Daisy Miller is a young woman who embraces life with full vigor and curiosity. She responds to the world around her through her senses, her feelings. She does not consult convention or tradition to see how she is supposed to behave. She responds with a natural easiness that makes her very different from European girls, and even American girls who follow the rules for Americans in Europe. Daisy becomes the subject of gossip and for Winterborne, a fascination.
Winterborne, an American who has lived in Europe most of his life, has learned how to fit into the more structured, stuffy society in Europe. When he meets Daisy Miller, she is a breath of fresh air. At the same time that he is fascinated with observing her, he is also repulsed by her lack of concern for society's expectations or her reputation.
For Winterborne, meeting Daisy Miller gives him a lesson on what Americans are really like. Considering that he has not been home to America for many years, his perception of Americans is formed by Europeans in America. When he meets Daisy Miller, so free of conventions, and willing to live life according to her own rules, he is fascinated by her freedom.
Daisy Miller represents the difference between the freedom of America and the stuffy tradition of Europe.