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Analysis Of Daisy Miller By Henry James English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 791 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the story Daisy Miller, written by Henry James, James tells a story about a young American lady named Daisy Miller and her family members who are vacationing in Europe. Daisy is vacationing in a new world and is trying to find a way to learn and adapt to her new surroundings. She is trying to fit in with the high class society but due to her lifestyles differences she is not accepted in their world. Based on the story one would assume that the cause of Daisy’s death is consequential; however, there are several given points that suggest it was purely by coincidence and could have happen to anyone. Henry James proves this by the use of characters, setting, and symbolism.

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The other main character focused is Winterbourne is a “27-year old expatriate American bachelor” (Collins 1). Winterbourne was raised and received most of his education in Geneva, he is considered to be fairly quiet but highly educated, he understands the European lifestyles but keeps his own opinion. “Winterbourne has lost the capacity for love and he has lost the opportunity to come to life.” (Ohmann 3). Daisy is turned off by him because she views him as a person that doesn’t enjoy life. She feels like he would rather study and be serious then actually live his life. Winterbourne has an instant attraction to her innocence and beauty. However, Daisy sees him as being “stiff and lifeless” (Wardley 4). The chemistry between Winterbourne and Daisy is apparent but because of her flirtatious attitude he feels like it’s just a game to her. Although he is an American, he has the European attitude and shows his self to Daisy. This shows the two worlds that collided; Daisy the American and Winterbourne the European.

The setting for the story takes place in Europe. The country is known for its well educated citizens, taste for fine art and respect for social societies. Daisy wants to “experience in Europe” (Deakin 5). She is amazed at the lifestyles of the high class society and is taken away by the historical buildings and the people. It makes her feel like she is important because she is able to experience such a once in a lifetime opportunity. The culture is “primitive and refined in a developed taste” (Scheiber 3). The atmosphere in Europe is cool and calm. Only the fanciest and most expensive are for the European society. Many of the people in Europe have parties where people are to dress up in some of their finest clothes and come to gather. At these parties, many just stand around talking among each other while they listen to music and have a few drinks. Many of the people who attend this parties are considered to be high class or rich folks. Daisy attends many of this parties but is often rude because she either leaves early to wander the streets with other gentleman or she spends all her time talking to people who are not considered to be fairly important.

There are many symbols that describe the innocent nature of Daisy. One symbol is when Daisy and Winterbourne first meet in the Hotel garden. As they are talking, the sun is beaming down on her head. The sunlight beaming on her symbolizes Daisy as a pure innocent young woman. When Daisy and Winterbourne meet, as she is standing alone wearing a vivid white dress. Her dress and hat symbolize how pure Daisy really is. She doesn’t realize her failure to rescue him, “Her ejection from Eden” (Childress 2). This foreshadows a loss of purity and innocence. The way people view her is impure and innocent because she has intimate gentleman friends. Although all she is doing is talking to them, still many of the Europeans view her as acting in a scandalous way. This led the Europeans to believe that caused her death was consequential because she was out in the streets with so many men. They presumed that Daisy was completely responsible for her own death because she was acting so reckless. Europeans thought that if Daisy would have acted with class and shown more respect for herself and others she would have never been out so late in the evenings. On the other hand, Daisy’s death was considered to others as being a coincident that could have happen to anyone. There were several different illnesses spreading throughout Europe. There were no given facts that because Daisy was out so late that was the cause of her death.

After Daisy becomes ill, Winterbourne begins to realize how pure she actually is. He begins to feel sorry for the way he and others viewed and judged her. The sad fact is that like many of the Europeans who judged Daisy, we all tend to look at others based on their actions and the way we portray them.


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