Realism Features In The Novel Daisy Miller
A Study is a totally functioning and traditionally correct statement outlining nineteenth-century social hierarchies. James’s Daisy Miller is a piece on his society and also the international expertise of each Europeanized Americans and non-Europeanized Americans living overseas. While dealing with elements of interpretation and one’s response, it also focuses on societal customs associated with gender roles. By titling novella as Daisy Miller: A Study, James assigns the text the task of accurately depicting and presumably analyzing the nineteenth-century means of life on a sociological level. Daisy Miller, who is pretty typical of Henry James’s American in Europe, is little more than a western hero with a parasol and bank account. Not that she was modelled with the West in mind. Far from that! Nonetheless, James, trying to portray the subtleties that distinguish the American upper-class girl from her European counterparts, gave Daisy the very personality traits that we have for some time now recognized as those of the western hero. Daisy Miller oscillates between masculine and female identifications, she conjointly oscillates between American and alien, savage and national, and a natural leader. Set in Rome, ‘Daisy Miller’ chronicles the behaviour of Americans abroad. But it also depicts a displaced landscape of North American immigration and the anxiety about the American girl’s intimacy with a handsome Italian. Through this James also contributed indirectly to changing conceptions of education in the US by emphasizing both the role of the evolving body in the educational process and the volatile character of the adolescent experience. ‘Daisy Miller’ is, of course, better remembered for its contribution to the controversy surrounding the cultural practice of flirtation in a modern urban environment.
This is an American text, at this time Gender questions started raising in the late nineteenth century. Henry James is a major contributor to American literature, America was a consumerist society. However, Europe had imperialism and capitalism growing up. Daisy had been described as an ‘American Flirt’ by herself and by society. She was already judged even before one knowing her. As the author himself call her flirt a lot many times, her carefree attitude and her friendly nature made Winterbourne think she was a flirt as the writer says, – “He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt—a pretty American flirt.” When she speaks herself out Winterbourne thinks she was not ashamed of that, the act of speaking openly to men was not socially acceptable. This is clarified when he speaks- ‘She is not ashamed, she likes the company of men, this was new something different, she talks of her desires openly.’ Something that creates a big problem in Winterbourne’s eyes is Daisy herself claiming she liked being in men’s company. The lines that reflect his response are: “Was she simply a pretty girl from New York State? Were they all like that, the pretty girls who had a good deal of gentlemen’s society?’ ‘He had known, here in Europe, two or three women—persons older than Miss Daisy ….who were great quettes- dangerous, terrible women, with who one’s relations were liable to take a serious turn. But this young girl was not a coquette in that sense; she was much unsophisticated; she was only a pretty American flirt.” Even though Winterbourne himself had affair with married women and that didn’t look like a problem to anyone but Daisy talking frankly with men was a great problem. Winterbourne likes Daisy but she represents threatening sexuality according to him and because of this, he doesn’t want to be committed to her.
Daisy was very much sure that if no one will believe her then also Winterbourne would. She was very much attached to him, but his way of looking at her was very much similar to others. Mrs. Walker also judged her like Mrs. Costello and the only reason why she is attracted to Giovanelli was he never judged her or stopped her from fulfilling her wishes she says- ‘Mr. Giovanelli, at least,’ she said, giving her interlocutor a single glance, ‘never says such very disagreeable things to me.’
Daisy an outspoken girl, she says whatever she thinks is right, ‘I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate to me, or to interfere with anything I do.’ ‘I’m a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not? But I suppose you will tell me now that I am not a nice girl.’
Daisy’s death was an outcome of her being at Colosseum by catching Roman fever; she was hurt by the injustice done by Winterbourne as he also started disbelieving her in the end, when they talk- ‘Since you have mentioned it,’ she said, ‘I am engaged.’ Winterbourne looked at her; he had stopped laughing. ‘You don’t believe!’ she added. He was silent a moment; and then, ‘Yes, I believe it,’ he said.’Oh, no, you don’t!’ she answered. ‘Well, then—I am not!’ She believed so much in him, that she was broken when she heard this, she was loyal always but Winterbourne never believed that. When he got to know the last message given by Daisy for him he was struck and was in grief, the message said- ‘She told me to tell you that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian …’ Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne.”
It would be incorrect if we only say Daisy was killed by “injustice” from Winterbourne. Yes, she was very much confident that Winterbourne would never misjudge her even though everyone else did. Her death came as a result of her careless attitude; she shouldn’t have gone to the colosseum. She invited her death; a man not trusting her shouldn’t be a reason for giving her such pain. Her love and loyalty brings death to her, after all this Winterbourne was not in much grief but he thought himself to be a reason for her death and then moved on in his life. ‘One day he spoke of her to his aunt—said it was on his conscience that he had done her injustice … ‘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.’
Tess and Daisy Miller both were bounded to death; it was predetermined as they were not following the societal norms. Tess and Daisy were similar in the way that they talked of their desires, the only difference was that Daisy openly did that and Tess did silently. Winterbourne’s “injustice” and her fate killed her in the end.
- Novella- Daisy Miller: A Study
- Daisy Miller, Tradition and European Heroine
- Daisy Miller: Western Heroine
- Daisy Miller: A Study of changing intentions
- Reassembling Daisy Miller
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A Study is a totally functioning and traditionally correct statement outlining nineteenth-century social hierarchies. James’s Daisy Miller is a piece on his society and also the international expertise of each […]