Critical Evaluation

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 420

MEMOIRS OF A MIDGET is a highly original novel that mingles poetry and social criticism. Exquisitely written, it has an unfailing charm and interest. The careful and exact use of the proper perspective throughout the thoughtfully executed work is remarkable. Nor can the reader fail to note the veiled criticisms of society that the author puts into the mouth of tiny Miss M.

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Two gardens in MEMOIRS OF A MIDGET are of interest because in them Miss M. has her most memorable experiences. One garden is the forested, flowered area at Wanderlore, her family home in Kent. The other is the wooded park near Mrs. Bowater’s home.

During her childhood, Miss M. enjoys the company of small animals and insects in the family garden. Here, too, she searches the treetops looking for Paradise, the first indication of her awareness of something beyond her small world. She also learns about death for the first time when she sees a dead mole. Later, when she is living at Mrs. Bowater’s house, Miss M. discovers that the woods nearby are an excellent place for viewing stars. The dark sky spangled with stars gives her a feeling that a great Being is in charge of the universe. She is surprised to learn that the sense of peace and order she gains there is not shared by Fanny, who dislikes the spot when she visits it with Miss M.

In these woods, Miss M. becomes acquainted with Mr. Anon. She finds him unattractive in appearance but pleasant to talk with; however, because she has led a sheltered life, she disbelieves him when he tries to explain to her that the world includes evil as well as good. At a later date, Mr. Anon tells her of a happy land in which people are so small that they are almost invisible. He also declares his love for Miss M.

After Mr. Anon’s death, the grief-stricken Miss M. recognizes serious flaws in herself. The remote area of the woods where this self-discovery occurs seems ugly to her, as she seems to herself. She tries to commit suicide by eating the poisonous berries of the nightshade plant. Changing her mind, she prays to God for help.

Miss M. survives to find peace again and to complete her memoirs. Then she disappears. Walter de la Mare does not tell the reader where she goes, but perhaps she travels to a land where people are small enough to be almost invisible and large enough to be happy.

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