Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller Summary and Analysis of Chapter 4

Winterbourne asked for Mrs. Miller at her hotel with some chagrin but convinced himself that no servants were giggling at him. Mrs. Miller and her daughter were not in however, that day or the next. The following day was Mrs. Walker's party and Mrs. Walker still included Winterbourne on her invite list. She was most concerned with the appearance of her gathering and her study of the European society. Mrs. Miller arrived alone at the party only minutes after Winterbourne. She commented how afraid she was being at a party alone but Daisy had pushed her ahead. Daisy and Giovanelli remained at the hotel at the piano and did not seem to be in a hurry. Mrs. Walker turned snidely to Winterbourne, noting that Daisy would make a spectacle and that she would not speak to the girl. It was after eleven when Daisy arrived with Giovanelli. Daisy rushed forward into the room so that everyone turned to stare at her and hurried straight to Mrs. Walker. She excitedly explained that she and Giovanelli had been practicing at the piano so that he would be able to sing at the party. When she asked Mrs. Walker if there was anyone she knew, Mrs. Walker cruelly replied that everyone knew her.

During Giovanelli's singing, Daisy loudly told Winterbourne that she wished there was room to dance but he replied that he did not dance. Daisy quipped that she would not want to dance with such a stiff man as he. She asked about his ride with Mrs. Walker to which he replied that he would have preferred to continue walking with Daisy. Daisy commented on Mrs. Walker's coldness that day, pretending that it was more proper to get in the carriage and leave Giovanelli than to stay in his company. Winterbourne retorted that Giovanelli should have known better than to walk with a young lady on the streets to which Daisy replied that they were in a garden not the streets and thankfully she was not of his country because the Italian women seemed to have no fun. She refused to change her habits for anyone. When Winterbourne called Daisy a flirt, she laughed and agreed, confirming that all nice girls were flirts. Winterbourne wanted her to flirt only with himself but she declared that she did not want to flirt with such a stiff man. Winterbourne tried to explain that to the Italians, flirting was taken more seriously. Daisy retorted that she and Giovanelli were too close to flirt. Winterbourne intimated that it was another story if they were in love with each other to which Daisy blushed and told him that Mr. Giovanelli was much more respectful. Winterbourne was surprised since she had not minded his frankness until this point. Daisy spent the rest of the evening with Giovanelli tucked in a corner. Giovanelli had approached after finishing at the piano and asked if she would like tea. She accepted, responding that Winterbourne never offered her tea and left.

Upon Daisy's departure, Mrs. Walker got her chance to turn her back. She blatantly ignored Mrs. Miller as she cordially attempted to thank the woman for the evening. Daisy was deeply offended by the affront to her mother. Mrs. Walker told Winterbourne that she would never allow Daisy in her home again. Because of this, Winterbourne went frequently to the Miller's hotel. When he actually found them at home, Giovanelli was always present, usually alone with Daisy. Winterbourne came to expect that Daisy would react indifferently, never upset that her intimacy with Giovanelli was being broken. He began to think that she was a girl who could not be jealous and may become a shallow person. Yet she did seem to like Giovanelli considerably. When he saw the couple at St. Peter's, he pointed them out to his aunt. She replied that they must be the reason why Winterbourne was so pensive lately. She ridiculed the couple for having a seemingly secret affair in public and noted that the courier probably introduced them and would do well if they married. Winterbourne did not think her intentions were to marry and noted that Giovanelli likely thought it an impossible dream as he had no title to offer Daisy. A number of Mrs. Costello's friends gathered during the vesper-service and gossiped that Daisy had gone too far. Winterbourne was displeased but had to agree on many levels. He felt sorry for such innocence being reduced to vulgarity and hoped to warn Mrs. Miller.

One day he met a friend in the Corso who had just left the Dorio Palace gallery and told him that he saw the pretty American girl. She was accompanied by an Italian with "a bouquet in his buttonhole" leading the friend to question Winterbourne's claim as to her character. Winterbourne rushed off to see Mrs. Miller who told him that Daisy was out with Giovanelli. Mrs. Miller had told Daisy that she was engaged but Daisy denied it so Mrs. Miller had asked Giovanelli to let her know if it happened. Her ignorance so stunned Winterbourne that he left without warning her. He did not see Daisy much after that because she was never at home or invited to the homes of their mutual friends. The Americans hoped to show the Europeans that Daisy's behavior was not representative. Winterbourne wondered whether Daisy's behavior was from her upbringing or innocence and whether maintaining her innocence was simply being gallant on his part. He saw Daisy a few days later at the Palace of the Caesars. She remarked to Winterbourne that he must be lonely always wandering by himself. Winterbourne responded that he was not as lucky as Giovanelli to which Daisy replied that he meant that she was too much with Giovanelli. Winterbourne alerted her to the feelings of most of his compatriots and Daisy slowly realized that she had been treated coldly lately, such as during the departure from the party. She criticized Winterbourne for not doing more to stop the coldness. He told her how her mother said she and Giovanelli were engaged. To upset Winterbourne, she confirmed the rumor. When he believed her, she denied the engagement. He was perplexed as Giovanelli returned from finding a flower for his buttonhole. Winterbourne soon left them.

A week later, Winterbourne visited a villa for dinner and then walked home in the evening. He strolled inside of the Colosseum, quoting Byron, until he remembered how dangerous his location could be at night because of the fever. As he reached the center cross, he noticed two people sitting at its base. When the woman's voice reached his ears, he realized the couple was Daisy and Giovanelli. Winterbourne now knew that Daisy did not deserve his respect. He did not realize that he could be seen much easier by the couple than he could see them and turned to walk away. Daisy's voice came again, astonished that Winterbourne was ignoring her. Annoyed that she feigned innocence so well, Winterbourne approached the cross. The stupidity of a young woman sitting in a potential pool of Roman fever struck Winterbourne and he criticized Daisy. Giovanelli claimed that he was not worried for himself and Winterbourne retorted that as a native Roman he should have been worried for Daisy. Giovanelli said that he could never persuade Daisy. Daisy said she never became sick and if there was a problem, Eugenio could give her pills. Prompted by Winterbourne, Giovanelli ran for his carriage. Daisy remarked that at least she had seen the Colosseum at night. Winterbourne laughed. When she asked about the other day, Winterbourne said that it did not matter whether he thought she was engaged or not. Giovanelli rushed Daisy into the carriage. Before pulling away, Daisy cried to Winterbourne that she did not care if she got Roman fever or not.

Winterbourne did not tell anyone that he had seen Daisy that night but the American circle heard regardless. Winterbourne soon heard that Daisy was seriously ill with the fever. He visited regularly, once seeing Mrs. Miller who surprisingly was a composed and efficient nurse. She told Winterbourne how Daisy asked her mother three times to tell him that she was not engaged. Mrs. Miller was pleased at the news since Giovanelli had not bothered to visit during Daisy's illness. According to Mrs. Miller, Daisy also wanted to ask Winterbourne if he remembered the trip to Chillon but Mrs. Miller did not wish to give such messages.

A week later, Daisy died. Winterbourne stood at her grave with many more visitors than expected. Giovanelli told Winterbourne that Daisy was the most innocent. Winterbourne was surprised and then hurt, demanding of him why he took her to the fatal night spot. Again, Giovanelli meekly said he had not feared for himself and Daisy had wanted it. Giovanelli told Winterbourne that Daisy would never have married him. Winterbourne left Rome soon after Daisy's death but visited his aunt in Vevey again the next summer. Winterbourne mentioned to Mrs. Costello that he had done Daisy an injustice. He had understood in the year that passed that Daisy "would have appreciated one's esteem." He had been out of America for too long. Nonetheless, he returned to live in Geneva, where the rumors continued to circulate about him "studying."

Chapter Four Analysis:

Chapter Four explores Daisy's final decline from respect to death, as she becomes overly incautious and indiscreet. James consistently utilizes types, as metonyms, to investigate these issues. By generalizing and categorizing the characters, the more universal themes of nature versus urbanity and outward action versus inward meditation become clearer. Mrs. Miller and Daisy represent quite a different type than Mrs. Walker to whom they are compared in the opening of the chapter. When Winterbourne visits the Miller's hotel room, the two women are often not at home. This is then contrasted with Mrs. Walker who is not only at home but having a party to which she can invite her social circle and beyond. James refers to the Miller women as "this lady and her daughter" and then to Mrs. Walker as "one of those American ladies...while residing abroad," illustrating their function as types. Her top priority is to showcase her lifestyle to gain the greater approval of her peers. She focuses on appearance and formal decorum upon which to base her life as is witnessed in the following quotation from the text: "...in spite of the frigidity of his last interview with the hostess, Winterbourne was among the guests. Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad, make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society; and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her diversely born fellow-mortals to serve, as it were, as textbooks." Mrs. Walker is portrayed as a cold social examiner, observing society instead of participating in it. Her party is a metaphor for the social examination which Mrs. Walker carries out inwardly at every moment.

The contrast with Daisy, who relishes living and responding to life, is greatly developed at Mrs. Walker's party. Mrs. Walker immediately judges Daisy on the characterization of her actions as given by Mrs. Miller. Once hearing that Daisy had stayed behind with Giovanelli, she comments, "I'm sorry she should come - in that way." With Mrs. Walker, her opinions are almost always qualified to fit the regulations of convention. Daisy has once again stepped outside of the regulations and Mrs. Walker, true to her character, can only respond with disdain. Mrs. Miller misses the condescending manner which Mrs. Walker uses with her. Her uncultivated type is represented by her dialect in this scene. The contractions and slang she uses shows her to be more uneducated and uncivilized in comparison to the rest of the company at the party. For instance, Mrs. Miller states, "'I ain't used to going round alone.'" Both "round" and "ain't" point to her lack of culture.

When Daisy arrives, she rushes in to speak with Mrs. Walker, who is caught off guard and responds although she had decided to ignore the girl because of Daisy's impropriety. The description of Daisy not being a "young lady to wait to be spoken to" again categorizes her as a innocent young lady. Realistic with her character, she reacts on spontaneous impulse. Daisy approaches Winterbourne without hesitation although they had left each other last on strained terms. Daisy is unsurprised that Winterbourne does not dance because she finds him to be so stiff. His manner to her is closed and formal, regardless of the passionate feelings he hold inwardly for Daisy. As the theme of outward action versus inward meditation has carried throughout the story, Winterbourne cannot release his need to hold his true feelings inside. As a result, Daisy finds it difficult to believe that Winterbourne would have rather kept walking with her instead of going in the carriage with Mrs. Walker. To Daisy, Winterbourne fits more into the type assigned for Mrs. Walker than we know him to be. Ironically, the next mention of stiff comes when Daisy and Winterbourne meet in the Palace of the Caesars and she compares his stiffness to an umbrella. This obvious sexual metaphor refers to Winterbourne's arousal at the time of his first meeting with Daisy and his evident attraction for her ever since. Even further irony can be invoked if the reader believes that Daisy, in her innocence, never actually noticed or understood Winterbourne's arousal. Either way, it is evident that Winterbourne harbors intense feelings for Daisy that he is incapable of expressing.

As Daisy and Winterbourne speak at Mrs. Walker's party, Winterbourne attempts to designate her by type to understand why she confuses him but he misses the message which results. First Winterbourne tries to compare her to a young lady of Italy to which Daisy responds that she is happy to not have to conform to their stricter idea of convention. He then tells her she is a flirt but Daisy surprises him and agrees. She says, "I'm a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not?" Daisy, in her way, is explaining to Winterbourne that her intentions are completely innocent and that she is living by the morals of American youth. She is quite aware of what she is doing and nothing lies beneath the surface. And yet Winterbourne cannot accept this and ventures that young unmarried women should not act in that manner in Italy. Daisy rightly compares this notion to old married women acting as flirts, twisting Winterbourne's words. This argumentative sparring does little but try to assign categories which Daisy defies and obscure the concern for Daisy which Winterbourne really feels. He finally offends her because he does not understand that she is only flirting. By implying that she and Giovanelli are in love, Winterbourne has expanded and distorted their relationship to a point which Daisy finds uncouth but which baffles Winterbourne. He can only reply "mentally that little American flirts were the queerest creatures in the world," again employing types.

The cynicism and condescension which describe Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Costello's manner toward Daisy and her type is well typified in a comment made by Mrs. Costello. She retorts, "'Of that young lady's, Miss Baker's, Miss Chandler's - what's her name? - Miss Miller's intrigue with that little barber's block." As Patricia Crick notes, Mrs. Costello most likely had no problem remembering Daisy's last name but was mocking her social origins by putting her in the category of last names which symbolize, like her own, industry and trade. Also, the act of not being able to recall Daisy's name demonstrates Daisy's lack of significance to Mrs. Costello and her circle. She is solely a type to the group, not an individual to be concerned about. Mrs. Costello's great hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy of her type, is described soon after this comment as she sits with her circle of haughty Americans abroad and gossips during the St. Peter's vespers service. At a moment which should be solemn if she were religious or respectful, she and her friends are self-involved and rude. Ironically, they gossip about Daisy's crude manners as they commit an uncivilized act of their own.

Daisy's innocence comes to a bad end not because she knowingly disregards convention but because she steps too far beyond rules of physical safety and caution. She is reckless not only with her morals but with her health and wellbeing. There are several subtle references to Daisy's innate innocence. Meanwhile the reader is faced with Winterbourne's interior monologues debating Daisy's character and ultimately deciding that she does not deserve his respect. Mrs. Costello comments, "[Daisy] goes from day to day, from hour to hour, as they did in the Golden Age. I can imagine nothing more vulgar." While Mrs. Costello refers to vulgarity, James alludes to innocence. Rousseau believed that natural man's innocence and purity was destroyed by the rigid rules of formalized civil society. By referring to the Golden Age, the reader is reminded of the philosophic notions of nature's ruin at the hands of civilization. Thus James is likely implying subtextually that Daisy's position in a sort of Golden Age is a state of innocence and goodness, not something to be insulted or ridiculed as Mrs. Costello is doing. This foreshadows the remark Giovanelli will make to Winterbourne at the end of the chapter, declaring that Daisy was the "most innocent" and ultimately proving to Winterbourne that he had mistaken the girl by adding too much of his own "civilized" judgment to her persona. Another important reference to Daisy's innocence comes in mentioning the Velazquez painting of Pope Innocent X. A likely reason that James chose this painting to have Winterbourne's friend comment upon directly before noting that he saw Daisy inside the gallery is to associate the name of the Pope with Daisy's character.

Daisy does go too far by being overly incautious. The contraction of Roman fever had been foreshadowed from the beginning of the third chapter yet Daisy ignores all warnings she receives. Her careless reply to Winterbourne's last warning follows, "I never was sick, and I don't mean to be!" Simply because she is innocent does not make her immortal. Her death will fit realistically in with her character. Daisy desires to live life to its fullest but is unable to realize that physical restraints may come into play. The setting in which Winterbourne finds her, at night in the Colosseum, is heavily foreshadowed by foreboding imagery and fearful symbolism. As mentioned in the last analysis, Rome is a metonym for the cold, forbidding conventional society in which most of the American circle abroad gladly participates.

Daisy's fate in this city is symbolized by her walk through a beautiful area of Rome. The text states, "The early Roman spring had filled the air with bloom and perfume, and the rugged surface of the Palatine was muffled with a tender verdure. Daisy was strolling atop one of those great mounds of ruin..." The pastoral scene is set with a tone of rebirth and vitality, employing the imagery of spring to symbolize fertility. Nouns such as "bloom", "perfume", and "verdure" expand the feeling of youth and liveliness and parallel the allusions established with Daisy's name. The tone is then contrasted with Daisy's movement across the top of a ruin. This foreshadows the state into which she will fall after the Colosseum scene.

As Winterbourne enters the Colosseum, James utilizes wonderful terminology to build suspenseful foreshadowing. Paralleling the prior scene, Winterbourne is drawn to the Colosseum because of its beauty but contrasting imagery establishes a different tone. James chooses phrases to symbolize Daisy's decline into the darkness of death such as "cavernous shadows", "deep shade", "waning moon", "dark archways", and "thick gloom." Winterbourne ultimately finds that Daisy is present when her voice travels to him from the center where she was "covered with shadow" immediately after Winterbourne notices that the Colosseum "was no better than a villainous miasma." Winterbourne too is drawn by the beauty of the location as Daisy says she is but he realizes the danger of it. Sitting in shadows, Daisy cannot see beyond her desire for the pleasures of life. She says, "I was bound to see the Colosseum by moonlight; I shouldn't have wanted to go home without that..." Yet she is condemned for her disregard of her own wellbeing. The Euro-American social circle finds out about her escapades even though Winterbourne does not tell them and Daisy soon dies. The Colosseum scene is in fact a parallel to the dark castle scene in Vevey, when Winterbourne and Daisy take the trip to the Château de Chillon. At Chillon, Daisy's flirtatious behavior is not celebrated but is not condemned either. The social atmosphere parallels Daisy's in America unlike the atmosphere in Rome. Sitting alone with a man in dark Rome in addition to her incaution result in her death.

In telling the reader of Daisy's death, James writes, "But, as Winterbourne had said, it mattered very little." This parallels the last conversation that Daisy and Winterbourne have in which Winterbourne tells Daisy that it did matter whether he thought she was engaged or not. This so upsets Daisy that she cries, "I don't care...whether I have Roman fever or not!" Her statement mirrors Winterbourne's harsh comment and points to, as many critics believe, the reason for Daisy's death beyond physical practicalities. Winterbourne's ultimate rejection of Daisy, his decision to side with the American circle in Daisy's condemnation, hits Daisy so cruelly that she no longer cares to live. He refuses to believe in Daisy's innocence and she quickly fades away. Her resiliency and natural spontaneity have died. Winterbourne does not realize his mistake until Mrs. Miller relays Daisy's message to him and Giovanelli speaks to him at the funeral. And yet, in this way, Daisy's innocence triumphs. The lasting message of the novella is Daisy's innocence and the cruelty of the society which condemned her to death.