Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller Summary and Analysis of Chapters 3

Winterbourne came to Rome toward the end of January. His aunt had arrived several weeks earlier and sent him letters as to the movements of the Millers, noting that the courier was still very intimate with the family and Daisy was rather intimate with several "third-rate Italians." Mrs. Costello asked him to bring her the novel, Paule Méré, and to arrive no later than the 23rd. Winterbourne expected to pay a visit to Miss Daisy after their acquaintance at Vevey, as he told his aunt. His aunt replied testily that men could keep whatever acquaintances they wanted. Due to Winterbourne's prodding, she further explained how she had seen Daisy alone with foreign men, bringing them to houses and parties. The mother was no where to be seen. Mrs. Costello found them vulgar but Winterbourne continued to believe that the family was simply ignorant but not bad.

Still, with the news of Daisy's gentlemen, he was slightly hurt and chose not to see her immediately. He did call upon a few other friends, one being an American woman whom he had known for years in Geneva, Mrs. Walker. Shortly after he arrived to pay his compliments, the servant announced that the Miller family had arrived to see Mrs. Walker. Randolph came straight up to Winterbourne but Daisy greeted Mrs. Walker and did not notice Winterbourne until she heard his voice. At this, she turned abruptly toward him, in disbelief. She criticized him for not coming to see her although he claimed that he had arrived just the day before. Randolph proclaimed that their rooms in Rome were much larger than Mrs. Walker's, causing Mrs. Miller embarrassment. Winterbourne thought it polite to converse with Mrs. Miller, who looked at him for the first time since she had entered the room. She and Randolph explained how they had suffered some from the dyspepsia. Mrs. Miller missed her doctor, Dr. Davis, from Schenectady. Winterbourne asked her how she enjoyed Rome to which she replied that it had not pleased her like other cities, such as Zürich. However, Daisy dearly enjoyed the society and had made many gentleman friends. After chatting for a while, Daisy, who had been talking to Mrs. Walker, turned to Winterbourne and reprimanded him for being mean and for leaving Vevey when he did. Winterbourne thought to himself that Daisy should have realized the sacrifice he made by not stopping in the intellectual centers of Florence and Bologna on his way to Rome.

Daisy next told Mrs. Walker than she would like to invite a friend to her party. Mrs. Walker said that any family friend was fine but Mrs. Miller corrected her, noting that she did not know the gentleman. Daisy told them that it was Mr. Giovanelli: an Italian, an "intimate friend", and the handsomest man in the world, besides Mr. Winterbourne. Mrs. Walker responded agreeably. Mrs. Miller then mentioned it was time for them to return to the hotel. However, Daisy replied that she was going for a walk to the Pincio. Mrs. Walker did not think it was safe for her to walk about in the late afternoon alone. Mrs. Miller agreed, noting that she should be careful not to catch the fever. Daisy kissed Mrs. Walker upon leaving and, smiling, told her not to worry as she would be with a friend, Mr. Giovanelli. Still, Mrs. Walker advised her against it and Daisy realized she was warning her to not be impudent. She found an easy way to mend this and declared she would walk to the Pincio with Winterbourne. He agreed. They saw the rest of the Millers off with Eugenio and then set off.

It was a short stretch but with all of the late afternoon traffic, it took the two a considerable time. Winterbourne noticed the attention pretty Daisy received while walking through the Roman crowd and thought her silly for thinking she could have gone alone. Daisy again reprimanded Winterbourne for not seeing her sooner and then chattered about her affairs, such as the diverse society she had met and the large number of social events. Winterbourne told Daisy that he would not help her find Giovanelli nor would he leave her once they did. Daisy misunderstood him and told him that she would not allow anyone to dictate her affairs. Winterbourne tried to express to her that Giovanelli was not the right one to listen to when they came upon him. He was a well dressed Italian man whom Winterbourne noticed right away was a very good imitation of a gentleman. Daisy however could not tell the difference and Winterbourne wondered if a nice girl would be so ignorant. Daisy made a smooth introduction between the two men and then continued walking with one on each side. Winterbourne observed how Giovanelli was disappointed by the third party but became even more gallant to overshadow this. Daisy was a mix of audacity and innocence yet did not act extremely enough to discourage Winterbourne completely.

A carriage pulled up near the three as they walked and Winterbourne noticed that Mrs. Walker sat within, beckoning to him. Winterbourne hurried over and Mrs. Walker excitedly told him how dreadful Daisy was acting. Fifty people had noticed her with the two men. Her mother was a dreadful stupid woman, she ranted, and Mrs. Walker felt she had better try to save Daisy herself. Winterbourne told her she was overreacting. Mrs. Walker wanted Daisy to drive around with her for a half hour, for the world to see she was not completely wild, and then return safely home. Winterbourne doubted Daisy would agree but Mrs. Walker tried to persuade her. Daisy paused her walk with Giovanelli because she was glad to have the chance to present him to Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker asked her a several times to enter the carriage but Daisy declined, stating that walking was much more pleasant to her. Mrs. Walker told her that it was not the custom in Rome but Daisy retorted that it should be custom because she enjoyed walking. Mrs. Walker told her to walk with her mother but Daisy laughed, commenting that her mother walked very little. She added then, more annoyed, that she was not five years old. When Mrs. Walker told her she was old enough to be talked about, Daisy did not know what she meant and then told her she did not wish to know what she meant. Finally Daisy asked Winterbourne if she should go with Mrs. Walker to save her reputation. He hesitated but answered yes. She told them to give up on her then because if this was improper, she must be all improper. She left with Giovanelli.

Mrs. Walker demanded Winterbourne get in the carriage though he thought it best to accompany Daisy. Riding together, Winterbourne bluntly told Mrs. Walker that she had not acted smartly. Mrs. Walker though explained that Daisy had gone too far in Rome, flirting with any man, receiving late visitors, and so on. Winterbourne insisted that she was simply very uncultivated and asked why Mrs. Walker had made him enter the carriage. She replied that she wanted him to stop his relations with Daisy. Winterbourne refused. He liked Daisy extremely but promised he would do nothing scandalous. In a huff, Mrs. Walker told Winterbourne to rejoin Daisy if he wanted and he exited the carriage. As he looked up, he saw Daisy and her companion on the other end of the garden, sitting together very intimately with a parasol balanced against them so that Winterbourne could not see their heads. Winterbourne walked instead toward his aunt's residence.

Chapter Three Analysis:

The first sentence in chapter three gives the reader a key insight into the change in physical and social atmosphere which has occurred. It reads, "Winterbourne, who had returned to Geneva the day after his excursion to Chillon, went to Rome towards the end of January." Here we are reminded of three distinct locations of the story: Geneva, Chillon, and Rome. Interestingly, Geneva is an important locale to remember, as we have discussed, because of the setting it provides for Winterbourne's home as a cold and highly formal arena. So the first insight that the sentence gives us is that Winterbourne has returned to this cold which he had sprung from into the warm atmosphere of Vevey. The next time he will depart from the rigidity of Geneva will be in the winter, symbolic of the continuation of formal setting as opposed to the break represented in his visit to Vevey in the summer. In this forbidding season, Winterbourne travels to Rome, a city also very much steeped in its old traditions and established culture.

As the chapter continues, we will experience Rome in a very different light from the setting of Vevey. The multitude of American tourists has gone, so that the characters are surrounded mostly by foreigners such as when Daisy and Winterbourne walk through the throngs of Roman pedestrians who stare at Daisy. She, especially, will stand out much more in the crowds in Rome than she had in Vevey where her habits brought fresh from Schenectady still held some weight. Furthermore, Chillon, the last locale mentioned in the first sentence of chapter three, was the one locale in Vevey where Daisy did seem out of place as she will in Rome. Daisy does not consider the old castle seriously enough to learn its name but views her journey there as more of a romantic adventure with Winterbourne. Yet, Winterbourne is not embarrassed about taking Daisy to this site nor does he think it unwise for her to be there with him alone. In fact, he encourages the situation. Thus, as Winterbourne told us when he first met Daisy, "In Geneva ...a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young unmarried lady except under certain rarely occurring conditions; but here, at Vevey, what conditions could be better than these?" A stark contrast is quickly created between Vevey and Geneva which is then exacerbated when the reader observes Daisy with Winterbourne at Chillon and later Daisy with Giovanelli at the Colosseum.

The main theme of James's work, concerning the incongruity between reality and appearance, becomes apparent during this chapter. The first substantial example of this incongruity results during the letter from Mrs. Costello informing her nephew of the scandalous behavior of his acquaintance, Daisy Miller. Her tone is rather sarcastic, focusing again on the intimacy of the courier with the family because she understands his intimacy as a symbol of the family's vulgarity. At the end of the letter however, she asks Winterbourne to bring her "that pretty novel of Cherbuliez's - Paule Méré." This novel is purposely chosen by James in order to illustrate Mrs. Costello's own ignorance of the situation concerning Daisy. In the novel, published in 1865, the heroine is innocent but has her reputation destroyed by the gossiping Genevan society. The hero loves her and tries to ignore the gossip but it finally ruins their relationship. The parallel to Daisy Miller is uncanny and, as stated by Patricia Crick, was definitely intended by James to be understood by the reader as irony. The reality of the character of Daisy was overlooked by Mrs. Costello who could comprehend the novel Paule Méré as being "pretty" but could not see the reality which lay beneath the text.

This idea of subtext is a metaphor for the manner in which the European-American social circle in Europe misunderstands the true character of Daisy Miller. She is innocent and uncultured and incautious but the circle sees only the surface of her character and the actions that character takes. They imagine a member of their social circle, thus someone with the experience and knowledge to understand and exaggerate the mores and codes of the European culture, acting in the way that Daisy Miller does. They do not take the time to look beneath this pretense to find that she is naturally innocent, acting on impulse instead of caution and convention. She rebels not by having a great knowledge of the rules which bind the society and consciously deciding to throw them out the window, but by being limited in her scope of experience and by refusing to change her natural ways in order to please a culture to which she does not belong. She oversteps even these bounds but not in the manner for which she will be ridiculed and rejected by her compatriots.

As we have discussed previously, James is an author who generally holds true to his characters by writing within a realism where they react how one would expect them to in all circumstances. Winterbourne is confused by Daisy's behavior most often when he is unable to understand that she is acting on spontaneous impulse rather than artifice and appearance as he does. Winterbourne, though our hero and a likable character, makes decisions widely based on propriety and social mores because he is a creature of the culture he has long been a part of. He is largely blinded to the honesty and innocence which Daisy imparts because he has trouble recognizing a manner which has become foreign to him. Thus when Daisy walks calmly along with both Giovanelli and Winterbourne in the Pincio and does not seem anxious to get rid of Winterbourne, Winterbourne is perplexed. He constantly asks himself, should she know better? Yet he does not realize that she does not know better and she will ruin herself because of it. The great theme of the disparity between reality and appearance is at its greatest strength in the relationship between Winterbourne and Daisy because of the conflict which roars inside of Winterbourne regarding the appearance he cannot overcome and the reality he cannot accept.

A lack of communication is one hindrance to a relationship without pretense between Winterbourne and Daisy. Unlike Daisy, Winterbourne often sublimates his feelings and withholds his opinions at times when it could have made their relationship more clearly understood by both. When Daisy and Winterbourne arrive at Mrs. Walker's separately both are surprised to see each other. Winterbourne had hesitated to see Daisy immediately because he had heard from his aunt that she had been cavorting with foreign men and it destroyed the picture of her pining away for him that he had created. James writes, "...he was annoyed at hearing of a state of affairs so little in harmony with an image that had lately flitted in and out of his own meditations." This revelation is symbolic of the disparity between reality and appearance which exists thematically in the story as Winterbourne had created a false reality which was broken when he heard of Daisy's actions. Judging the appearance of Daisy's behavior, Winterbourne is incapable of realizing the reality which lay underneath. His feelings are hurt and when Daisy enters the room he acts on pretense, pretending he does not notice her.

Daisy however cannot withhold her feelings and upon hearing Winterbourne's voice, she turns to him in surprise and chastises him for not visiting her sooner. She obviously has missed the man and is very excited to see him but he must remain properly reserved and so does not relay to Daisy the quickness with which he traveled to Rome. The text states, "...Winterbourne [was] rather annoyed at Miss Miller's want of appreciation of the zeal of an admirer who on his way down to Rome had stopped neither at Bologna nor at Florence..." Critics have noted that if Winterbourne had told Daisy that he had traveled to Rome in impatience and that he hoped she was anxiously awaiting him, the events which unfolded between them likely could have been very different. Yet, as Winterbourne often expresses his doubts and feelings to himself or perhaps the outside ear of his aunt, Daisy knows very little of how he feels. As a result she believes he feels very little, calling him "stiff" and "quaint." He is overly proper in her eyes and little more.

One understands now how the "central observing consciousness" controls the telling of the story because the reader is privy so frequently to the subjective flow of consciousness experienced by the hero, Winterbourne. Daisy, on the other hand, expresses her feelings and thoughts readily to her acquaintances but we know little of the motivation behind anything because we hear more about her than from her. The reader, along with Winterbourne, has to decide for herself -- consistent with the tone of subjectivity and partially obstructed truth with which James liked to play -- if Daisy is innocent or designing. In the manner of the circles of analysis, where Daisy's character is explored in a circular motion from many different viewpoints, the reader observes the girl as an injured friend in Mrs. Walker's room and then seemingly as a rebellious coquette as she moves through the Pincio with two men.

Moreover, in between the layers of character exploration, hints of foreshadowing are dropped by James to heighten the suspense of Daisy and Winterbourne's decision making. For instance, Mrs. Miller misunderstands Mrs. Walker's anxiety about Daisy walking alone and believes it is because of the dangers of the fever. Mrs. Miller warns Daisy that even walking with someone will not protect her from fever, foreshadowing the events of the last chapter and moving the girl closer to defying objective rules of caution. However Daisy still walks a line of innocence as is observed when Mrs. Walker demands her attention in the Pincio. Daisy defies the conventions of the culture readily and without fear, determined to act as she pleases and live life to its fullest. This is consistent with the Daisy we know. However, she realizes that Mrs. Walker may mean something not completely innocent when she tells Daisy that Daisy is being talked about. Daisy decides that she wishes to not know what Mrs. Walker means because she wishes to stay innocent and without knowledge of the rules she has been caught between. This is symbolic of Daisy's true innocence and lack of culture.

When Winterbourne tells Daisy that he also thinks she must "save her reputation" by giving into the decorum she despises, she declares that she will not be untrue to herself and they must give her up. However Winterbourne too cannot be untrue to his character, as James is a realist concerning characters, and "the truth, for Winterbourne, as the few indications I have been able to give have made him known to the reader, was that Daisy Miller should get into the carriage." Daisy's laugh is violent in response and it becomes clear that by remaining true to himself, Winterbourne has made the decision to reject Daisy paralleling the decision he makes at the end of the chapter. James cleverly structures the scene as Winterbourne leaves the carriage so that he views a very intimate moment between Daisy and Giovanelli. Winterbourne again believes in the appearance he sees without checking out the reality of the situation and he moves toward Mrs. Costello's house, a metaphor for his ultimate siding with American circle abroad.

Mr. Giovanelli is the last major character introduced into the story and fulfills quite a major role. His intimacy with Daisy parallels the intimacy between the courier and the Millers as both relationships are looked down upon by the American circle as vulgar and uncouth. His name literally means young man thus substantiating the claim that the reader was meant to understand Giovanelli as a type. His type is one of an imitation European gentleman as Winterbourne observes on first seeing him. The flowers in his buttonhole function synecdochally for Giovanelli because they were viewed as vulgar and overly conspicuous by the upper classes. As his urbanity and smoothness illustrated that he was a well trained imitation of a gentleman, so his overly prominent buttonhole stood as a signifier to those who knew enough that Giovanelli was simply a second rate man. The descriptions concerning Giovanelli mention the protrusion from his buttonhole numerous times to stress how highly symbolic and incriminating the buttonhole is. Furthermore, that Winterbourne realizes immediately that Giovanelli is an imitation but Daisy believes him to be the most handsome, most dashing man in the world besides Winterbourne symbolizes her lack of knowledge and experience with such types. She is blind to Giovanelli's artifice and thus gladly spends time with him because she enjoys their time and his manners. Little else matters to her. Giovanelli, on the other hand, understands that his time with Daisy is being intruded upon when Winterbourne walks with them but "reflected upon that profundity of Italian cleverness which enables people to appear more gracious in proportion as they are more acutely disappointed." He sets up a complete contrast to Daisy, an definite opposition of types, because of the significance in their relationship of the themes of knowledge as evil versus inexperience as innocence and nature versus urbanity. Giovanelli will fall more into this role in the Colosseum scene to come.