chapter  3
30 Pages

A ‘Terrible Old Lady’: The Persona of ‘Mary Midnight’

This chapter explores both the topics of content and of form: as John Sitter has said, attention to form, and the 'tendency to minimize the history in satire', has been a feature of Augustan criticism. Menippean satire was a medley-usually a medley of alternating prose and verse, sometimes a jumble of flagrantly digressive narrative, or again a potpourri of tales, songs, dialogues, orations, letters, lists and other brief forms mixed together. The best way to approach the argument that the Midwife should be recognized as an example of Menippean satire is to enquire a little more closely into individual methodologies in use in the magazine. The prosopopoeic letter is the most common form of satire in the Midwife. The term 'estate' refers to monetary as well as landed assets, for its usage in the sense of land only post-dates the Midwife. The legacies of classical and Renaissance satire are again to be observed underwriting Mrs. Midnight's modus operandi here.