Daisy Miller By Henry James Essay, Research Paper
by Henry James
Brief Biography of Henry James
Henry James was born in New York in 1843. His parents were Henry James Sr. and Mary James. Henry James had three brothers and one sister. Henry James? ancestor, William James, was an 18 year old Irishman who arrived in America in 1789. According to family legend, the ancestor arrived with a very small sum of money and later gained a small fortune through the establishment of a store in New York. Later, he ventured into banking and the manufacture of salt which paved his way as a powerful man in the upper Hudson area. Jamesville, New York and two streets in Albany and Syracuse were named after this legendary ancestor ( Henry James).
As a young child, Henry James had only private tutors and never gained any strict education. The year Henry James turned twelve years old his family moved to Switzerland and later to France and Germany. After the completion of his family?s travels, Henry James returned to America and enrolled in Harvard law school for a while. He withdrew soon after his enrollment because he desired to pursue writing rather than an education. His father?s leisurely lifestyle as a traveler and writer allowed Henry James to meet people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott. His youthful years in Europe left a great impression. Later in his life, James moved to England where he established citizenship as a protest against America?s failure to enter the war against Germany. Henry James died on February 28, 1916 ( “Henry James”).
Some scholars criticize James works because of its slow development and deliberate withholding of information. These two characteristics are a result of his leisurely and refined lifestyle. Therefore, James purposely developed his novels with a conscientious slowness and refinement. James was interested in the society of people who possessed subtle ideas and interests much like himself and his father. The people in this society had enough money to develop their ideas and refinements. Also, Henry James was the first writer to introduce the theme of an American in Europe( Henry James).
Characters in Daisy Miller
A young, exceptionally pretty, young lady from the United States who shocks the more formalized European society by her spontaneous acts.
Daisy?s mother, who seems to sanction most of Daisy?s erratic actions.
The narrator of the story and a huge fan of Daisy?s.
Winterbourne?s aunt, who acts as his confidante. She thoroughly disapproves of Daisy.
A mutual friend of Winterbourne and Daisy. She later severs her relationship with Daisy.
An Italian hottie whom Daisy picks up in Rome.
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Daisy Miller, you have caught my eye.
Good, let’s go somewhere unchaperoned.
Now I will be flirtatious with someone else.
But I’m obsessed with you. Go home and take some medicine.
No, I don’t care if I die. (dies)
Those wacky Americans. I’ll never understand them.
Basically, all of James? novels have the same theme, American vs. European. I found many other themes. Innocence vs. Knowledge; Utility vs. Form and ceremony; Spontaneity vs. Ritual; Chaos vs. Order.
Point of View
The story is told through Winterbourne?s eyes. It?s 1st person. I wanted it to be more complicated, but it is not.
Foreshadowing is used throughout the book. For example, everyone keeps telling Daisy to take her medicine or she will get sick. Daisy doesn?t take her medicine?
This story is trite. It is a simple read but not worth it. I found the characters were poorly developed and the story was just plain stupid. I do not recommend this book.
“She?s completely uncultivated,” Winterbourne went on. “But she is wonderfully pretty, and, in short, she is nice. To prove that I believe it, I am going to take her to the Ch?teau de Chillon.” Winterbourne to his Aunt after 1st meeting Daisy (James 21).
“What has she been doing?”
“Everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up; sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all the evening with the same partners; receiving visits at eleven o?clock at night. Her mother goes away when visitors come.” Mrs. Costello (Winterbourne?s Aunt) to Winterbourne (James 57).
Daisy gave a violent laugh. “I never heard anything so stiff! If this is improper, Mrs. Walker,” she pursued, “then I am all improper, and you must give up on me. Good-bye; I hope you have a lovely ride!” and, with Mr. Giovanelli, who made a triumphantly obsequious salute, she turned away. Daisy to Mrs. Walker after refusing a ride home (James 56).
This book is a classic because it has a universal theme. A theme that stands the test of time. Personally, I didn?t find it very meaningful but, in its time, Daisy Miller, was very controversial.
“Henry James” The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. CD ROM; Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1999
James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York. Tom Doherty Ass., 1988