Daisy Miller

American Illness in Daisy Miller: A Study College

Before the revelations of modern medicine, illness of any kind was a highly mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon that was accompanied by little hope for a solution to ease or eliminate the ailment. During this time when no one knew the origin of most diseases, let alone how to cure them or take preventative measures, sicknesses of varying severity carried a lot more significance than they do today due to their unexplainable nature, thereby making them a valuable literary tool in terms of allegorical and metaphorical contexts. Henry James was one of many authors of the 19th century who employed illness as a meaningful symbol juxtaposed to the overlying conflict in his writing, most notably in his acclaimed 1878 novella, Daisy Miller: A Study. This story tells of several American characters in a European setting, some expatriates and some vacationers, all with varying degrees of familiarity with and acceptance of European sociocultural norms. The conflict focuses on the clash between European and American social customs, instigated by the promiscuous behavior of the free-spirited and strong-willed Daisy Miller and her interactions with American expatriates such as Winterbourne and Mrs. Walker as she travels Europe with her...

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