The phrase got a lot of attention recently when someone close to U. President Trump Are You Ready - Billy Ocean - Are You Ready it to describe the mood inside the White House.
This appeared in The Washington Post shortly after the indictment of several former members of the Trump campaign. Google NGram suggests that the phrase appeared in the middle of the 20th century and grew gradually in frequency of use.
I've heard this phrase so frequently that I don't think twice hearing it, but on further thought, it seems like a unique idiom, as the notion of walls literally closing in on somebody is not something that anyone would experience in a literal sense.
Looking further, I found some early uses that suggest to me that the phrase was possibly adopted from references used in World War II, where "walls" refers to the walls of an army encircling the enemy. This newspaper clipping appeared on January 1st,and quotes President Roosevelt saying "walls are closing in remorselessly on our enemies. Here are some early instances of "walls closing in," from various Elephind searches of old newspapers. Mad[d]ened by the thought [of betrayal], the wretched woman became unconscious alike of fatigue and fear, and her only desire was to escape from the terrors which she was surrounded.
She felt as though the roof of the vault, spacious and lofty as Accion Directa - Rip Kc - Rip Kc was, became every moment more heavy and more near, and that, the walls were closing in upon her on every side. Human nature could passively endure no more.
She started shrieked and fled. From " Watchman, What of the Night! Again and again, of latter years, have I called to mind, when musing upon this subject [American slavery], the fabulous story of Vivenzio. He was immured by his enemies for some real or pretended crime within a spacious prison. Days and months passed away without his perceiving that anything unusual was taking place.
He ate and drank and slept, and whiled away his time as best he could. At length he thought his prison had grown perceptibly smaller.
Could he be mistaken? It was almost too strange for belief. He had seen no movement of the walls, heard no noise that might indicate such a thing.
Day by day he sat and watched. It was no dream of the imagination. His prison grew smaller; the walls were closing in around him! They had been purposely so constructed that they might crush him to death by inches.
The walls are closing in around it and must eventually crush it to death. From that point south we observe a change of soil for the better, and as the lake winds have faded away into other air currents, coming from the south and west, vegetation is much more advanced. The clearings along the line of Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In Lafayette and Indianapolis Road are small, and of recent date, and the heavy forest walls close in on Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In little way stations, giving them an air of seclusion that, were it not for the little ribbons of iron that connect them with the rest of mankind, might well account for their want of knowledge of the outside world.
Oh, that first ladder! I shall never forget the resigned feeling with which I stamped down step after step behind my guide; the greasy work; the damp, grave-like air;—above all, the roar and din from the huge water-wheels and engines constantly at work to keep the in enything looking order.
Truly "I heard the wash of the waters, but nothing could I see"—save vast slimy boards moving slowly up and down at my elbows. At first I naturally enough took these collossal piston-rods for the firm walls of the chimney, down which I was creeping. I was set by one grazing my hip, and making me shrink within myself, like the man Living For The City - Stevie Wonder - Number Ones saw the prison walls closing in around him.
The prison or crypt motif seems to be a recurring on in most of these early instances. One classic story in which prison walls close in on a prisoner is Edgar Allen Poe's " The Pit and the Pendulum ," in which a prisoner of the Inquisition was subjected first to a razor-edged pendulum gradually being lowered toward him as he lay bound in ropes, and then by a yawning pit in the middle of his chamber, and finally by the heated, moving walls of the chamber slowly coming together and forcing him toward the aforesaid pit.
Poe never refers to the walls as "closing in," however, although he does end with this image:. There was a loud blast as of many trumpets! The fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell, fainting, into the abyss. The French army Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies. But the Vivenzio story mentioned in the "Watchman, What of the Night" article from the Richmond Palladium is more than a decade older than Poe's story.
At last a horrible suspicion flashed suddenly across his mind, and he [Vivenzio] started up with a frantic air. I see it! I feel the maddening truth like scorching flames upon my brain! Eternal God! Yon roof will descend! Lord God! Oh, fiend—oh, devil—is this your revenge? Mudford's story was widely reprinted in other periodicals and story anthologies, and the Wikipedia article on "The Iron Shroud" says that "The story is considered to have provided Edgar Allan Poe with the idea of the shrinking cell in his short story 'The Pit and the Pendulum'.
He must have money for champagne Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In bread; Marc Antonio's rints and meat. As well be starved as have is cutlet without truffles. Poverty's iron walls were closing in upon him closer and closer, but he shruged his soulders, buttoned tighter His mind only bungled up against ideas, hustled them, so to speak, till they turned savage. He sat idly in his cell when his work was done. There was a kind of pressure on him, as if the walls were closing in on him.
Sometimes he got up and At first he slept poorly. Bit by bit he accustomed himself to the bad air; to the pent closeness of his cell; to the feeling in the darkness that the walls were closing in on him to squeeze him to death—a feeling that beset him for the first few weeks; That's almost the lot, although the was frequently reprinted.
The one sounds like a rewrite of theor perhaps another account or story by the the same author. Achan Unable to Save Himself from Results of His Sin One can perhaps imagine, as the lot was being cast, the feelings of this wretched man. The walls Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In closing in upon him, as the fabled walls of Vengeance closed in upon their builder. Earlier references to walls--some of them Biblical walls of Jericho, e.
In The Broadway Journal of Aug. Poe and Henry C. In that story is this passage:. The roof of the cavern became lower, and I journeyed on till it was so low I could not stand erect. I stopped [sic] as I went, and felt the side-walls closing in upon me.
Every moment the passage became more straightened until I could no longer move. This in bold, above is the earliest instance of the several variants of the phrase "the walls are closing in" I could find. The story is not attributed to Poe, although it is mentioned in passing by Poe in a note to correspondents:.
About the story, Burton R. III: Broadway Journal that. It is perhaps apt that the phrase apparently coined by Mathews albeit prompted by an archetypal atavistic fearwho Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In the nationalist movement of the mids "Young America"a political movement that quickly degenerated into expanionist advocacy of a perversion of "Manifest Destiny" promoting American exceptionalism, should now be parroted by Trump's minions in the White House.
Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Asked 2 years, 1 month ago. Active 2 years, 1 month ago. Viewed 6k times. There is a related question about the phrase here, but it doesn't deal with the history or origin of the phrase: Walls closing in The phrase got a lot of attention recently when someone close to U. Did Roosevelt's use of the phrase prompt the popularity of the metaphor?
Are there earlier examples of the phrase used in a figurative context? From Julia Pardoe, " The Headsman of Strasbourg ," in the [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] Post June 24,originally published in Episodes of French History During the Consulate and the First Empireby Miss Pardoe: Mad[d]ened by the thought [of betrayal], the wretched woman became unconscious alike of fatigue and fear, and her only desire was to escape from the terrors which she was surrounded.
From " Our Trip ," in the [Springfield] Illinois Farmer July 1, : From that point south we observe a change of soil for the better, and as the lake winds have faded away into other air currents, coming from the south and west, vegetation is much more advanced. Poe never refers to the walls Lifes In Jail - Various - Hold Me - Smooth, Soft & Groovy Dance Ballads "closing in," however, although he does end with this image: There was a loud Walls Closing In - Agitator - Walls Closing In as of many trumpets!
From William Mudford, " The Iron Shroud ," originally in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine : At last a horrible suspicion flashed suddenly across his mind, and he [Vivenzio] started up with a frantic air. Sven Yargs Sven Yargs k 21 21 gold badges silver badges bronze badges. A weekly journal conducted by Charles Dickens. Volume I. Mary Cholmondeley His mind only bungled up against ideas, hustled them, so to speak, till they turned savage.
I haven't been able to find anything on the walls of Vengeance. Xanne Xanne 7, 3 3 gold badges 15 15 silver badges 33 33 bronze badges. In that story is this passage: The roof of the cavern became lower, and I journeyed on till it was so low I could not stand erect. Sign up or log in Sign up using Google.
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