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Daisy Miller: Is She Ahead Of Her Time?

Essay by 24  •  June 26, 2011  •  640 Words (3 Pages)  •  621 Views

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The clash of American innocence and European tradition is prevalent through Henry James’ Daisy Miller. The uncharacteristic behavior of Daisy originally began as harmless fun. However, the power of her flirtation and involvement with Roman gentlemen spiraled out of control for her. Her views were modern not innocent. She saw nothing wrong with being out late at night with gentleman not because she didn’t know better but simply because she felt other people were to “stiff” to realize that there is nothing wrong with enjoying the company and friendship of a gentleman wherever and whenever. She is doing what young teenage women do best, breaking the rules and not conforming. American meant nothing except maybe she wasn't as in tuned to the European ways as a female born and raised within the environment would be. She seemed fun, interested in the land she was immersed in and simultaneously bored with what she had at the present. She felt she was missing out 'back home' where traditional activities differed for a girl her age on a new continent. Becoming more isolated from those who care about her, a poor decision to go out in the middle of the night ultimately cost her life. It’s interesting that a “nice girl” may be a flirt in the United States, but in European standards in the late 19th century, it isn’t socially acceptable. Flirtation, love, and attraction are strong, normal emotions, but perhaps James is portraying woman's rebelliousness in expressing oneself to too high of a degree. It was said, "American flirting is purely American silliness." Unfortunately, Daisy was put out of her element and her life was cut short. They do not fit in with the expected norms, yet they attract the attention of men. It is because of this fact that they are first admired and then admonished. The novel, instead of portraying Daisy as a naÐ"Їve girl, tends to have a negative feel to it. Her naivety in regarding to society’s expectations for her that leads her to her death. Her major crime, rather, seems to be that she expresses her own will and desires - and, worse, those desires do not center around being selected by a man in the 'usual' fashion and marrying him. I would argue

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