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A Study Of The Gilded Age

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A Study of Social and Economic Aspects of the Gilded Age

Henry James and Abraham Cahan lived in the turn of the twentieth century, where social and economic corruptions were gilded by the extreme wealth of the few. This period also marked the beginning of a distinction between the European and American culture. Both authors artistically create in their stories the tragedy and drama of Americans in Europe and Europeans in America. James lived comfortably in both America and Europe, and it showed in his work "Daisy Miller: A Study" in which he creates a fairy tale land full of extravagant hotels, beautiful sceneries, sparkly blue lakes and well dressed people. Cahan was an immigrant living during the time of mass Americanization of European immigrants working in the difficult sweatshop conditions. James and Cahan were different writers inspired by different aspects of life, "Daisy Miller: A Study" presents the social outer appearances and the hypocrisy of society, while "A Sweat Shop Romance" focuses on the inner realities of the hard economic struggles that society forced immigrants into that forced them to deprived themselves of their freedom to maintain their culture, but both authors endorsed a sense of realizing one's true culture and consequences if one would lose it.

Winterbourne was struck with Daisy's outer appearances in the end he suffered a major lost. Winterbourne judge and got a sense of Daisy's personality through her looks "her complexion, her nose, her ears, her teeth" (James 1504), he is more occupied with her beauty than the person she is. Notice he was more struck by her beauty than love. Winterbourne asks himself what kind of person Daisy is, whether is innocent "or she was also designing, and audacious, and unscrupulous young person" (James 1507) James hints to the readers through those words that Winterbourne was scare of her personality, her social status and of how people will view him, if he accepts Daisy. Throughout the story Winterbourne treats his experience and his conversations with Daisy like a science experiment. He was happy to "find the formula that applied to Miss Daisy" (James 1507). He calls his excursion with Daisy a "project" (James 1508). James choice of words like "project" and "formula" tells the readers that Winterbourne sees Daisy as just another American girl who can be seen as a fascinating exhibit, something that is only worth displaying and admiring its beauty, but not worth risking everything for. He was wrapped up with figuring out why she is the way she is. He reacts more to Daisy's action on impulse "poor Winterbourne was amused, perplexed and decidedly charmed" (James 1506). Notice the order of the words "amused and "perplexed" were used before "charmed", which means at first Winterbourne was everything but charmed by Daisy. In the end after Winterbourne heard the news of Daisy's death "he stood staring at the raw protuberance among the April daisies" (James 1538). James choice's of language "raw" presents the regret Winterbourne feels. He should have appreciated Daisy for who she is, her rawness, her pure self. The word "protuberance" describes how the loss of Daisy is to Winterbourne; it swells in his heart and it shows on his face. At the end Winterbourne stood staring at the daisies; it is the first time he actually appreciates and have feeling for the flower. To James when conforming into a culture, you will lose your own culture and become distant with your own people just like Winterbourne, "he felt that he lived at Geneva so long that he had lost a good deal; he had become dishabituated to the American tone" (James 1506) James used the word "at" instead of in because Winterbourne was never a part of the European culture, he lived there but is still an American, like Henry James himself who had live in Europe most of his life. But James still considers himself an American. James shows his feelings for those who disregard their culture in order to fit in with another.

Henry uses his literature to shows the hypocrisy of society and the conformists of the European Americans social circle. James described Veney as "for the entertainment of tourists is the business of the place" (James 1501) from the beginning James hints the way American foreigners are perceived does not fit with the outer appearances of Veney. It is a place for the entertainment of the tourists but Daisy and her family, who are tourists, but they are not allowed much entertainment, for everything they did, they get criticized for. When Randolp describes his new home in Rome he says "it's all gold on the wall" (James 1520), since James was a writer during the Gilded Age, it was a way to describe the Miller family. On the outside the Miller looked like they would fit into the social circles because they are wealthy and dresses extremely well. However, their wealth gilds the fact that they are dislike by other Americans. Through this James presented the double standard a society has; society looks down upon the poor folks, but the Millers are still looked down upon because of how they earn their wealth, which is one of the reasons Mrs. Costello used to reject Daisy. It implies James own dislike for the European Americans social circle.

James displays his aversion and the hypocrisy of the European Americans social circle. He describes Mrs. Walker as "one of those American ladies who while residing abroad make it a point, in their own phase, of studying European society" (James 1528), the social circle thought they are doing what was right or courteous by "studying" the culture instead of experiencing for themselves. It's not expected that they should be like the Europeans "in their own phase". They are always at home throwing parties and committing a sin of their own by disregarding other people's freedom to entertain themselves as travelers, while Daisy and her mother are always out and "rarely at home" (James 1531) living the culture and experiencing the people of the culture. James describes Mrs. Costello as "a person of much distinction, who frequently intimated that, if she were not so dreadfully liable to sick-headaches, she would probably have left a deeper impression upon her time" (James 1509). Readers can sense sarcasm in the quote, there is not much "distinction" about Mrs. Costello because she is a conformist. And her frequent "headaches" are use as an excuse to not interact with other Americans. The judgment of Americans seems to be limited in the European Americans social circle. Giovanelli is an Italian and "he thinks ever so much of Americans" (James



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