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Daisy Miller: A Study
Author Henry James
Type of work Novella
Genre Comedy/tragedy of manners
Time and place written Spring of 1877, London
Date of first publication Summer 1877
Publisher The Cornhill magazine
Narrator Third-person limited
Point of view Winterbourne’s
Tone Light, easy-going, at times almost conversational;
Setting (time) The 1870s; “three or four years”
before the telling of the story
Setting (place) Vevey, Switzerland (Chapters 1 and 2);
Rome, Italy (Chapters 3 and 4)
Protagonist Daisy and/or Winterbourne
Major conflict Daisy’s refusal to conform to the strict European laws
of propriety that govern behavior, particularly relations between
young unmarried people of the opposite sex, raises eyebrows among
Rome’s high society.
Rising action Winterbourne meets Daisy and is charmed and intrigued
but also mystified by her.
Climax Winterbourne finds Daisy alone with Giovanelli in the
Coliseum and decides she is too unprincipled to continue troubling
Falling action Daisy realizes that she has lost Winterbourne’s respect,
falls ill, sends a message to him through her mother, and dies.
Themes Americans abroad; the sadness and safety of the unlived
Motifs Gossip; innocence
Symbols Daisy and Randolph; the Coliseum; Rome and Geneva
Foreshadowing Mrs. Costello’s attempt to warn Winterbourne against
making “a great mistake” about Daisy (Chapter 2) looks
forward to his too-late understanding of her at the end of the novel.
The scene in which Winterbourne sees Daisy walking above the burial
mounds at the Palace of the Caesars (Chapter 4),
like the numerous references to “the Roman fever” (Chapters 3 and 4),
prefigures her death.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Daisy Miller!