DAISY MILLER: A STUDY
The Millers were a common family, but had money because their father was an industrialist. They lived in Schenectady, NY. Ugly Americans is a term that Europeans use about American tourists. These are the people that go to France and immediately look for a Burger King and who speak English loudly and slowly so that people will understand. Foriegners claim these people are Americans who do not know how to act. The Millers were not very good with money. They do not understand how American aristiocracy acts or how European culture is. They went abroad just because everyone who is rich does it. Old money strives to be European because true culture is from Europe.
We find the Millers in two places - Geneva and Rome. Geneva is associated with Calvinism and Rome is associated with Catholicism. They are out of place in both places, as they belong in Schenectady.
Daisy is interesting and outrageous because she is considered a flirt. Daisy gets such extreme punishment because she is a flirt.This is why Henry James has to kill her in the novel. According to European customs and cultures, it is morally wrong for a singly woman to be flirtatious. Daisy did not realize she was flirting because she did not know the rules. When the Europeans tell her the rules, Daisy still disobeys them.
Winterbourne sees all the married women before he sees Daisy. He gets very nervous about talking to her. He is pleasantly surprised because she talked to him. Daisy became less attractive to him when Winterbourne discovered her flirtatious attitude. Winterbourne sleeps around and "studies hard." He is interested in a foreign woman who is low class and who is also readily available for sex. This is the old issue of the double standard because it is acceptable for him to act in this manner, but it is unacceptable for Daisy to do the same.
American expatriot culture negatively reacts to Daisy and her family because they give Americans a bad name. The brother talks about the family's money. The much wiser rich people never talk about money. The Millers flaunt their money and do not know how to dress or act. The old ladies get together and decide that they can not have this. It is terrible because the Millers are giving them a bad name.
Eventually Daisy goes to Rome. There she meets Giovanelli, an Italian lawyer who is not in the "first circle". He is evidently very charming, and the Millerís do not realize that he is not in the proper circle. He sounds good so they take him at face value.
Daisy is a fifteen year old girl who
gets in a lot of trouble because no one looks out for her. Her mom is supposed
to make sure she does not go astray, but she stays in her room and says
she feels bad and lets the kids fend for themselves. Eventually, when she
goes astray for the last time, Daisy catches malaria and dies. The family
thought it was from "bad air," but malaria actually comes from mosquitoes.