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Brooklyn is in NYC!

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This is my modern twist on Daisy Miller: A Study in Two Parts by Henry James.  As we have read in class one of the themes of Daisy Miller is this idea of Old Money vs. New Money. Even though Daisy is rich in Schenectady, New York she is not on the same status of someone who is European Rich.  I recently moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn so this is my take on how because I am from Brooklyn now I am beneath someone who lives in Manhattan.  I hope I conveyed this and that all of you enjoy my video.

The whole concept of the interview idea was inspired by Zach Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns on www.FunnyorDie.com

I must thank my friend Daniel Collins for helping me out in this video.  He is not as snotty as he makes himself seem like in the video. I think he is truly the star of the video.

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Remembering all great tragedies

I think we all get kinda sad when a lovable character dies but picture if they had lived. Daisy Miller would have probably been raped because some gentlemen from Europe society would have thought she  was asking for it. Gatsby would have been in jail or still stalking Daisy. Can you imagine Romeo and Juliet playing house at the tender age of 17? Yeah death is peaceful…for other people.

4 responses so far

American Pride in Daisy Miller

While reading the story, I noticed that America is portrayed as the amazing place where everything is better. Yet it is also portrayed as being dangerous because the girls are sneaky flirts.

I find Randolph to be an interesting character in the Novela but people don’t pay as much attention to him. I think Randolph symbolizes the American pride as he constantly brags about American things like candy as being the best. He constantly shows of about his father’s wealth. Finally he hates every place that they visit and thinks that America is the best.

I also have the feeling that Europeans in the past did not have a positive view of America and specifically American girls. When Winterbourne finds out Daisy’s behavior in Italy, he remembers his friend saying that pretty American girls “are the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness.” In other words they make excessive demands when they have nothing to give in return.

I think old Europe was just jealous at the fact that America was young and fresh and people could do whatever they wished that’s why they had these negative views. I think some of they wished they could enjoy the same kind of freedom instead of sticking to old boring rules. What do you guys think?

One response so far

A Delayed Reaction to Daisy Miller

Technical difficulties prevented me from posting my musings on this book when they were actually relevant, but here is what I thought anyway. Studies can give way to incorrect conclusions.Winterbourne’s characterization of Daisy was a futile attempt to decode an intriguing girl who would not allow herself to be labeled simply as “an American flirt”. The story is biased, colored by Winterbourne’s jealousy and patronizing nature. Though the study is not from Winterbourne’s perspective directly, the narrative is strongly influenced by his internal thoughts, and no one else’s. Therefore, taking Winterbourne’s side is not something I can easily do. If the story were told from Daisy’s perspective, or even a more objective point of view, we might feel more sympathy and understanding. If we didn’t see Winterbourne’s inner monologue, for example, he would simply seem like a kind man trying to romance Miss Miller. However, by seeing his calculating nature, it is apparent that he is not interested in Daisy for Daisy’s sake. As some of my classmates have already realized, he is interested in placing women into categories, and is only comfortable when he can put them in their place. Admitting to himself that Daisy may just be a free spirit that acts on her own impulses rather than societal standards is frightening and uncomfortable for him; it means she cannot easily be controlled. There is no formula for dealing with her. Winterbourne’s realization that there is no such formula colors his views on her and her actions, and therefore the readers as well. Rather than believing that Giovanelli is the better man, he sees him as unclean, uncourteous, and uncivilized. “Why did you take her to this fatal place?” From this point of view, it is easy to see Giovanelli as irresponsible and uncaring. However, who is Winterbourne to say that she was taken? Daisy wanted to go, in the same way that she wanted to go to the castle with Winterbourne earlier in the book. However, Winterbourne tries to prevent the reader from seeing it this way. We see it from his calculating eyes, in which no woman can conceivably act of her own volition. But if we look at Giovanelli, he did nothing but treat Daisy as more of an equal. He allowed her to make her own decisions. He did not treat her as if she were fragile, unlike Winterbourne. Daisy saw this, saw what she was to him: something to analyze and try to correct, and she had far too much pride to allow herself to belong to him. He didn’t deserve her; he would have ruined her. And so her death was a better fate than ending up with Winterbourne or anyone like him (the majority of men during that time).  It was a final display of power over her own path, because at least she died as a result of her own stubbornness rather than succumbing to anyone elses.

2 responses so far

Gossip in Daisy Miller

Upon completing this book, I figured it was one of my most disliked books that I have read in my entire life. As Professor Eversley always begs us to ask questions when reading, I asked myself why I felt this way. Similar to what one of our classmates said in class yesterday, I felt I didn’t care about the result when the book ended. Even more so, I had to question what the author’s purpose in writing this story was. It seemed to be a rather pointless tale of an American flirt who is being criticized by pretentious American born Europeans for being unlady like. But at the end of the day, who really cares?

From here I had an epiphany that this was the exact point Henry James was trying to make. Who really cares? As we mentioned in class yesterday, a major theme of this text is that of gossip.  Everyone is discussing Daisy’s behaviors and judging her accordingly. Even the story itself is a piece of gossip- in the Notes on the Texts section of the book it reports that, “The source of ‘Daisy Miller’ was an anecdote that James heard in Rome during the autumn of 1877” (pg. xxix). James reports the story in a sort of nonchalant attitude that makes readers believe he doesn’t know or care about the validity of this story, so why is he presenting it to us? In my opinion, it seems he is criticizing this behavior, telling us that we shouldn’t really care what other people are doing in their lives, and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the behaviors of others. We all formed opinions of Daisy based on the description provided for us, but we know that she was intended to be the hero of this story. Henry James is a realist—he portrays his characters as they are, with no embellishments. Yet his intent wasn’t to criticize Daisy, but to defend her, as a young innocent girl just trying to live her life the best way she sees fit. And when she dies, no one cares. Not only did we, the audience members, not care, but the characters in the book don’t even care! It just seems amazing to me that people could spend so much time gossiping about a girl only for her to die and leave them completely unaffected by her death. But I think this is what James is attacking afterall- the behaviors of the pretentious upper-class Europeans, gossiping and dwelling into the lives of others who they remain unaffected by.

Any thoughts?

-Christine

264 responses so far

Thoughts on Daisy Miller

My honest opinion of Daisy Miller is that she is a flirt/tease. In chapter 2 it almost seems like she behaves the way she does for shock value. When she asks Winterbourne to take her out on a boat at night she doesn’t even move as if she is serious. Then when Eugenio told her to do as she pleases she says “Oh I hoped you’d make a fuss! I don’t care to go now.” I wouldn’t consider her promiscuous because I don’t think that is her intention. She likes to push limits. She’s like her younger brother. She’s pretty childish and she’s blunt. She says she likes men who are gentlemen and that’s probably because she can play with them more. On the trip to the castle with Winterbourne she just toys with him and says things to get a reaction from him to amuse herself. For some reason I imagine the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” plays wherever she goes and a montage of her doing shocking things and people standing with their mouths agape.

Something I noticed was that in chapter 1 when Daisy is talking about Randolph not wanting to see castles but only wanting to stay in the hotel she excuses his behavior by saying he’s nine. Then in chapter 2 when Mrs. Miller is talking about him being tiresome the excuse is once again that he is only nine. If he’s only nine why does he have so much freedom to tell people what he will do or not do?

Winterbourne keeps mentioning her “innocence” and the fact that she’s “uneducated” when describing her as if that justifies the things Daisy does. But I don’t think he means real innocence but more like naivete or rather her indifference to social rules. And how much can he really like someone who he describes as “prattling”? She sounds very lively to put it kindly. I think she sounds annoying. She says whatever she feels like and she just has this capricious nature that I find intolerable. In the castle he says that her conversation topics jump from one to another without consistency. She is a contrary and contradicting person. He mentions when fist meeting her, in Geneva you can’t speak to a pretty, single young woman unchaperoned yet he jumps at the opportunity not believing he could be so lucky. I kind of wonder who is playing whom. He obviously doesn’t think to highly of her. He’s hoping that she’s as easy as she seems but acting gentlemanly about it. It’s a little like in Maggie when Maggie doesn’t kiss Pete and he’s wondering if he just got played.

Lastly I want to say I LOVE the last line of chapter 2 when Mrs. Costello hears that once again Daisy spends time with Winterbourne unsupervised. “‘And that,’ she exclaimed, ‘is the little abomination you wanted me to know!'” If Winterbourne cared anything about Daisy he may keep such details quiet or at least try to defend her but there is no defending her. He instead insults her and calls her uneducated as if that is a “cute” or charming characteristic. Yet to get into Daisy’s “favour” he is willing to throw his aunt under a bus and considers badmouthing her. Also I think what Mrs. Costello says in chapter 3 is very insightful to the ideas of the time and culture: “A man may know everyone. Men are welcome to the priviledge.” It gives a better understanding of why Daisy’s familiarity with people is looked down upon.

   

Comments Off on Thoughts on Daisy Miller

One Confused Read

Hello everyone,
I am just wondering if anyone has any idea what Daisy Miller is about? I mean what is up with Winterbourne’s obsession? He is infatuated with her beauty but he keeps calling her “uneducated.” He seems like a little boy having a spaz attack over his high school crush. I remember this one line where Winterbourne is talking to his aunt and he says “She’s completely uneducated…but she’s wonderfully pretty, and in short she’s very nice” (21). This line just reminded me of one of Hugh Hefner’s “playmates”. They are all vases.

Anyway, am I crazy to say that Henry James is making a comment on the unsophisticated America? Because the book keeps highlighting Daisy’s unrefined nature. There is that scenario about Mrs. Costello’s hatred towards Daisy and “the Americans.” Mrs. Costello can symbolically represent the “old, sophisticated, poised, and elegant” Europe while Daisy represents the “new, young, crud, and uneducated” America. Also, I see a commentary on the emptiness behind external beauty. For an example, Daisy only focuses on her physical beauty, she dresses in the most contemporary styles and in the most elegant dresses. However this is rather distracting. It is almost as if she is overdoing everything. I remember that fan she carried when she was with Winterbourne early in the book. All her extravagance makes her look “cheap.” Like i simply imagine her going to a party dressed in a Louis Vuitton dress with the LV logo all over it. (That’s atrocious!) Also she cannot hold herself like a “true” lady in public. She allows herself to walk freely with two men at her side on the streets. She also plays an active role in the public as well. So, all in all, I think James is pointing at America’s crudity – that even if Americans dress up to LOOK sophisticated, they are, in fact, not.

Am I crazy for making these connections? Please help.

Thanks,
Sandy

One response so far

Hello Everyone!

This semester we’ll read some great works of art together!  This blog is for us to continue our conversation outside of class.  Use it to post whatever idea, image, song, video, poem, rant, etc.  that reminds you of our readings and discussions.  Have fun with your posts and don’t forget to comment on each other’s.  Try and remember to tag/categorize your comments so that when the blog is loaded with posts, we can more easily search for older posts.  Be sure to check in often–you can always find news, updates and supplemental readings right here.

Its going to be a great semester!

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