Why did Henry James write Daisy Miller?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Henry James wrote Daisy Miller, according to his biography, after hearing how some European socialites spoke with contempt against the mannerisms, lack of culture, and lack of social status of a nouveau riche socialite who was trying to rub shoulders with rich aristocrats during her first grand tour of Europe.  At the time of James, for an American family to come to money was a demonstration of how differently Americans and Europeans view the making of a person: In Europe,  you need peerage and name. In America, money is enough to make you socially acceptable.

In the case of James, he used this story he heard to convey a message: How society views a person who has just come from somewhere else using the assumptions of their current society, and how individuals observe that person as well.

Therefore, the "study" in two parts is not only on the views of how society shun Daisy Miller for her nouveau riche behavior, but also how Winterbourne saw her under his criteria of a man of society, and as a man who could possibly end up loving a controversial woman like that.

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