Daisy Miller Questions and Answers
by Henry James

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In Daisy Miller, what does Mr. Giovanelli expect from his relationship with Daisy?

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Ester Baumgartner, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's very difficult to know what Mr. Giovanelli "expects" from Daisy Miller in Henry James's novella. This is because the story is told from the perspective of Winterbourne, who is an unreliable narrator. Firstly, he is not privy to Giovanelli's thoughts nor to the intimacies of his conversations with Daisy. Secondly, Winterbourne is clearly interested in Daisy as a romantic partner, so his jealousy colors his point of view.

What we do know from Winterbourne's observations is that Daisy and Giovanelli seem to be good friends who enjoy each other's company. Daisy seems to enjoy the freedom of her relationship with Giovanelli, whereas Winterbourne is more rigid in his views on society and propriety, so his interaction with Daisy tends to be more formal. Daisy is judged by the society around her, but it's difficult to know how deeply she is affected by that judgment. Sometimes she seems upset by it, while other times she comes off as more carefree. Her indulgence in impropriety, though, leads to her death because she contracts malaria from being out in Rome at night (with Giovanelli). It seems that Giovanelli is never considered an appropriate partner for Daisy, meaning they are not expected to marry, so I doubt he expects that from her. He seems to simply enjoy spending time with her and to expect to benefit from her friendship. It's impossible to say whether he wants or expects more than that since Winterbourne himself cannot possibly know.

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Edith Sykes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Although Mr. Giovanelli is not really a gentleman, according to the rules of polite society, he is a friend to Daisy.  He does not judge her or try to convince her to behave in a certain way.  He does not push her around, but he does not look after her best interests either.  He knows that what she is doing can damage her reputation and he also knows that Daisy will be vulnerable to the Roman fever, yet he does not protect her.  Maybe that is why Daisy liked him so much.

From my view, I think that Mr. Giovanelli is very flattered to have Daisy's attention.  He is a wannabee, putting on airs with his fancy clothes and flowers in his buttonhole, he is suave and slick.  He enjoys being in Daisy's company.

Daisy was a girl who knowingly took risks so that she could experience life.  Perhaps she particularly chose Mr. Giovanelli, because she knew that she could do what she wanted with him and he enjoyed being in her company.  

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