Daisy Miller, which first appeared in England in Cornhill Magazine in 1878, has always remained one of Henry James's most popular works. It has some characteristics of the novel of manners, a genre, often but not always satiric, which represents the behavior, customs and values typical of a particular social class in a given time and place. Specifically, in it James presents an early version of his "international theme" by juxtaposing the manners and culture of American tourists in Europe with those of Americans who have lived abroad for such a long time that they have become Europeanized. The major aspects of this America-Europe contrast are innocence vs. experience, spontaneity vs. ritual, naturalness vs. artificiality and frankness vs. duplicity. In developing these polarities, James moves beyond the surface to endow his story with deepening social, psychological, and moral significance.
The social dimension arises from the differences between Daisy Miller, a young woman from Schenectady, New York, who is touring Europe with her mother and younger brother Randolph, and Frederick Winterbourne, a twenty-seven-year-old native of the United States who has spent most of his life in Geneva, Switzerland. Daisy and Winterbourne meet one June morning in the garden of a hotel in Vevey, a charming resort town on Lake Geneva. He is immediately attracted by her prettiness and her air of directness and independence so different from the restrained...
(The entire section is 1269 words.)
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