Daisy Miller

2) Why does Mrs. Costello (Winterbourne’s aunt) find Daisy and her family so offensive? In what ways does her opinion influence Winterbourne’s perceptions of Daisy?

daisy Miller story

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Costello represents the snobbish voice of high society, and the fact that Winterbourne takes her opinions to heart casts him in an unflattering light. Mrs. Costello is a shallow, self-important woman whose own children seem to have as little to do with her as possible, though Winterbourne seems quite willing to spend much of his time with her. He takes seriously her assessment of Daisy and her family and defends Daisy only feebly, characterizing her as “completely uncultivated” but “wonderfully pretty.” He tries to prove what a “nice” girl he thinks Daisy is by telling Mrs. Costello he plans to take her to the castle at Chillon, but Mrs. Costello finds the fact that Daisy agreed to the trip so soon after meeting him very troubling. She raises the question of whether Daisy is actually as nice as Winterbourne thinks she is. At the heart of Mrs. Costello’s suspicion is the extremely European idea that Daisy might be an adventuress—a sort of social hustler whose whole object is to trick Winterbourne into compromising her and therefore obligating him to marry her. Such women actually existed, and indeed, Winterbourne has encountered them in Europe before. However, Winterbourne suspects Daisy of this maneuver almost too easily, which calls his judgment into question.