it – and it creeps through the dismal streets, defiled and miserable – and it goes away, like my life, to a great sea, that is always troubled – and I feel that I must go with it!’
Poor Wickfield is down in the doldrums: (UsingEnglish.com) in the dumps, down in the mouth – feeling sad and lacking the energy to do anything, filled with melancholy and despondency. Not that I know if Dickens used the term, but he describes Wickfield’s depression well with the following sentence: “When he came in, he stood still; and with his head bowed, as if he felt it.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it in Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. But whatever is a doldrum? To find out we must turn to the sea. According to Wikipedia:
The doldrums is a colloquial expression derived from historical maritime usage for those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. The low pressure is caused by the heat at the equator, which makes the air rise and travel north and south high in the atmosphere, until it subsides again in the horse latitudes. Some of that air returns to the doldrums through the trade winds. This process can lead to light or variable winds and more severe weather, in the form of squalls, thunderstorms and hurricanes. The doldrums are also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks.
The term appears to have arisen in the 18th century (when cross-Equator sailing voyages became more common). It is derived from dold (an archaic term meaning “stupid”) and -rum(s), a noun suffix found in such words as “tantrum”.
In the Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, it’s a place, inhabited by the Lethargarians who do nothing all day. Maybe not quite the same place Mr. Wickfield find himself.
Another term we don’t hear much, outside of literature, is crestfallen: “Tom’s cheeks burned. He gathered himself up and sneaked off, crushed and crestfallen.” (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876).
Please don’t let this WIX post, or the turkeys, get you down!
PS: Bea Bellingham, a fellow SkADaMoer in Australia, is featuring my work on her blog today, for Spotlight Wednesday.
“She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was – any thing that no one ever saw, and every thing that every body ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her.” -Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
David Copperfield was Sigmund Freud’s favorite novel. I imagine Freud raised his brow and nodded when David fell for for the spirit of his mother in the child-like Dora.
“These interruptions were the more ridiculous to me, because she was giving me broth out of a table-spoon at the time (having firmly persuaded herself that I was actually starving, and must receive nourishment at first in very small quantities), and, while my mouth was yet open to receive the spoon, she would put it back into the basin, cry ‘Janet! Donkies!’ and go out to the assault.”
– Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Check out what fellow SkADoMoers are up to on Linda Silvestri’s, (our fearless leader) blog
Linda Silvestri is stringing other illustrators along on a Sketch A Day Month 2012 journey, and I hope Linda will soon list our links, so we can all admire each others process and motivation.
With just two more days to read the next 220 pages for the Dickens seminar at my library, I fell asleep last night wondering what will become of little Copperfield, now that the Micawbers have left London: “The Orfling and I stood looking vacantly at each other in the middle of the road,…” Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.
And what will become of my children’s future as the day unfolds.
Also, if you would like to follow Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest, and vote for your favorite entry, you can do so by Thursday, November 8th at 6pm EST. You can read about the rules and my entry on her website, or here.
I encourage you to vote!