Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 15, 2023
December 8, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas
explored in a literary work.
Daisy Miller was one of James’s earliest
treatments of one of the themes for which he became best known:
the expatriate or footloose American abroad. Americans abroad was
a subject very much of the moment in the years after the Civil War.
The postwar boom, the so-called Gilded Age, had given rise to a
new class of American businessman, whose stylish families were eager
to make “the grand tour” and expose themselves to the art and culture
of the Old World. Americans were visiting Europe for the first time
in record numbers, and the clash between the two cultures was a
novel and widespread phenomenon.
James was of two minds about the American character. By
temperament, he was more sympathetic with the European
way of life, with its emphasis on culture, education, and the art
of conversation. Like most Europeans, he saw his compatriots as
boorish, undereducated, and absurdly provincial, unaware of a vast
and centuries-old world outside their own new and expanding dominions.
However, he was also fascinated by the poignant innocence of the
American national character, with its emphasis on earnestness rather
than artifice. In later novels, such as The Portrait of
a Lady and The American, James
would continue to explore the moral implications of an artlessness
that, like Daisy’s, cannot defend itself against the worldliness
and cynicism of a decadent society based, necessarily, on hypocrisy.
If the American abroad was James’s signature theme, that
of the unlived life was his almost perpetual subtext. Repeatedly
in James’s novels and stories, characters focus their attention
on an abstraction, an ideal or idea they feel they could figure
out or achieve if only they could devote their spirit or intellectual
faculties to it with sufficient understanding or patience. Again
and again, they realize too late that whatever it was they sought to
understand or achieve, whatever they waited for, has passed them
by and that they have wasted their whole life—or, like Winterbourne,
they never fully arrive at that realization. One way of looking
at Daisy Miller is to conclude that the whole issue
of Daisy’s character is beside the point, a red herring that distracts
Winterbourne from the business of living. In that case, the heart
of the novel would be Winterbourne’s character, and the fear or
lack of passion that causes him to hide from life behind the ultimately
unimportant conundrum of Daisy’s innocence, or lack thereof.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Daisy Miller!