Perception of Women in Daisy Miller, by Henry James

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.16.00 PM

Henry James’ Daisy Miller brings up many questions about the presentation of women during a different time period. Seemingly set in the late 19th century, Henry James directs the reader’s attention to how women of that time were viewed, especially because of their perceived sexual attitudes. Daisy Miller envelops all of the qualities of a flirtatious girl, during a time when this was absolutely socially unacceptable. We see the direct result of this in the unfamiliarity of this demeanor, and the frustration that it brings, in Winterbourne’s character. Daisy’s flirtatiousness, and her opinion on her perceived reputation are highlighted when James writes “‘Does Mr. Winterbourne think,’ she asked slowly, smiling, throwing back her head, and glancing at him from head to foot, ‘that, to save my reputation, I ought to get into the carriage?’” (Norton C, 446).  Furthermore, her effect on Winterbourne is emphasized when James describes how “Winterbourne colored; for an instant he hesitated greatly. It seemed so strange to hear her speak that way of her ‘reputation’” (Norton C, 446). James contributes an extremely significant story to a collection of some of the greatest literary works in history, largely because he introduces questions of sexuality and reputation of women during a time when the world had a very narrow view of how a woman should and should not act.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *