SummaryThe next January, Winterbourne arrives in Rome at Mrs. Costello’s request. She also asks him to bring her “that pretty novel of Cherbuliez’s—“Paul Méré”. When he comes to Rome, he discovers that Daisy is worse than ever, going everywhere with “foreigners,” obvious fortune-hunters. Winterbourne again insists that Daisy is ignorant, but not bad. Mrs. Costello replies that the Millers are vulgar; she will leave the question of whether vulgarity is “bad” or not to the metaphysicians, but the Millers are bad enough to dislike.
Winterbourne hesitates concerning a visit to Daisy. He decides to go instead to a gathering at Mrs. Walker’s, a wealthy American lady whom he knew in Geneva. While he is there, the Millers arrive. Daisy reprimands Winterbourne for coming to see Mrs. Walker before her and refuses to believe that he had only recently arrived in Rome. Randolph, also present, of course hates Rome, which is not nearly as wonderful as America. Mrs. Miller is bothered by dyspepsia, which she blames on the climate of Rome.
Daisy tries to get Winterbourne in hot water with Mrs. Walker, but the hostess is clearly on Winterbourne’s side. Mrs. Miller brags about the number of gentlemen friends that Daisy has acquired, completely unconcerned or unaware about the eroding condition of her reputation among the American expatriates in Rome. Talk then turns to the party that Mrs. Walker is giving in the near future. Daisy announces that she is coming, bragging about the beautiful dress that she has to wear to it. Mrs. Walker politely agrees to everything Daisy says, but is obviously unimpressed as much as Daisy wants her to be. When Daisy asks if she can bring an Italian gentleman friend, Mrs. Walker reluctantly agrees. Daisy then announces that she is going walking with Mr. Giovanelli that evening. Both Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Miller try to persuade her not to, warning her that she will get “Roman fever” (malaria) from walking in the night air. Daisy ignores the warnings, but talks Winterbourne into going with her. Daisy rattles on, while Winterbourne accompanies her. She decides that she is going to ignore the warnings, and Winterbourne’s presence, and find Giovanelli. She finds him standing under a tree, watching the carriages containing ladies. Giovanelli is not happy that Winterbourne is accompanying Daisy, but he says nothing, revealing that he has long-range plans for his relationship with Daisy, and this small irritation can be tolerated at the moment. Winterbourne can tell that he is only pretending to be a gentleman. He judges Daisy after all to be anything but a “perfectly well-conducted young lady.” He is concerned about her safety and her reputation with Giovanelli. Mrs. Walker arrives in her carriage and insists that Daisy come home with her. Daisy stubbornly and rudely refuses. Mrs. Walker gives her up to a bad reputation and persuades Winterbourne to accompany her. Winterbourne tries to persuade Mrs. Walker that Daisy is harmless but ignorant. He leaves her to go back to Daisy, but instead goes to his aunt’s home.
Analysis As the setting of the novel changes to Rome, the atmosphere surrounding Daisy Miller changes as well. With the move to Rome, the hedonism of the Roman Empire begins to make its effect. Daisy begins to accumulate several “Latin lovers,” so to speak, making her behavior even more unacceptable in the eyes of her fellow Americans. It is clear, as Winterbourne points out, that her most evident flaw is ignorance—ignorance of the standards of behavior imposed on her, ignorance of the effect of her actions on the men with whom she is flirting,...
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ignorance of the consequences should the situation get out of hand. Yet she has begun to feel some measure of power as she accumulates these “beaux,” the power that a pretty young woman can have over men in general.
Winterbourne has clearly pegged her as uncultivated and ignorant, yet still he inexplicably pursues his interest in her. He mentions that he should just treat her as an object of “lawless passions,” yet he withholds himself for some other purpose. In a way he is very protective of her, but he is mostly concerned with protecting her from herself.
Mrs. Walker has a very strong sense of herself as well as her place in society, and has definite ideas of everyone else’s place as well. It is clear that she disapproves of Daisy and her family just as much as Mrs. Costello does. Though she valiantly tries to treat Daisy with respect, Daisy’s evident lack of respect for herself drives Mrs. Walker to be as blunt as possible with her. Daisy’s reaction is one of a petulant child, demanding to do what she wants to do regardless of the consequences.
Daisy rejects the advice of her elders, insisting that she knows what she is doing, is in no danger, and can take care of herself, even if she must fall into a situation of which the others do not approve. Her self-absorption makes the reader wonder why Winterbourne bothers giving her the least attention. In fact, Winterbourne is questioning this himself. Though he is clearly put out by Daisy’s attention to other men, ignoring the fact that he came to Rome just as she requested, and he is concerned about the intentions of Giovanelli toward the innocent and ignorant girl, he is beginning to pull away, moving more toward the accepted standards by which he has been raised. Initially he leaves Daisy and Giovanelli alone as Mrs. Walker requested, but then he leaves Mrs. Walker, intending to rejoin Daisy. In the end, he does not, but returns to his aunt’s hotel, placing himself more firmly in the camp of acceptable society.