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20100126-930 James (Group 3)

Page history last edited by adrienne.k.rankin@... 10 years, 8 months ago



Today we continued our discussion on Henry James's "Daisy Miller," beginning with how it can be classified as a realist story. “Daisy Miller” is a novel of observation in that the entire premise of the novel is based upon the observations of Winterbourne. This relates to Realism because Realism is simply the observation and subsequent portrayal of "life as it is." Daisy Miller is an ordinary American girl; though uncommonly scandalous in her actions, it is possible to identify her as an unexceptional character.  


Daisy is overly flirtatious, talkative and excessively independent for a girl living at her time period. She also seeks the company of “untrustworthy” or lower class men, and goes out with them alone after dark.  This kind of activity is something to expect of a whore, and not a young lady.  Nevertheless, her steadfast belief in feminine freedoms both maintains her likability and increases her normalcy through her flaws. Winterbourne is another relatable character; he is not a mystery to us and maintains an accessible psychological perspective.


The "big question" in class was whether or not James constructed a tragedy.  If the conclusion is that Daisy was just an ignorant child and maintained her innocence, then yes it is tragic because she didn’t know any better. Her death, then, was not her own doing, but the fault of her family who did not raise her properly or reign in her inhibitions. However, if the conclusion is that Daisy was knowingly committing these acts as a means of getting attention, then it isn’t tragic because she knew what she was getting into. It is difficult to decide if it's a tragedy partly because the story is written from Winterbourne's perspective, making it impossible to discern Daisy's true intentions.


Word Count: 293



"Miss Daisy Miller looked extremely innocent.  Some people had told him that, after all, American girls were exceedingly innocent; and other had told him that, after all, they were not.  He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt - a pretty American flirt . . . Winterbourne was almost grateful for having found the formula that applied to Daisy Miller" (397).  


In this passage, Winterbourne observes and attempts to pass judgment on Daisy Miller.  This section emphasizes Romantic/Realist relations; had this story been told during the Romantic era, Winterbourne would have most likely constructed an elaborate backstory.  Instead, he rationally applies what he "knows" to a mundane, simple conclusion on her character. 


"The early Roman spring had filled the air with bloom and perfume, and the rugged surface of the Palatine was muffled with tender verdure.  Daisy was strolling along the top of one of those great mounds of ruin that are embanked with mossy marble and paved with monumental inscriptions.  It seemed to him that Rome had never been so lovely as just then" (424).  


This passage portrays Daisy's inherent ties to nature, emphasizing society's inability to control her actions.  The description of the Palatine - "muffled with tender verdure" - may apply to Daisy herself.  Her cutting remarks and lack of propriety tend to emerge as innocence in his eyes until the end - an interesting parallel.  


"I have more friends in New York then in Schenectady---more gentlemen friends; and more young lady friends too [...] I've always had", she said, "a great deal of gentlemen's society" (396).


Daisy delivers these lines in a conversation with Winterborne. In doing so, not only does she make the question of her innocence more of a mystery, she also gives light to the way Daisy tries to justify her actions of going out with men alone 'unescorted.'


Key Terms

Coquette - a woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of man

Novels of Manner - Novels like Jane Austen's, that deal with the cultural proprieties of the day

Panoptican - a circular prison with a watchtower in the center; analogous to Daisy Miller's observers 

Realism - portraying life as it is, the small details of life even the mundane, representative of characters

Novels of Observation - Novels that fall under the Realism category; actions/descriptions in story based on main character's/narrator's observations

Amoroso - Italian lover

Comments (12)

anmorri@... said

at 8:42 pm on Jan 26, 2010

I just wanted to start, I figured we could edit out where I actually put the questions but it seemed like a good starting point, I also didn't think about writing down the page numbers to the passages we went over in class so if anyone has those feel free to put some of the passages up.

adrienne.k.rankin@... said

at 9:27 am on Jan 27, 2010

I thought it would be better to have the summary in paragraphs rather than in questions; so, I changed it. This is a hard day to write for, since it pretty much continued what we did in the last class.

anmorri@... said

at 1:19 pm on Jan 27, 2010

well, I said in the beginning that the questions should be taken out anyway, I just wanted a starting point so that the paragraphs later on wouldn't be redundant, is that word count up to date? Because it doesn't do it on its own, and thats the exact number from when I put the rest of it up, also anyone else should add too.

adrienne.k.rankin@... said

at 2:12 pm on Jan 27, 2010

sorry! i didn't even notice that. :) and the word count was the same; crazy.

Luukas Pekkala said

at 3:41 pm on Jan 27, 2010

Hey, added a few lines into the summary, as well as a new Key Term. The word count got bumped up to 315 for the summary, but I have to go to a class now, so I'll work some more on it when I finish up with that. Everything looks great so far, not too much more I can add from what I've written down in my notes.

anmorri@... said

at 6:52 pm on Jan 27, 2010

Hey, just fixed the formatting so all the text was the same font and there werent any weird spacings, I can't really think of anything else to add

Luukas Pekkala said

at 7:18 pm on Jan 27, 2010

Edited around a little bit, managed to get the summary back down to 300 words exactly. Thankyew kindly for fixing the format, by the way. Looks much better now.

anmorri@... said

at 7:27 pm on Jan 27, 2010

awesome, I think it looks great guys :)

nroth@... said

at 7:43 pm on Jan 27, 2010

hey friends i played around with it after logging in finding it not only mostly done but also well done. I changed a few things grammar-wise and stylistically. If you don't like please change it and then censure me on my flaws.

adrienne.k.rankin@... said

at 9:46 pm on Jan 27, 2010

I made a few edits in the summary to make it flow better; we said she was unexceptional, then went on to talk about how crazy she was, and it sounded a little "off" reading back over it. But I think it's super now! Go team!

anmorri@... said

at 10:47 pm on Jan 27, 2010

Hey guys just fixed the formatting again, it just really bothers me when fonts are different and different sizes and some things are bolded and others aren't. haha. anyway I think its just about perfect now. Good jobs guys :)

Brian Croxall said

at 10:37 am on Feb 1, 2010

This is a good first set of notes, and I am glad that you seemed to find the commenting feature of the wiki so handy. It certainly appears from the outside that this was a group effort to reach a consensus that accurately reflected the class discussion. On the whole, you chose excellent passages, included every key term that I can think that we discussed (plus one or two more), and your summary covers much of the conversation.

A few points: I was surprised that your summary suggests that the big question of the class was whether or not Daisy Miller is a tragedy, since that was something that we had discussed more on the previous day of class. Instead, I would have said that the main point was where you begin the summary: with how the text is representative of realism. But my perceptions are certainly not as accurate as the camera, so I may be mistaken. It is worth noting, however, that I think it's not quite accurate to speak of Daisy having a steadfast belief in women's freedoms. That gives her perhaps more intentionality in this arena than she actually possesses (although one could certainly argue differently). But since you launched into the discussion of women's rights, I was a bit surprised not to see any of the closing discussion that focused on Mrs. Walker.

For the passages, I think it would work better if you resisted the personal pronoun. If the class is studying from these notes, we don't want them to think that this is reflective of only one person's opinions rather than capturing the class consensus. This becomes especially important in the explanation of the first passage, which brings up romanticism in a way that we didn't discuss in class.

Still, I recognize that I might have a Platonic ideal of these notes, and you've got a good start with what is here.

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