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Daisy Miller

Henry James

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Daisy Miller -  A rich, pretty, American girl traveling through Europe with her mother and younger brother. Daisy wants to be exposed to European high society but refuses to conform to old-world notions of propriety laid down by the expatriate community there. In Rome, she becomes involved with an Italian man named Giovanelli, and she eventually dies from malaria as a result of being outside with him at night. Along with Winterbourne, Daisy is the novel’s other possible protagonist.

Read an in-depth analysis of Daisy Miller.

Winterbourne -  A young American who has lived most of his life in Geneva. Winterbourne is the novel’s central narrative consciousness and possibly the protagonist. He is initially intrigued by Daisy because of her frivolity and independence, but he eventually loses respect for her. After she dies, however, he regrets his harsh judgment and wonders if he made a mistake in dismissing her so quickly.

Read an in-depth analysis of Winterbourne.

Randolph Miller -  Daisy’s younger brother. Randolph is a loud, ill-mannered, ungovernable little boy of about nine or ten.
Mrs. Miller -  Daisy and Randolph’s vague, weak, ineffectual mother. Mrs. Miller seems obsessed with her health and is utterly incapable of governing the behavior of her children. She is silly and clueless, but when Daisy falls ill, she proves “a most judicious and efficient nurse.”
Mrs. Costello -  Winterbourne’s aunt, a shallow, self-important woman who seems genuinely fond of Winterbourne. Mrs. Costello is the voice of snobbish high society. She also fulfills the role of “confidante,” a frequent figure in Henry James’s novels.
Eugenio -  The Millers’ supercilious interpreter/guide, often referred to as “the courier.” Eugenio has better judgment and a greater sense of propriety than either Daisy or Mrs. Miller and often treats them with thinly veiled contempt.
Mrs. Walker -  A wealthy, well-connected American widow who lives in Rome, knows Winterbourne from Geneva, and has befriended Daisy. Mrs. Walker shares the values of the rest of the American expatriate community, but she genuinely seems to care what happens to Daisy and tries to save her.
Mr. Giovanelli -  An Italian of unknown background and origins. Mr. Giovanelli’s indiscreet friendship with Daisy is misinterpreted by the American expatriate community and leads, directly or indirectly, to Daisy’s ostracism and death.

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Discussion question

by Susantizp, January 08, 2014

Daisy and Winterbourne. How do these names symbolically represent these characters? In what ways are the names appropriate? Can you suggest alternate names for both characters that would also be evocative of their nature? Explain.

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13 out of 13 people found this helpful

Daisy Miller-Stereotypes "American girl"

by sparklshine, February 02, 2014

How is Daisy Miller represented of the stereotype of he "American girl"?
And why is she so worried about her purity?

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1 out of 2 people found this helpful

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