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How does a mutually available social setting cause tension and possible resolution...

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windrider | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 29, 2010 at 3:57 PM via web

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How does a mutually available social setting cause tension and possible resolution between two cultures in Henry James' "Daisy Miller"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted January 30, 2010 at 2:39 AM (Answer #1)

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One way in which tension is caused between two cultures with different ways in "Daisy Miller" is seen in Daisy's behavior and the reaction it engenders. Daisy, an American in a family holding new wealth from business enterprises, is free, open and independent in her behavior toward gentlemen she meets, especially toward Winterbourne, the male protagonist of the story. He and Daisy enjoy some pleasant outings. Then, in later times, when he wishes to resume his enjoyable acquaintance with Daisy, he discovers that European society has interpreted her innocent untutored behavior according to their lights and values. As a result, Daisy is wrongly labeled as the wrong sort of girl to be introduced into polite, civilized social circles and events.

A possible resolution to such cultural misinterpretation is seen in the later interaction between Daisy and Winterbourne. He has the possibility of restructuring his preconceptions and of seeing Daisy in light of her own experience instead of in light of another, older culture's experience and demands. Winterbourne returns to Geneva having been on the brink of turning a new leaf of perception and judgment without having succeeded and, instead, having turned away from his own knowledge of right and Daisy's conduct of right, which proceeded from within the bounds of her own culture.

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