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20100126-1230 James (Group 3)

Page history last edited by Ashley MacCheyne 11 years, 6 months ago



Continuing our discussion of "Daisy Miller", we started by examining why Daisy's behavior is considered inappropriate for her time. Other people see Daisy as being too social with men, always hanging out with them unchaperoned. Walking in a park alone with a man makes her look like a prostitute, and as Mrs. Walker points out, "Fifty people have noticed her" (page 415).  During this discussion, the class learned about Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, a prison designed so that the guards could look in on prisoners, but prisoners were never sure if they were being watched.   In this society, women like Mrs. Walker police themselves and other women to keep them in line. Proper women (unlike Daisy) are paranoid that others could be watching, so they behave accordingly, much like the prisoners of the panopticon. At the end of class the question it was asked if by writing a realist text and being the eye that is watching, how is James any different than Mrs. Walker?


Persisting in this line of thought, we also examined Winterbourne's observation and analyzation of Daisy, noting that James likens his main character (Winterbourne) to a Realist author. Two questions seemed to be recurrent in our discussion and observations: "How does this novella function as a Realist piece of literature?" and "Is the story a tragedy?" We reviewed several passages that marked Winterbourne's changing perceptions of Daisy and considered how his ever-changing and painstakingly detailed analyses characterized the piece as Realism. However, in answering the second question concerning the story as a tragedy, one must pass judgement upon Daisy's character and find her innocent or guilty. Such a conclusion may introduce a question of whether observation and judgement are mutually exclusive or whether they go hand in hand and also how these two terms pertain to the Realist movement in general.






Word Count: 265 words




"Daisy Miller" page 425


     "They will give you the cold shoulder. Do you know what that means?"

     Daisy was looking at him (Winterbourne) intently; she began to color. "Do you mean as Mrs. Walker did the other night?"


The question was raised whether or not Daisy fully understands what she is doing. It was suggested that Daisy is aware that her behavior is shocking and her innocence is an act. She likes the attention and she says all she wants is "a little fuss" (page 406). In opposition, it was suggested that Daisy was clueless, shown in the passage above when she finally puts two and two together and becomes embarrassed when she realizes why Mrs. Walker was so rude to her.


"Daisy Miller" page 429


     "'She sent me a message before her death which I didn't understand at the time. But I have understood it since. She would have appreciated one's esteem.' 'Is that a modest way,' asked Mrs. Costello, 'of saying that she would have reciprocated one's affection?'"


     This passage is one of the last in the story, and it marks Winterbourne's final "analyzation" of Daisy. He continues to disect her character even after her death, and his claim that she only wished for "one's esteem" may influence the reader's residual perception of Daisy as a sympathetic character. Mrs. Costello's inquiry about reciprocal affection brings attention to the differences in "affection" and "esteem," especially as they pertain to the time period and cultural norms around which this story revolves. Daisy has plenty of affection, very little esteem. However, returning to the previously mentioned link between Winterbourne and the Realist author, it is interesting to note that Winterbourned only fully understands Daisy after she is dead. How does this fact play into our discussion of Realism? 



Key Terms


novel of manners - drama and action of the story is driven by social rules and conditions


panopticon- invented by Jeremy Bentham in 1785, this prison design features cell blocks that encircle a tower. The guards in the tower can see the prisoners, but the prisoners cannot see the guards, thus invoking the "sentiment of an invisible omnicience." This concept is important to the story because it reflects the ways in which people police themselves when they think they are being watched.



Comments (4)

Jenna Lappi said

at 6:09 pm on Jan 26, 2010

I started the summary and added the passage when Daisy realizes why Mrs. Walker was so rude to her. Maybe someone could talk a little more about Jeremy Bentham and his idea of the panopticon and how it relates to Mrs. Walker and the other women in the text.

taylor said

at 9:11 pm on Jan 26, 2010

I added a little to the summary and tried to introduce some broader questions about Realism in general, trying to expand beyond a transcript of the class discussion. You guys can let me know if you don't think it works.
Also, Jenna, I found the "fuss" reference page for your passage comment, and did a little research on the panopticon.

Ashley MacCheyne said

at 2:26 am on Jan 29, 2010

I added a bit about the panopticon as well in the first paragraph, just to introduce it a bit earlier. If you can think of a better way to word it, feel free.

Brian Croxall said

at 11:05 am on Feb 1, 2010

This is a good first set of notes for the assignment, and I was pleased to see that you were using the comments to communicate with one another about the development of the page. I was less pleased to see that only 3 out of 5 group members contributed, but I also know that Alex and Dan were not in class on Tuesday. That doesn't mean, however, that you cannot help with formatting, grammar, and other such things that do improve a set of notes.

You do a good job in your summary focusing on the main point of the day, which was how the text engages on multiple levels with the concept of realism. I was a bit surprised to see you tackle the panopticon first, but I think it works for those of us who were in class. Good job using extra quotations within the summary to skirt the limits on passages within the notes. The quotations help make James's work more plain. If anything is lacking in the summary, it would probably be a little more on how Winterbourne works as a "realist." This absence seems all the more striking since you don't have a passage that comments explicitly on this point.

The passages that you pick are good, however, and they help to illustrate the difficulty of assessing Daisy's innocence. Moreover, you appropriately achieve what Taylor was aiming for in expanding the conversation a bit beyond what was said in class while doing so in an appropriate and clear-to-follow manner.

Finally, your definitions are spot-on.

All in all, barring the absent discussion of Winterbourne, you've done what I had hoped you would. Good work.

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