The Character Of Daisy In Henry James' Daisy Miller

2225 words - 9 pages

 
       What is the purpose of Daisy in the novel Daisy Miller by Henry James?  Why did James create such a beguiling and bewildering character?  Since the publication of James's novel in 1878, Daisy has worn several labels, among them "flirt," "innocent," and "American Girl."  Daisy's representation of an American Girl of the late 19th century is evident.  Her free-spiritedness and individuality reflect the social movement of the American middle-class.  The question of Daisy's innocence, however, remains unanswered.  One of the most interesting aspects about Daisy is her distance from the reader.  The reader is not given access to Daisy's inner thoughts or emotions.  Instead, the reader must observe Daisy through the limited perception of her would-be lover, Frederick Winterbourne.  Although Daisy's psyche is a mystery, her relationship with Winterbourne reveals her true purpose in the novel.  Daisy is a failed catalyst, or an agent of change.  She offers Winterbourne spontaneity, freedom and love.  In other words, through daisy, Winterbourne has an opportunity to change.   But Winterbourne rejects her and thus Daisy fails as a catalyst.  Ironically, by rejecting Daisy, Winterbourne fails himself.

        One way in with Daisy fails as an agent of change is that she is a member of the newly rich American middle-class.  Winterbourne, however, is a member of the Europeanized American class who are, as Ian F. A. Bell notes, "only slightly less 'nouveau' (newly rich) than the mercantilist Millers" (Reeve 23).  These Europeanized Americans, aptly represented by Winterbourne's aunt, reject Daisy and her family because they want to retain their higher position on the social ladder.  Ironically, Daisy Miller may have been accepted by Mrs. Costello and her friends if she had behaved like them - rigid, controlled, and rejecting others lower on the social ladder.  Henry James's Daisy, however, is a free-spirited individual who "ignores class structures and customary behavior...treating all she meets as equal human beings" (Hocks 33).  At first Winterbourne is enchanted by Daisy's freshness and spontaneity.  But eventually, under his aunt's influence, he begins to turn away from Daisy and the freedom she offers.   He vacillates from thinking of her as pretty and charming to regarding her, as his aunt does, as "common" and "rather wild" (James 461).

        One reason for Winterbourne's changing opinions about Daisy is that she associates with people of lower classes.  She talks to chambermaids and couriers, for instance.  But most damning is her friendship with the Italian music-master, Mr. Giovanelli, who is socially unacceptable to Winterbourne and his aunt.  Daisy's close friendship with Giovanelli lessens her chances of being accepted by Mrs. Costello and her contemporaries.  Daisy's relationship with Giovanelli leads to Winterbourne's conviction that she is "wanting in a certain indispensable delicacy" (James 477).  Thus, in Winterbourne's...

Find Another Essay On The Character of Daisy in Henry James' Daisy Miller

Sound and music in Bogdanovich's adaptation of Henry James' "Daisy Miller"

6315 words - 25 pages 1. IntroductionThis paper deals with the sound and music in Bogdaovich's adaptation of Henry James' Daisy Miller.I chose this topic because I always had a deep interest in the sound of a movie. The term itself includes the words that the actors speak as well as each single noise that can be heard in the film. Sounds represent the actions of people and there are many ways in which sound and noise are added to a film.Moreover, I am a big fan of

Henry James' Daisy Miller and Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence

1001 words - 4 pages Both Daisy Miller by Henry James and The Age of Innocence, based on the novel by Edith Wharton are either social commentaries or love stories set in corrupt society. The male leads, Newland Archer and Winterbourne, help to show, assuming the goal is commentary, the dishonest and frivolous nature of society. Newland and Winterbourne’s stories and characters run on corresponding motives, as they are the offspring of that society

Judgement in Henry James’s Daisy Miller

1384 words - 6 pages Henry James’s “Daisy Miller” represents the societal views and the conformed way of living. This short story starts off in Vevey, Switzerland where Daisy meets Winterbourne through her brother Randolph. Winterbourne accompanies Daisy in a walk. Throughout the story Daisy is considered a flirt because she is accompanied by men. Each time Winterbourne crosses her path; there is gossip about how improper it is to be walking around with so many men

Emily Dickinson's Faith and Daisy Miller by Henry James

1144 words - 5 pages American writers and poets of the 19th century created literature to criticize and detail the imperfections of society. Emily Dickinson, who retired from contact with the outside world by the age of twenty-three in favor of a life of isolation, can arguably be considered such a poet. Her untitled poem "Faith" can be interpreted as criticism of the masculine-dominated society of her time and supports themes in Henry James's work Daisy Miller: A

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Paul’s Case by Willa Cather, and Daisy Miller by Henry James

1493 words - 6 pages , specifically American narratives. Concisely, the narratives that will be brought into analysis include: The Awakening by Kate Chopin, “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather, and Daisy Miller by Henry James. Primarily, premature death is seen in the novella, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. In brief, this story revolves around Edna Pontellier, wife of a very wealthy Creole businessman, Léonce Pontellier. The novella focuses on the awakening of Edna who

Annotations of Daisy Miller

536 words - 2 pages , comedy and irony all rolled up in one, it is simply a masterful effect, with all such ingredients.Dupee, F.W.," Henry James': William Sloane Associates", (1951) p 301Discusses how the book Daisy Miller a success while the European were failing to amuse readers in 1878. The story was a success of a scandal with a large American public. Daisy Miller is both a love story and a story of comparative manners. Projected through a single mind in a stricter

Daisy miller

1673 words - 7 pages sometimes make one feel like dying.I loved Daisy Miller. It is the best book I have ever read by Henry James. Though I did enjoy The Turn of the Screw, I found this novel easier to relate to because the heroine was a young lady who was about my age. It was also much better than The Bostonians, which I did not enjoy, because all of the characters acted like the Europeans in Daisy Miller.The most memorable moment of this book was when Winterborne

Comparing Daisy and Countess Olenska in Daisy Miller and The Age of Innocence

557 words - 2 pages The story “Daisy Miller” is a romance of a love that can never be. The character Annie P. Miller (known as Daisy Miller) is portrayed as a young naive wild yet, innocent girl who want to do nothing more but have fun with the company she please. The story “Daisy Miller” is a lot like The Age of Innocence. In both the movie and the book the leading lady was shunned from society because of their behavior. Both Daisy and the Countess Olenska were

This essay describes James' manipulation of appearances versus reality in his novella, Daisy Miller

1091 words - 4 pages . He structures the novella in such a way as to stress the insights that the supporting characters provide into Daisy's character, weather accurate or erroneous. Despite their questionable reliability, they allow James to make commentary on the idea of foreignism and Americanism as well as status and wealth within these societies.In Daisy Miller the protagonist, Daisy, rebels against convention and runs from any stereotype that could be applied to

A review of "the story of Daisy Mille"r By Henry James

617 words - 2 pages Daisy Miller: A StudyIn the story Daisy Miller by Henry James, the character Daisy Miller is portrayed as being a typical American flirt. In Europe the manner of young unmarried women is not that of Miss Daisy Miller. Throughout the story other character, helping to come to the conclusion that she is a flirt observes her flirtatious behavior. Her male friend, Winterbourne, is the object of her flirtatious manner. The question of her being a

This Is A Paraphrase Paper Of A Scene In Daisy Miller By Henry James. The Paper Not Only Paraphrases The Scene, But It Also Delves Deep Into The Thoughts Of The Characters And The Author

1149 words - 5 pages --Fluctuations--Daisy Miller, Henry JamesChapter 3, pg.88-90· Note: I will not make a clearly identifiable distinction between the narrator, Winterbourne or myself, as I believe this haziness to be a fundamental mode of transmission of the message the author wants to portray. The short story 'Daisy Miller' is quite ironically not about Daisy at all. Rather it is a novel about Winterbourne and more broadly about society as a whole. In fact

Similar Essays

The Individuality Of Daisy In Henry James' Daisy Miller

1735 words - 7 pages Why did James create such a beguiling and bewildering character? Since the publication of James's novel in 1878, Daisy has worn several labels, among them "flirt," "innocent," and "American Girl." Daisy's representation of an American Girl of the late 19th century is evident. Her free-spiritedness and individuality reflect the social movement of the American middle-class. The “depths” of Daisy Miller that Kelley refers to could be read

Duality Of Nature In Henry James' Daisy Miller

1788 words - 7 pages the flaws and strengths we see in Miss Daisy Miller.  Like us, this young American girl is completely human—possessing a dual nature of both virtue and sin—and because of her realistic nature, she has a greater moral influence on us.  We come to realize that the issue is not black and white as Winterbourne insists, but rather it is complex and double sided in a world that has more gray than black or white.                                      Works Cited    James, Henry.  Daisy Miller. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1995.

Daisy Miller By Henry James Essay

1009 words - 4 pages nature in comparison to the standards of European society. Winterbourne's opinion of Daisy changes from acceptance to condemnation as his tolerance of cultural standards is clouded by the prejudices of the European aristocrats. Upon their first meeting, Winterbourne is enchanted by Daisy Miller. She was a pretty American girl who was very fresh and different compared to the unmarried women of Europe. Although, at first, Winterbourne was bemused

Daisy Miller: A Study, By Henry James

1204 words - 5 pages The controversial short story Daisy Miller: A Study, written by Henry James, depicts a story of a young European man named Winterbourne trying to come to terms with what he thinks about an American girl, named Daisy Miller. Henry James was born in New York in 1843, but lived most his life in Europe. While he was living in Europe he had many encounters with American tourists. After these encounters Henry decided he wanted to explore the