Daisy Miller Essay

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Values of an American Girl Henry James issues the reader a direct challenge to determine Daisy Miller's system of values, or value system. In Chapter 1 of Daisy Miller, when Winterbourne, upon first seeing Daisy in the distance, says of her, "American girls are the best girls!" a remark instantly rebutted by Daisy's brother Randolf who says, "My sister ain't the best!" The story then proceeds to examine the idea of whether Daisy is the best or not the best of girls. James makes one thing perfectly clear at the end of the story. At Daisy's graveside, Giovanelli says unequivocally to Winterbourne that Daisy was the "most innocent" of girls; this refers to her moral innocence and purity. It is possible to ascertain is that Daisy's value system stressed moral integrity and purity that in Daisy's case sprang from moral innocence. The rest is not so easy. When going with Winterbourne to Château de Chillon, she accepts the idea of a chaperon; however, nowhere in the rest of the novella does she actually appear with a chaperon. Mrs. Costello brands her as common and on the steamer to Chillon. Winterbourne has to agree, although her charm overrides her commonness in his eyes. In Italy, she willfully goes without a chaperone when visiting all around Rome escorted by Italian men, a prime offence in English society. In conversation with Winterbourne, she points out that she has a great deal of being in company is social gatherings ("society") in America, yet among the English tourist, she causes herself to be ostracized. Daisy is unembarrassed when in public with Winterbourne or her Italian cavaliers. She has what Winterbourne thought of as a "habitual sense of freedom," and required "a little fuss of attention" from her admirers. She has enjoyed the company of many gentlemen in New York about which she easily brags but she does not intend to be more than a flirt. Daisy acts
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