A Character Analysis of Winterbourne in James Daisy Miller The story of Daisy Miller is about the social upheaval of the late nineteenth century as the growing American wealthy middle class tussled against the European aristocracy. It also shows how Winterbourne never fully understood Daisy Miller because his class-consciousness and greed got in the way. The latter is what I intend to develop in this paper. Winterbourne is a young American man that has lived in Geneva so long that he had lost a good deal; he had become dis habituated to the America tone. Winterbourne first meets Daisy in the garden of Vevey. He quickly deducted that Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt-a pretty American flirt.
Winterbourne is quick to befriend this beautiful American girl. He even wants to introduce Daisy to his aunt. It is during this first conversation between Winterbourne and his aunt that Winterbourne true character begins to be drawn out. Mrs. Costello dislikes the Millers. She believes they are common and that Daisy is a dreadful girl! She refuses to meet Daisy.
Winterbourne listened to all this and once tried to standup for Daisy stating, she is not, after all, a Comanche savage. In the end, his aunt helps him make up his mind that Daisy is rather wild. It is at this point, that we begin to see Winterbourne's opinion of Daisy change from one of acceptance to one of condemnation as his tolerance of cultural standards is clouded by the prejudices of the European aristocrats (Mrs. Costello). Mrs. Costello represents the aristocracy that is so prevalent throughout this story.
She has a great deal of control over Winterbourne. It appears clear that she holds the purse strings. However, Winterbourne is still charmed by Daisy and he continues to defend Daisy to the aristocracy, claiming that she is just uncultivated and is truly innocent. A couple weeks later the Millers go off to Rome, Winterbourne follows, taking Daisy up on her invitation. Winterbourne visits his aunt before finding Daisy in the city. Mrs.
Costello, once again, berates the Millers, especially Daisy. Winterbourne defends them claiming, they are very ignorant very innocent only, but not necessarily bad people. Winterbourne soon finds out that Daisy has a new gentlemen friend by the name of Giovanelli. Mrs. Walker, an affluent society member, does not approve of Daisy meeting with Mr.
Giovanelli. Daisy not wanting to do anything improper convinced Winterbourne to chaperone her until she met up with Mr. Giovanelli. Winterbourne notices that Giovanelli is not what he considers a gentleman and he tells Daisy that he intends to remain with her. Daisy retorts that she has never allowed a gentleman to dictate to her or interfere with anything she did. But she nevertheless walked happily between Winterbourne and Giovanelli.
Winterbourne begins to wonder if Daisy really was as innocent as she seemed because he felt that a nice girl ought to know she was being improper. Mrs. Walker rode up in her carriage and directed Winterbourne to convince Daisy to join her because fifty people have noticed her. Winterbourne again defends Daisy by stating that Mrs. Walker is making too much of a fuss about it but Mrs. Walker felt that Daisy was ruining herself.
Winterbourne continues to claim that Daisy is innocent. Daisy walked over to the carriage and Mrs. Walker asked her to get in. Daisy refused because she was so enchanted just as she was.
Mrs. Walker said that walking with two men was not the custom in Rome and Daisy responded, Well, it ought to be! Finally, Daisy declared that she was improper. Mrs. Walker then used her standing in society and forces Winterbourne to get in the carriage in Daisy's place. Here again we see Winterbourne choose the European aristocracy over Daisy. Winterbourne doesn t see Daisy again until Mrs.
Walker's party. Daisy tells him that she wouldn't change her habits for the society. Winterbourne calls her a flirt. Winterbourne then goes to great lengths to explain to Daisy that if she doesn't change she would have to deal with the consequences, but Daisy ignores his advice. Upon leaving the party, Mrs.
Walker turns her back to Daisy and Winterbourne feels a twinge of pity for her. Over the next few days, the entire elite class talked about how dreadful Daisy was for going too far. Winterbourne agrees with these comments, but he still feels pity for Daisy. Daisy was ostracized from the society. Winterbourne goes to confront her on the matter, Daisy believes in her innocence that, they are only pretending to be shocked. Winterbourne later comes across Daisy and Giovanelli one evening in the Roman coliseum; at this point he makes his final decision and gives up on Daisy.
Winterbourne comes to full realization that Daisy is a reckless girl and she does not care about her reputation or her society. Winterbourne states that she was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect. Winterbourne s rigidity and his frosty treatment of Daisy chill her, eliciting her exclamation, I don t care whether I have Roman fever or not. Winterbourne was angry that Daisy wasn t so innocent as he told himself and others so many times before. The aristocrats continue to gossip about Daisy, but Winterbourne no longer defended her.
A week later, Daisy died of a case of Roman Fever that she caught the night in the coliseum. Before she died, Daisy sent a message to Winterbourne explaining she was not engaged and had no intimate attachment to Mr. Giovanelli. Winterbourne, distanced, disregarded the message. Though Daisy died of Roman fever, Winterbourne s frost is what truly killed the flower, Daisy.
A year later, Winterbourne was visiting his aunt in Vevey. He began to think of Daisy and the injustice he caused her at the time of her death. He told his aunt that he had understood Daisy's last message over the course of the last year. He told his aunt that she was right the year before about him booked to make a mistake regarding Daisy. He even realizes that he has indeed lived too long in foreign parts. Yet, he has been so influenced by conservative European social conventions that he was unable to appreciate Daisy s free and natural spirit and he turned his back on her just as Mrs.
Walker once did. Had Winterbourne pursued his interest in Daisy instead of rejecting her, the story would have turned out differently. Winterbourne rejected Daisy because of the social standards of the European society. Winterbourne's opinion of Daisy changes from acceptance to condemnation as his tolerance of cultural standards is clouded by the prejudices of the European aristocrats.
He chooses his aunts social standing and money over a life with Daisy.