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Daisy Miller
by Henry James


The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Henry James, published in Cornhill Magazine in 1878 and published in book form in 1879. The book's title character is a young American woman traveling in Europe with her mother. There she is courted by Frederick Forsyth Winterbourne, an American living abroad. In her innocence, Daisy is compromised by her friendship with an Italian man. Her behavior shocks Winterbourne and the other Americans living in Italy, and they shun her. Only after she dies does Winterbourne recognize that her actions reflected her spontaneous, genuine, and unaffected nature and that his suspicions of her were unwarranted. Like others of James's works, Daisy Miller uses the contrast between American innocence and European sophistication as a powerful tool with which to examine social conventions.


From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 01:41 PM Today is the official start of the discussion of Daisy Miller. Several people have commented on what a welcome change this story is from James' later convoluted prose. How sad that his writing seemed to get worse, or at least much more difficult, the longer he stuck with it. Or do more knowledgeable critics see it another way? This story is written in a completely different age, when "nice" young women had little freedom to do anything without a chaperone. Although Daisy's behavior would not raise eyebrows today, I think we can still relate to a story which discusses the costs of flouting social conventions. ******Spoiler ALERT******************** Was Daisy's death her symbolic punishment for her foolhardy behavior, or did James just need a tidy way to end the story?
From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 01:51 PM From FOUL MATTER by Martha Grimes, comments about Henry James in a conversation between writers: "Don't you think he had his books all plotted out and drowning in detail before he started. All of those perfectly carved paragraphs, all of those sentences as taut as piano wire. Pluck one and it resonates, right?" pres asks: When you read James, how much are you reading the story and how much are you reading the writing ? pres Life is hard, tough as nails, That's why we need fairy tales.
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 04:29 PM Pres, I think you can't read James without taking both the story and the writing into account, especially knowing that his writing varies so greatly between the beginning and the end of his career. Ann, I think Daisy's death was symbolic. First of, this is again a story of change within the European Victorian era (a prominent theme in James' novels,) perhaps a death of sorts, of social status reliant on old money and stoic customs. I gather the Miller's money was new money. And possibly that's true of most of the characters in this novella. (Am I right in thinking most of these people were American? I believe they were.) They all paraded around with their noses in the air, trying so very hard to meld into the mores of old European elite. Often the question was asked..was Daisy just so innocent that she didn't realize she was breaking with all higher societal mores? I really don't think that was the case. I think Daisy knew exactly what she was doing and refused to compromise her own value system in order to fit in and be accepted. It's no wonder men loved her and women hated her; she was a breath of fresh air to the former and a threat to the latter. I loved this little book. Beej
From: Dale Short dshort@bham.rr.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 04:39 PM Beej writes: It's no wonder men loved her and women hated her; she was a breath of fresh air to the former and a threat to the latter. My sentiments exactly, Beej. I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer candor of some of Daisy's responses, and laughing out loud is not something I typically do with 19th century fiction in general, much less Henry James. On the other hand, the seeming randomness of her temperament was a real pain in the rear for poor Winterbourne. Do you think Daisy enjoyed coolly pitting her male admirers against one another, to the point of cruelty, or was there also an element of the neurotic in her, i.e. she didn't fully realize the consequences of her actions? >>Dale in Ala. http://www.writerstoolkit.com
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 04:46 PM Dale, I might be wrong, but I don't think Daisy was pitting suitors against one another. I think she was with whom she wanted to be with, when she wanted to be with them, and the devil take whoever felt offended by it! She also had, because of her untimely death, youth eternally on her side, and maybe with time her rebelliousness against social mores would have eased as she aged, but we'll never know and James insured that even the memory of Daisy remained faithful to her youthful ideals. That might be exactly why he killed her off! Beej
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 04:53 PM I think, too, that Daisy reminded these other 'American-turned-English-Snobs' of their true roots. They were basically social wannabes, imposters. Daisy knew she wasn't really aristocracy, no matter how much money her family gathered. She refused to make any pretenses about it. Beej
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 04:57 PM I read somewhere that Daisy Miller was a forerunner to A Portrait of a Lady, at least that it was the germination of the idea for the later book. In that one, James' theme tended to be about the innocence of the American in comparison to the European personality (I'm trying to think of the word I want for the latter, but am drawing a blank). The sense I had of Daisy was of that contrast. She was curious, enthusiastic and determined to get the most out of the experience. I don't think that James meant her death as a punishment for her "sins" but as a metaphor for what European society did to her innocence. Gilbert Osmand had much the same effect on Isabel Archer, though she got to live. Milly Theale didn't fare too well in The Wings of the Dove either. I find it interesting that James chose to live in Europe and yet often painted Europeans in such a negative light, at least as contrasted with Americans. Barb
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 05:03 PM Oh Barb! How fascinating it is to me that Daisy was the forerunning model for Isobel Archer! Of course she was, and I didn't see that until you said it! Didn't James usually use the young leading women in his novels as symbols for countries, especially America and England? And I totally agree; Daisy's death was symbolic for many things, including an acceptance by late Victorian society of anything or anyone who would dare to not live up to their standards. Beej
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 05:09 PM Can you imagine having your first trip to Europe and being accompanied by Daisy's mother who certainly lacked curiosity and enthusiasm? As Daisy is busting to come free of that, she is met by all of the societal rules that she is not supposed to break. What did you think about her little brother? There must be some significance to his character being included. Do you think he was just a younger form of Daisy or something else? Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 06:21 PM Dale, I wouldn't accuse Daisy of cruelty towards her male suitors, but as delightful as I found her, the thought did occur to me that Winterbourne would have tired of her pretty quickly if they ever had gotten together. There wasn't much depth. She struck me basically as a party girl. In that respect, Barb, I think Isobel Archer was definitely an improvement. But then, she is one of my favorite characters in 19th century literature. You asked an excellent question - if James was so critical of the Europeans, why did he stay in Europe? Beej, I thought that Daisy's family was not only nouveau riche, but from the lower middle class. Since her mother was too exhausted (depressed?) to do much of anything, she pretty much had to go unchaperoned if she wanted to do much. That brother was really something, wasn't he? I kept wondering if he had lost permanent teeth to the candy, or if James really didn't know when permanent teeth came in. He was 9, and by then I wouldn't expect him to have so many missing teeth. Pres, in this story, I think that plot and character are as important as the style of writing. I wouldn't say that about all his books. Ann
From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 10:38 PM I just wasn't taken with Daisy at all. Thought she was a ninny. It didn't seem to me that she was flouting the rules purposely like a free spirit. She was such an airhead she didn't even realize there were such rules. Notice how amazed she was every time it was pointed out to her. As for the Brat Brother. I assume someone had enough of him and knocked out those missing teeth. Growl. Ruth
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 11:21 PM (Ruth, I think you should stop holding back, and tell us how you REALLY feel! Hahahahaha!!) Beej
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 01, 2003 11:27 PM Seriously, as much as I always respect your insights, I have to disagree with you on this one. There were a couple instances where Daisy made it more than clear she knew what was being said about her, and more than anything, it irritated her, especially in that one instance where that woman (I can't remember her name) wanted Daisy to get in the cart with her instead of roaming around with the 'little Italian.' Beej
From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 08:22 AM I have a prosaic question to ask. Never mind whether Daisy was really flaunting rules or was just dumb, never mind how the brother lost teeth. I want to know how in the world can being out late at night in Rome kill you? This idea seems so familiar to me that I swore we read a short story with the same idea, but I couldn't find it. What I think has happened is that I saw the movie with Cybill Shepherd a long time ago and then read the book. It was such a shortie, I had forgotten I'd read it. But what can you catch at night that evades you in the daytime? Sherry
From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 10:07 AM Sherry -- we did read such a story but I've forgotten both title and author -- though I do recall the conversation between two women on a balcony as they sat out and the night fell around them the conversation turned to this idea. I had such a strong visual image from the reading of that scene that even now it is clear in my mind's eye. I also think this was one we had to read online and it was before we started including online stories regularly again -- I'll try to see if I can haul the title or author out of the mists -- but someone else will likely recall before I do. Haven't read Daisy Miller again but am going to do so -- will read this whole thread once I have done so -- I have a vague recollection of reading it but no recall whatsoever of what I read. Dottie
From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 11:08 AM The story was Roman Fever, by Edith Wharton. I remember it because it was my nomination, and one of my alltime favorites. As I understand it, Roman fever was malaria. Which you get when you go out at night with the mosquitos. Let alone little Italians. R
From: Dale Short dshort@bham.rr.com Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 12:41 PM When you read James, how much are you reading the story and how much are you reading the writing? Interesting question, Pres. I'm not sure a reader is ever able to completely put aside his/her knowledge about, and expectations of, a given writer. But for me personally, the relatively straightforward style of "Daisy Miller" made the writing itself less of a factor in absorbing the story than with any other James I've read. >>Dale in Ala. http://www.writerstoolkit.com
From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 05:00 PM I knew I had read something about it before. Thanks, Ruth and Dottie for clearing that up. Sherry
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 12:28 AM I had the feeling throughout that Daisy simply couldn't be bothered with all of the social rules that restricted what she could experience. At first, she was ignorant of them and, once she knew about them, they just seemed too ridiculous for words. I can understand how you would think that Daisy was less than likeable, Ruth. I much prefer Isabel Archer in Portrait of a Lady to Daisy. Isabel is more of a woman; Daisy is more of a girl. But, I liked her contrast with that staid old society. Barb
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 11:19 PM I'd love to know what kind of reaction this book got from readers, especially English upper class, when it was first published. I wonder what they thought of Daisy. I've been looking on the web for accounts of that, but haven't found any yet. I have a feeling that when this book was first published, most people admired Daisy, or at least enjoyed her hutzpah. Beej
From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 11:43 PM James kept on stating that Daisy was so charming and agreeable but Daisyís behavior didnít match the authorís PR. I can see why Ruth got perturbed. I took the attitude that Daisy was indeed charming and imagined her that way despite the dialogue. I guess I did that because Daisy reminds me somewhat of my sister who is exceptionally beautiful and loves to thumb her nose at convention, but does so charmingly. My sister has received many a cold shoulder but her enthusiasm for life leaves them in the dust. Therefore, I get a positive picture of Daisy. Daisyís death seems to be cautionary. Isnít James saying that it may be freeing and fun to ignore suffocating social strictures, but there are some conventions that mustnít be ignored? Social pioneering is actually dangerous. Robt
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 07:34 AM Beej and Robt, Daisy was pretty flighty, but she was also very young. I think she would have matured as she grew up, although I suspect she would have remained a lightweight. Beej, I found this information on the web, although I don't know how reliable the source is. The address doesn't inspire much confidence. The writing is attributed to Susannah Mandel, Harvard University. http://www.campusnut.com/book.cfm?article_id=950 DAISY OUTRAGEOUS: Although Daisy Miller turned out to be one of the most lastingly popular of James's works, the first magazine he submitted it to rejected it without comment. The editor of Lippincott's, an American magazine based in Philadelphia, mailed James back the manuscript without an explanation -- which James thought very strange, since the editor had published his works before. A friend whom he gave the story to read explained to James that he thought the editor must have seen the tale as "an outrage on American girlhood"! But the magazine readership of England and America didn't seem to be outraged. Or, if they were, they loved Daisy Miller anyway: on its 1878 magazine publication in England, the story was almost immediately published in pirated editions in Boston and New York. James claimed to be proud of this "sweet tribute," but because of it -- there were no international copyright laws at that time to protect authors from this kind of thing -- he saw very little money from the American sales of the book.
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 07:51 AM Ann, that same information is in the introduction to my edition so I think it is fairly reliable. The introduction also quotes this letter from William Dean Howells to James Russell Lowell written in the latter part of 1878: There has been a vast discussion in which nobody felt very deeply, and everybody talked very loudly. The thing went so far that society almost divided itself into Daisy Millerites and anti-Daisy Millerites. I was glad of it for I hoped that in making James so thoroughly known, it would call attention to the beautiful work he had been doing so long for very few readers. The text goes on to say that, of all of James' fictions, this is the one that was the most immediately popular. He had been publishing since 1864, but this story (referred to by James as a "nouvelle") was the one that first got him public attention. It's too bad that he lost the royalties but it is probably responsible for money that he made on later books (my inference, not the intro's). Barb
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 08:50 AM Thanks Ann and Barb..Daisymillerites and anti-Daisymillerites, huh? It seems that holds true even today..at least it does here in this discussion! I had a feeling it might have caused a bit of a brouhaha back then. Beej
From: Tonya Presley t-pr@comcast.net Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 09:44 AM As to Daisy's death, instead of wondering if it was her just reward for being a twerp, I wondered if it wasn't almost like her chosen way out. Society had snubbed her, the narrator hadn't seen her for a while. It seemed to me the last big snub, at the end of a party when the hostess turned her back on Daisy, she really finally got it. Even if she never said so, her behavior began to affect her everyday life. She was unable to conform, but unhappy with her isolation. Rock, and hard place. Tonya
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 09:50 AM I even wondered, tho I really didn't have a basis for it, whether Daisy was either already ill, or if she had some foreboding sense that she would die young, and decided not to waste time dealing with all those silly society mores. Beej
From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 11:00 AM I think that Daisy seemed to be largely unconscious of the degree to which she offended society in Europe. Itís a good point, Ann, that she was very young, and certainly acted it. Her attitude was that she was being true to her own moral standards and cultural breeding and didnít give a fig for the stiff European ways. After all, she reasoned, she wasnít a European. She just wanted to be freely herself. The American attitude abroad is still very much this way. Itís a type of unconscious arrogance: this is how I do it in my country so itís the way Iíll do it in your country. James is zeroing in on the natural conflict of being abroadóthe abrasion of cultural interaction. Those who have been abroad awhile are conscious of it, such as Mrs. Walker, who was also an American. Daisy hadnít a clue. When I lived in Japan I was in a small city where there were only two westernersómyself and the high school English teacher. I was involved with very traditional Japanese people and in this setting I had to be constantly vigilant against making a faux pas, which I did often anyway. After being there for awhile I had a friend visit me and I was appalled at his lack of respect for the Japanese ways I had learned. He was unaware that he was being offensive and resistant to my admonitions. So, I can see this conflict from two sides. Daisyís attitude was limiting and isolating and if she had survived she hopefully would have matured into more socially aware and sensitive behavior. On the other hand, Daisy, along with other American youths, has been influential on European society, infusing a free and open element. Whereís the balance? Robt
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 11:15 AM Robert, good post. I really enjoyed your observations. Thanks! I think Daisy was already predisposed to disliking European elite even before she got there. She made a comment about European fashion, and how, seeing the best, most beautiful European imported clothing in New York City, surmised all the best apparel had been send to America, since most the dresses she had seen worn in Europe were quite ugly. Beej
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 12:58 PM On the subject of the changes in James' writing style over the years - The same website I mentioned earlier says that late in his career James made revisions to Daisy Miller which are generally not included in today's editions "because they replace the quick, light touch of the original story with the slow, complex prose mechanisms James was using thirty years later -- at a point in his career when he was generally known simply as "the Master." The 1907 edition of Daisy Miller includes an interesting preface, which gives some background on the genesis and history of the story, but which also demonstrates the ponderousness at which James's prose had arrived. A typical moment from this preface, in which James quotes a woman who challenged him about the book, goes as follows: 'You know you quite falsified, by the turn you gave it, the thing you had begun with having in mind, the thing you had had, to satiety, the chance of 'observing': your pretty perversion of it, or your unprincipled mystification of our sense of it, does it really too much honour -- in spite of which, none the less, as anything charming or touching always to that extent justifies itself, we after a fashion forgive and understand you." You too may forgive Henry James for this sentence, but can you understand him?
From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 01:08 PM You too may forgive Henry James for this sentence, but can you understand him? I don't forgive him. I might understand him if I thought the sentence worth the trouble. pres Life is hard, tough as nails, That's why we need fairy tales.
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, September 04, 2003 09:07 PM :) I agree, Pres. How did James get by with such atrocious writing in his later life? Were people afraid to tell him the truth because he was on a pedestal? Ann
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, September 07, 2003 12:51 AM I think Daisy is similar to your friend who visited you in Japan, Robt. I sympathized with her desire to experience things to the fullest, but she was a bit arrogant at times. I had forgotten that. I like James later fiction writing. However, his nonfiction, as in his introductions, is indecipherable. I am amazed that anyone can read it. Barb
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, September 07, 2003 10:49 AM Barb, I like James's The Turn of the Screw (1898 - his most popular novel), The Portrait of a Lady (1881 - two years after Daisy Miller), and Washington Square(1881). Wings of the Dove (1902) had its moments, but I think it is much weaker than Portrait. Ann
From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 07:17 AM Thanks for including the time frame on those novels, Ann. It makes an interesting point. I remember liking The Turn of the Screw when we read it here long ago, but it was the first James that I had read so I didn't have any basis of comparison. I remember it being more like Daisy Miller though in terms of the writing style. Portrait of a Lady frustrated me enormously at first. Then, I fell into James style and was very glad I read it. It's stayed with me more than anything else of his. I was more ready for him when we got to <>The Wings of the Dove and don't remember being irritated by the writing much. I liked it but it hasn't had the impact over time for me of Lady. Now, you have me curious about Washington Square since you liked it! But, you probably wouldn't want to do a reread on CC next year, right? Barb
From: Sheila Ash Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 10:38 AM I am interested what people make of his narrator. I assume it is meant to be a man, but why I am not sure I think this. Using a unknown narrator to tell the story after the event I suppose gives a sense a sense of knowing all that happened and allows the author to present the story in an unbiased, non judgemental way. Now what about Giovanni? I was actually surprised with his confession at the funeral. I had been thinking of him as the fortune hunter, playboy type but was left with exactly the opposite impression. Also near the end of the story when Winterbourne tackles Daisy about being given the cold shoulder by society, she looks at him intently and only then begins to blushĖ i.e. she does realise what is happening, but canít stop herself and canít believe how innocent behaviour can be so looked down on because she is not really doing anything wrong. Upon reflection I think these two scenes strengthen the view that Daisy was niaive of just how far she was breaking social conventions. Perhaps Daisy just thought it was the battle between the old and new money classes and nothing actually to do with her behaviour per se that was causing the problem. As for the brother Ė he is young, impetuous, playful, likes his sweets Ė very like Europeans view of the up and coming US at that time I would suspect. The very end has reports reaching the narrator that Winterbourne is much interested in a clever foreign lady. Is this a delayed story, actually referring to Daisy? Or is it another lady? Do you think she is a misplaced substitute for unrequited love of Daisy, or not? Whoever it refers to the gossip is clearly not of the same kind as befell Daisy. Men get away with it, women don't! Sheila
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 01:06 PM Barb, I think we discussed Washington Square in the early days of Classics Corner, but it must have been really early if you weren't there to participate. Sheila, The foreign lady is mentioned when Winterbourne is first introduced: What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there--a foreign lady--a person older than himself. I think this is the same lady who is mentioned again at the end. You are so right about the double standard for men and women, particularly in this period! I wondered if Daisy might have been more careful about social conventions if she had been at home. After all, she was traveling, and most of these people she would never see again. I was also surprised that the Italian had no serious designs on Daisy, but I think it was necessary for James to make the relationship between Daisy and the Italian completely innocent to show just how artificial and out-of-date these social rules were. Ann
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 03:19 PM Great posts here and I have had a lot of fun catching up and reading them all. I am hopelessly in love with Daisy Miller. Her death made the world a lesser place. I totally understand why some people love her and some people don't...and it's a sign of how well James captured her spirit and personality. I think she represents a country. Or a continent, heh heh. I see that Ann and Beej have put notes about that, and I don't think I could add to their insights. Um, Daisy Miller is Americans. Okay, actually she is Canadians too. So she is North America to this reader. I am from the camp that she is aware of her attitude and not aware, it doesn't matter. She is all that is wonderful about living and growing up in America. I think James wrote a love story about his home town. I also totally understand why people like how he writes or hate it. I happen to love how he writes, from the early novels to his last novels. But...it does take a certain amount of surrender to get into them. Theres no room for the reader at first...until one gives up and just lets it happen. He's not for everyone though, and I don't think that is a big deal. Different strokes for different folks. I did chuckle out loud though at some of the posts about her...the funny thing is I think a lot of the rest of the world thinks we are ninnys and arrogant and silly and disrespectful of conventions... I re-read the first chapter today...and again I am amazed with how funny and clever and insightful and flirty Daisy is with Mr. Winterbourne. And I am also amazed how there doesn't seem to be any warning in that chapter about the poor womans fate. >br> In the first chapter Winterbourne sees her movements as that of a princess. What made her like that. Not money, not schools but the very positive side of living in America allows one to attain that kind of freedom and grace...without "status." Is Daisy Miller just a party girl? Absolutely. And why the heck would anyone have any other motives in life than to get together with people make new friends and adventures and dress with fun and joy and visit. Life is short. Its those occasions when we visit and meet new friends and chat and hang out that are the high points in life and memories. Who needs stuffy conventions and phony attitudes and drab boring conversations? Hear hear to the party girls of the world. they got their priorities straight!
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 03:20 PM (p.s. in a lot of ways, Daisy is like Elle in Legally Blonde, only one story is a tragedy and the other is a comedy)
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 03:32 PM I wonder if Grace Kelly ever read Daisy Miller...?
From: Ernest Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 01:49 AM James' simple style surprised me no end. I only remember reading one of his books that was somewhat less convoluted than the others (Wings of the Dove) Yes, Daisy paid little attention to the well established social rules for female members of the upper class. This set of rules controlling behavior were designed to make their status and class obvious to all Why? The answer is simple. The life of the lower or working classes was indescribably difficult and cruel. So it became essential, especially for girls and women, to behave in a way which would make their status obvious to all. This was not just British snobbery, it was a must in all "civilized" societies. Edith Wharton's book deal frequently with this particular issue. Do you remember Mr. Winterbourne "friend" in Geneva (I believe). What was the nature of their relationship? Was this "older" friend a member of society? It appears that the set of behavioral rules differed markedly for the sexes. Young ladies must be protected, chaperoned as protection from others and their own impulses. This rules though modified still exist in various countries and social groups. Most Europeans looked at the US as relatively unrestrained from class rules. Daisy's model of behavior were not members of the American upper classes and much of her behavior stems from the fact that her mother was definitely not "old money" and knew little of society's rules. It was natural for Daisy to be impressed by the Roman gentle man who paid attention to her. She was also very much attracted by Winterbourne even though the latter was stiff and inhibited and could not really understand Daisy's behavior. So there were vastly different rules for males and females and this caused serious problem as described by a number of authors of their period. I also believe that Daisy died because she broke societies rules. James developed an ending which both be dramatic and appease the readers of his period. For the heck of it, I wonder what would have happened if James had her stay alive and continue with her unorthodox flirtatious behavior? Ernie
From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 11:12 AM Ernie, Excellent observations about the reasons for the special rules of behavior for upper class women. What would have happened if James had let Daisy stay alive and continue with her behavior? I'm guessing she would have ended up pregnant and a social outcast. That would also have been a fittingly dramatic ending for a piece of fiction. However, in real life, she might have ended up married to a good-looking, but poor man who was just out to make an advantageous marriage. In time, she would have become disillusioned with her choice, but settled into a more conventional lifestyle in her own country. Ann
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:12 PM Insightful thoughts Ernest. What would have happened if Daisy Miller had lived? She would have returned to America from her travels, continued the party circuit, get married have a couple of kids and do dishes for the rest of her life. Just like every other girl does. (okay, maybe she would have married to another well off person, and had a house keeper...) I survived Europe, I suspect Daisy would have too. :-) Ernest said:"Most Europeans looked at the US as relatively unrestrained from class rules." I am sure there must have been a couple of others here, like me, who travelled Europe as teenage girls, or at least as young women...? It's a mad house. With pros and cons. Men groping you, calling out names, at the best, there were some gentlemen who might buy my gal pals and I a drink. Bonus. And chat and visit or offer to take us sightseeing...and , of course, hoping to get lucky because they were mistaking us for American girls... or sales people hawking stuff on the streets...thinking dumb dumb North Americans wouldn't have a clue about the currency welll, now that I think about it, its not that different than hanging out in any large North American city, heh heh. As much as I appreciate the fears of the "morally upright" to protect young single women in the times that Daisy Miller was travelling...I am not quite so hard on her for her sassy ways. Are we all quite so seriously against a flirt that we believe she should be punished with death? I truly can't imagine a world where dinner parties and cocktail parties exist without flirting. Oh dear. Yawn. Even upwardly mobile Prada toting ladies in Europe and America flirt...to this day. Flirting is one way for an eligible young lady to sort out the men and find one that is worthy. I actually found many of the characters that Daisy encountered to be rude and judgmental . I also understand that that kind of behavior between "perceived different societies" is socially acceptable and a standard practice of protection. It still exists. One interesting and stimulating observation between past times is that many other countries have huge subcultures that emulate what it is to LOOK American. Street dancers in Japan dressing like 50's greasers, flipping Zippos and dancing swing to American pop music. Or folks moving to North America put away their traditional clothes and adopt slang and cigarettes and a love for brand name products. This kind of homogenization is a sign of the power of "the US as relatively unrestrained from class rules." ...and that is is seen as a kind of freedom and liberation. If you can't afford a Prada, you can get a knock off and swagger like John Wayne and smoke like Bogey. I see it all the time. With this knowledge...maybe Daisy might have been another bored housewife in her future...but possibly with her spirit and charm she might have raised future rock stars or poets or artists... and told funny stories about the rude stuffy folks she met when a kid in Europe... Maybe she wasn't a heroine. The fact that she died seems pretty typical of a hero in literature though, heh heh. but if she wasn't intended as a heroine then...I believe she has been a foreshadowing of class and attitude. For many, she is a hero now.
From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:36 PM Rules of behavior: Young ladies must be protected, chaperoned as protection from others and their own impulses. (Ernest B.) Particularly upper class young ladies and heiresses. Upper class women had been valuable commodities since Roman times, links between fortunes and power. But there is another aspect: Rules for wealthy young ladies were designed as much for the protection of the "established" woman as for the "family asset", the young lady as property. The attractive young lady, of good looks and money, must be a piece of look-but-don't-touch for all married men in the circle and she must not try to acquire an approved suitor when he has already been allotted to one of her peers. And she must not engage herself with an unapproved suitor, giving bad ideas to the other young ladies. She must not disturb the queen's court. pres The fat is in the fire, the die is cast, the jig is up, the goose is cooked, the cat is out of the bag, and my hour has struck.
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 01:44 PM Regarding her death as punishment...it might make sense to reconsider the regrets of Winterbourne...on top of my feelings that her death is part of the tradition of tragedy in literature...more tragic is Winterbournes own realization. I find it difficult to imagine confusing punishment with tragedy after reading the following:(regardless of ones compassion for the upper middle class's paranoia and restrictions on their "property") Winterbourne almost immediately left Rome; but the following summer he again met his aunt, Mrs. Costello at Vevey. Mrs. Costello was fond of Vevey. In the interval Winterbourne had often thought of Daisy Miller and her mystifying manners. One day he spoke of her to his aunt--said it was on his conscience that he had done her injustice. "I am sure I don't know," said Mrs. Costello. "How did your injustice affect her?" "She sent me a message before her death which I didn't understand at the time; but I have understood it since. She would have appreciated one's esteem." "Is that a modest way," asked Mrs. Costello, "of saying that she would have reciprocated one's affection?" Winterbourne offered no answer to this question; but he presently said, "You were right in that remark that you made last summer. I was booked to make a mistake. I have lived too long in foreign parts."
From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, September 11, 2003 11:37 AM Girl by Jamaica Kincaid Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don't walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little clothes right after you take them off; when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn't have gum on it, because that way it won't hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it; is it true that you sing benna in Sunday School?; always eat your food in such a way that it won't turn someone else's stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming; don't sing benna in Sunday School; you mustn't speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions; don't eat fruits on the street, flies will follow you; but I don't sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday School; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your fathers khaki shirt so that it doesn't have a crease; this is how you iron your fathers khaki pants so that they don't have a crease; this is how you grow okra far from the house, because okra trees harbor red ants; when you are growing dasheen, make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don't like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don't like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don't know you very well, and this way they won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don't squat down to play marbles, you are not a boy, you know; don't pick people's flowers you might catch something; don't throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don't like, and that way something bad won't fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man, and if this doesn't work there are other ways, and if they don't work don't feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn't fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it's fresh; but what if the baker won't let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won't let near the bread? --Jamaica Kincaid
From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Thursday, September 11, 2003 08:56 PM Candy, that's precious..Thanks for sharing it. Ernie, Your post #41 was fascinating. I think too, the fact that the society Daisy had found herself in felt a bit threatened, since they were all rather new money, all Americans. I think they were trying their darnest to live by the old money, European ways of high society. They were the adopted members of high society trying to perfectly blend in with those who were born into it, and Daisy's American behavior was like a mirror, reflecting their true roots. I think she made them uncomfortable, because deep down they knew they were basically shams. Beej

 

 
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