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Daisy Miller

Henry James
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Daisy Miller: A Study

author  Henry James

type of work Novella

genre Comedy/tragedy of manners

language English

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; unsentimental; ironic

tense  Past

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 himself about.

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 life

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.