Daisy Miller, By Henry James: (I) To What Extent Is Daisy Miller's Character A Reflection Of The American Character? (Ii) Was Henry James' Ending Artistically Necessary?

495 words - 2 pages

Daisy Miller, ubiquitous flirt, cavorts around with mysterious Italian romantics and remains contemptuous and ignorant of European social customs during her short stay in the Old World. On an intimate level, Daisy's story is one about a young woman's hedonistic adventures in a world where hedonism has no place. Daisy's self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking lifestyle is typical of the American capitalist world, and her untimely death is a literary and symbolic necessity--- Daisy's death signifies the short-lived nature of gluttonous behavior. On a larger scale, Henry James'Daisy Miller may be interpreted as a portrait of the American character and American destiny: boldly adventurous and ...view middle of the document...

Henry James establishes Daisy as the mirror of America: her youthful, capricious, and consistently sunny disposition is a subtle analogy to the spirited American capitalism and optimism of the times. Daisy is the complete antithesis of the stuffy Mrs. Walker, whose social traditions are so deeply imbued that it leaves no room for compromise within her Old World character. While Mrs. Walker represents the graceful sophistication and controlled demeanor of the European aristocracy, Daisy's boundless energy exudes from her body, carelessly spilled as she flounders here, frolics there.It is precisely this unrestrained energy that leads to Daisy's demise. If trapped in a productive person, Daisy's energy would have transformed her previously flawed self into a remarkable, brilliant figure. However, she channels this energy in an entirely different direction and only succeeds in alienating and scandalizing the very people she strives to imitate. With nowhere to go, Daisy's character has nothing left to accomplish but to die, and die young. Daisy's death is the death of an American youth, yet on a wider scale, it is the death of possibility and potential: the makings of something great. America is a young nation, fearlessly changing, constantly evolving. However, America, like all other nations, will grow old someday, steeped in its established "traditions" and "customs---" discriminating against others without realizing that it was once a discriminated entity as well. To preserve this American institution of fluidity, sanguinity, and vibrancy, it was artistically necessarily for Daisy Miller to die young, while she was still filled with a hedonistic vivacity.

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