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This Essay Describes James' Manipulation Of Appearances Versus Reality In His Novella, Daisy Miller.

1091 words - 4 pages

Appearances versus Reality in Daisy MillerJames' manipulation of appearances in Daisy Miller as well as other character's notions of these appearances provides us with a novella of enigmatic and fascinating characters. Daisy, the most complicated of these ambiguities, is as mysterious as she is flirtatious. James gives her a carefully constructed enigmatic quality that leaves the reader wondering what her motivations were and who she truly was. He structures the novella in such a way as to stress the insights that the supporting characters provide into Daisy's character, weather accurate or erroneous. Despite their questionable reliability, they allow James to make commentary on the idea of foreignism and Americanism as well as status and wealth within these societies.In Daisy Miller the protagonist, Daisy, rebels against convention and runs from any stereotype that could be applied to her. She seems determined to defy convention and to never be completely understood. Daisy's flat-out rejection of her time's ideas of feminine modesty and appropriateness paired with her portrayal as naive and innocent, create a character with contradictory, and thus evidently enigmatic, qualities. Daisy "flirts" with men upon every whim, repeating a cycle of infatuation with each just before she moves on to the next. Daisy, often surrounded by "half a dozen wonderful moustaches..." (80) often goes out alone in public with them, even late at night, which is considered in Europe, in her time and social class, to be highly unconventional and dangerous. Despite much shaming by local women, she pursues these men with unfailing determination and abandon.Keefner 2Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Costello both believe that Daisy is merely a flirt and are equally appalled by Daisy's escapades. Mrs. Costello noted that she believed that "[t]hey [Daisy's family] are the sort of Americans one does ones duty not- not accepting" (62). Mrs. Walker goes a step further than merely gossiping about Daisy's scandalous meetings with men by trying to stop one such episode. On this particular day Daisy was walking around a very crowded corner of Rome with both Giovanelli and Winterbourne. Mrs. Walker pleads with Daisy to get into the carriage with her but Daisy laughs her off saying "If this is improper, Mrs. Walker... than I am all improper, and you must give me up" (93)!James attempts to explain this lack of inhibition by constructing for her a simplistic vernacular and almost oblivious approach to life that would prove her innocence. Without knowledge, any faux pas are assumed inexperience, not immorality. This inexperience with more cultured society is also apparent in her vernacular. Daisy says things like "ever so" (56) that give her away as an "uncultivated person" (121). Her name, and the fact that it is her chosen, not given one, is also very significant. Miller suggests her family's humble history and Daisy, a "common flower...is also simple and unpretentious. The fact that it opens up in...

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