Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Sep 29, 2011

The Inevitable Death of Daisy Miller, Her Beauty, Stupidity, and Recklessness

Filed under: Reading — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:33 am

I read this book sometime in summer — Daisy Miller: A Study by Henry James. On the surface, the book seems to present a contrast between the sophisticated European culture and the innocent, uncultured, and natural American one represented by Daisy Miller. The innocent one seems to be victimized by being misunderstood, ridiculed and rejected by her compatriots, the European-Americans.

On another level, it appears like another story in which an innocent girl was ruined by a man, like Tess in Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. However, my reading of the book reveals a different message. Rather than blaming others, I see Daisy Miller has all the ingredients to qualify her for her early death.

She is dangerously careless and heedless, always acting on impulse, and most unwisely rebellious and impudent. On top of it all, she does not have the mental capacity to distinguish between the real gentleman and the fake one.

Hence, against the warning of some good-will friends, she followed a handsome Italian, a phony gentleman, to a place plagued by Roman fever late at night. As it is fully expected, this typical I-do-what-I-want girl contracted this fever and met her death soon after that.

The book, out around 1878, is still relevant today in light of the fatal consequence of these qualities possessed by Daisy Miller.

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