|← Contact Styles||Mencius and Xun Zi →|
The story of Daisy Miller is a feminist story because it brings out the challenges that Daisy Miller; a 'pretty American flirt' had to go through in her quest to win the love of his heart Winterbourne. The story brings out Daisy as flouting roles, which were updated and kind of accepted at the time. This is a feminist story because first it is a piece of literary focused on a woman unlike in the early days when the only time women came to be mentioned even in books was when they were aiding certain roles for men. Daisy is brought out as a person who is out seeking the attention of men through flirting and then acting as a 'social chameleon' wherever she travelled.
When she finally met Winterbourne, she realized that in him, she had a gentleman. She endeavored to try to show him that she had true feelings for him and that she desperately wanted to show him that she had true interest in him (Henry, pg 23). Because she was unable to communicate her feelings to Winterbourne, she opted to adopting a standard technique of playing some futile brain games to get the affection she needed. In as much as this is a feminist story, it is not pro-women at all because it seeks to paint the protagonist in bad light. It silently criticizes the behaviors of Daisy in her quest to win the love and attention of Winterbourne. The femininity is however due to the freedom that Daisy has to engage in to satisfy her interests without direct opposition and inhibition from such pursuant.
The writer holds that the attempts that Daisy used to win the attention of his affection are immature strategies, which are only used to create jealousy in him so that he can start thinking about him favorably. Daisy for instance tells him how she had always gone to dinner parties with gentlemen; how she has gone on several trips to New York and that she has an array of friends in the 'gentlemen society'. Daisy is depicted as asking Winterbourne questions in such a way that should also answer those questions about her. It is indicated that even Winterbourne noticed that everything she asked him about were "Of her own tastes, habits and intentions. Miss Miller was prepared to give the most favorable account" (Henry, Pg 45). Daisy is depicted as one who though got the attention from Winterbourne, wanted him to show more signs of devotion to her and therefore orchestrated a plan to ensure that Winterbourne expressed his feelings first.
Daisy is brought out as one who used everything she did to indirectly seek the attention of men. In their meeting in Vevey, Daisy asked Winterbourne if he would mind taking her for a boat ride. When he eventually obliged and said he would not mind, Daisy just stood there watching and laughing and even went ahead and admitted that "I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!" (Henry, pg 121) She later admitted that all she wanted was a little fuss. She is depicted to have engaged in blackmail with Winterbourne when she insisted that the only reason she wanted to go back to Geneva was that he had a girlfriend waiting for him. She even went to the extent of calling him 'horrid' when in real sense she did not mean it in real sense. She insisted on the story purposely until Winterbourne admit to her that she was the only one who commanded his affection. Even at the point when the argument was coming to conclusion when Winterbourne offered to visit her in Rome sometime later, she was not at peace that he was still going to be in Rome because she thought Winterbourne was only supposed to go to Rome just to see her and not any other business. This whole encounter is not pro-women because it makes the woman at the focal point appear to be nagging the men and playing the bad ones even in situations where the men are playing gentle and humble.
Daisy's main machination towards winning Winterbourne is to make him as jealous as possible. Winterbourne was perplexed at Daisy's behaviors quite the opposite of what was expected in a scenario involving a woman and a man. The plans that Daisy had to drive Winterbourne to the wall and make him confess his love for her saw her even use another man, Giovanelli as bait. While looking at Winterbourne she even had the courage to disclose to him that she had a planned walk with another man, Giovanelli! She even said "Mr. Giovanelli-the beautiful Giovanelli" (Henry, pg 156). It indicates how the woman figure here (Daisy) was just concerned about herself to an extent that she even looked at Mr. Geovanelli and saw herself in him and that is why she probably considered him 'beautiful and not handsome' all in an attempt to make Winterbourne jealous! To make matters worse, she even went to the extent of asking him to escort him to the place where she was going to meet Giovanelli.
Daisy pulled a deliberate late arrival at Mrs. Walker's party holding Giovanelli's arm to evoke some reactions from the crowd and more so from Winterbourne. This time round, she succeeded in getting a reaction from Winterbourne to prove that he is indeed jealous only that they ended up bickering about it. She called her bluff, was shocked beyond words at the turn of events and slinked away most of the evening. In the end, when Daisy even tried to evoke more jealousy in Winterbourne by asking him if he thought she was engaged, the response showed an element of indifference and it hurt her even more.
This piece of literature therefore is not at all pro-women because it puts them in bad picture especially in relations to relationships with men. It appears from the outward that Daisy is a happy and carefree woman when the truth is that she is the opposite. She is used to bring out women as people who may go to lengths to exploit male people's emotions in order to achieve their desires (Henry, pg 213). Even when men try to treat them properly, women are exhibited to bring on board some element of immaturity in their pursuit for selfish desires, which ruin the whole affair. Winterbourne is brought out to have gracefully tried all efforts to treat Daisy in a dignified manner but it all went unappreciated in Daisy's immature mind.
In response to men's appreciation for them, the women folk are depicted to be people who will always engage in playing games and schemes that would only make them feel good about themselves without caring for the other person (male counterpart). When everything backfires, it is however unfortunate that the women are the ones who suffer the most the way Daisy did. In the end, they lose respect. Women are brought out as willing to flirt around with men with total disregard for their feelings (Henry, pg 219). They are portrayed as people who have metamorphosed and have changed their ways by seeking to flirt with men instead of settling down in healthy and platonic relationships. In this game of confusion, where women do not know even what they actually want, they end up losing their potential suitors.
Innocent girls like Daisy Miller get their world to be destroyed by the complexities of the world. Most of the women are portrayed as being naïve to the American social scene especially in Europe. Fascinations, antics and puzzling behaviors are what dominate their characters (Henry, pg 234). They have an outward innocence combined with charm and beauty that most of the time misleads men. While the literature brings out the feminine nature of the story considering that the women have and experience freedom, it depicts them as people who are completely cognizant of the specific rules that dictate their Social positions.
The youthfulness, beauty and even vitality, all turn out to be foils for Daisy. She makes more and even grave social mistakes. Girls are depicted as being oblivious with their ineffectual parental guidance being the reason behind it. Even when protected by the male figures, the female figures are portrayed to always choose the fatal errors unknowingly just to prove a point. This piece offers a rare juxtaposition of males and females where the former are portrayed as forthright and genuine in matters of relationship and feelings. The former on the other hand present a vexing set of contradictions that make it easy for them to attract condemnation and appreciation at the same time! The illness that eventually killed Daisy is figuratively used to represent contaminated sex and even social disfavor that followed Daisy.
It is a light way of euphemistically saying that Daisy apparently took most of her time having sexual escapades with Italian men. In this 'study', the prevailing culture looks at sexuality as a form of disease, which if left uncontrolled to a certain point, becomes fatal the way it claimed Daisy. It is therefore brought out that while Daisy liked Winterbourne, she never engaged with him partly because he was not culturally crooked the way she was. Initially, Winterbourne thought that Daisy was the type of woman no young man would be at pains to respect. However, at the time, he realized that the diagnosis was wrong; the patient (Daisy) was already dead!