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Culture Clashes in Daisy Miller Essay

Throughout the world people have differing ideas on what is good and bad based on whatever culture one visits one is sure to find major differences. In the period that this story takes place the US is trying to find its own identity and establish their own traditions. In the Europeans perspectives the Americans were deviant people because their culture was out of the norm. Winterbourne is stunned and intrigued immediately once he meets Daisy. He growing up with a more European lifestyle finds Daisy’s flirtatious and outgoing attitude very abnormal yet refreshing.

Many of the older women in society, especially his mother, find her to be cheap and very unlady like due to her lack of classy behavior compared their idea of a proper high society woman should behave like. The book Daisy Miller, illustrates the American lifestyle, compared to the proper etiquette of European social standards. The novel Daisy Miller is the story of a girl who is on vacation with her mother and little brother. Along the way she meets Winterbourne and whom he immediately notices that she is different than other girls he has met in the past.

She gives off an aura of wanting to become independent and a free spirit. Which all of the other women look down upon because they find it very trashy and very improper, especially for someone of such a high status also. Daisy’s family is of high society and normally girls like Daisy are quiet and respectful, never is it heard of to approach a man to which she is not acquainted with. Therefore, the idea that Daisy is flirtatious and so headstrong and direct with Winterbourne is just shocking to everyone who hears of her.

She makes a great impact on those around her and unfortunately most do not like her because she is different and American. Henry James was born in New York on April 15, 1843 and died February 28, 1916 of edema following a series of strokes in London( “Henry James” par 1). He was the son of Henry, a minister, and Mary (“Henry James” par 1). He immigrated to England in 1910 and was naturalized in 1915(“Henry James” par 1). Since he was born in the US he had a similar outlook on perhaps what he wrote about. He moved to London for the latter part of his life, which caused him to see the extreme difference in the European perspective.

This is what the novel Daisy Miller is all about. The differences and the controversy that occurs when two different cultures clash together. James had a very successful career that always involved writing. He was a well-known literary critic and novelist. He was a writer for Nation and art critic for The Atlantic in 1866-1869(“ Henry James par 2). He was a writer for the New York Tribune while living in Paris for a year. Surprisingly though he was also a volunteer among the displaced and wounded during World War I (“ Henry James par 2).

He received many prestigious awards throughout his life including the Order of Merit in 1915 and he was commemorated with the James memorial stone (“ Henry James par 4). Henry James lived from 1843 to 1916, which is around the same time that he set the period in the novel Daisy Miller. James lived the majority of his life in the US and was raised with the American culture. For the latter years of his life he moved to London were most people were still living in an old-fashioned setting as opposed to Americans who were exploring and expanding from the European way.

James having experienced life in both areas causes him to not give quite a clear suggestion on which culture he prefers, “ In late Victorian eyes, Daisy was likely to be either wholly innocent or guilty; James, either all for her or against her”( Ohmann par 1). Due to this the reader is never told which culture James ends up supporting, “ James began writing with one attitude towards his heroine and concluded with a second and different attitude toward her(Ohmann par 1). In the novel Daisy is often regarded as an outsider or an unwelcome intruder in society.

Her outgoing and free spirit causes people, specifically Europeans, to look down on her because her behavior does not conform with the norms of that particular society. She stands out but at the same time she does not really care that people are talking about her and looking down on her with distaste. She puts it in the back of her mind and just tells her self that she will do whatever she wants and she will not let anybody tell her that she is not able to. She does not let the fact that she is a woman restrain her from achieving what she wants.

Yet at the same time she maintains her dignity and pride while still acting like a woman to a certain extent. She balances the fine line through the book of the quiet proper woman and the wild American. She maintains the free spirit of an American girl, but traditionally she is still a woman who has escorts and fine extravagant dinner parties for young high society people. She revolutionizes the idea that it would be alright to loosen up on occasion, “ her conduct is without blemish, according to the rural American standard, and she knows no other”(Howells par 2).

However in the perspective of other people they regard her as a nuisance and someone who is a threat to society because she could soil and corrupt the minds of their young daughters: “ Daisy exemplifies those young girls who have fine social gifts to be sure but whose cleverness is too much for them and if allowed any influence their folly runs away with them, like horses with the bits between their teeth”(Montiero par 4). She stands out and people around her do not appreciate her trying to be different because they do not want to accept change or different cultures.

They are all used to the regular routine and tradition that the generations before them have set up and carried out for hundreds of years before them. They expected to continue with tradition for hundreds until they saw things were changing and were scared to approach it so they tried to shut it out. The novel Daisy Miller represents a major problem that is still controversial to this day. Still in the world cultures clash and people are sometimes offended at others. However no one can be blamed because its all about the society’s norms and values.

Every society is different and what may be important not one may not necessarily be as important to some one else. Many cultures differ but fortunately they find a common ground to agree upon on the basic rules of society. They may not agree completely but they are willing to acknowledge that its true. Works cited Deakin, Motley F. “Daisy Miller, Tradition, and the European Heroine. ” Comparative Literature Studies. 6. 1(Mar. 1969): 45-59 Rpt. in Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale. Farragut High School. 26 oct. 2009 < http://go. galegroup. com> “Henry James. ” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Literature Resource Center. Gale. Farragut High. 22 Oct. 2009 < http://go. galegroup. com > Howells, William Dean. “ Defense of Daisy Miller. ” Discovery of a Genius: William Dean Howells and Henry James. Ed. Albert Mordell Twayne Publishers, 1961. 88-91. Rpt in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Vol. 8. Detroit: gale Research, 1991. 88-91. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Farragut High School. 26 Oct. 2009 James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books,1995. Monteiro, George. “What’s in a Name? James’ Daisy Miller. ” American Literary Realism. 39. 3 (Spring 2007): p. 252. Literature Resource Center. Gale.

Farragut High School. 25 Oct. 2009 < http:// go. galegroup. com> Ohmann, Carol. “ Daisy Miller: A study of Changing Intentions. ” American Literature. 36. 1 (Mar. 1964):1-11 Rpt in Short Story Criticism. Ed. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 32. Detroit: gale Group, 1999. 1-11. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Farragut High School. 22 Oct. 2009 < http://go. galegroup. com > Wardley,Lynn. “Reassembling Daisy Miller. ” American Literary History. 3. 2(Summer 1991):232-254. Rpt in Short Story Criticism. Ed Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 32. Detroit: Gale Group,1999. 232-254. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Farragut High School. 23 Oct. 2009


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