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A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
_____ 1. The central intelligence in Daisy Miller is
C. Mrs. Costello
B. is trying to attract Winterbourne's attention
C. simply chooses not to conform
B. he has been living in Europe too long
C. she is not like his cousins who live in New York
C. Mrs. Costello
B. Eugenio's advice to her daughter
C. the prospect of her going out unchaperoned with a young man
B. her mother
C. her family's courier
C. Mrs. Walker
B. Mrs. Costello has refused to meet her
C. Mrs. Walker is angry with her
11. Discuss James's use of the "central intelligence" in Daisy Miller.
12. How do places influence the behavior of the characters in Daisy Miller?
11. The term "central intelligence" is used frequently in discussing Henry James's works to describe the character through whose eyes the events of the story are seen. In Daisy Miller, this character is Frederick Winterbourne. Although he doesn't narrate the story, you see everything from his point of view. There is no scene in which he is not present.
Having Winterbourne as Daisy Miller's central intelligence has a profound effect on the story. You see Daisy through his eyes: because he thinks she is pretty, you think she is; because he thinks she's uncultured, you think she is that too; because her mixture of innocence and boldness puzzles him, it puzzles you.
However, one of the most important facts about the characters called central intelligences is that they have their own sets of biases. They are not always reliable judges of what is going on around them. Winterbourne, for example, sees Daisy through a set of prejudices that has developed from his years of residence among the fashionable circles of Europe. As a result, he believes her flirting is dangerous and her friendship with Giovanelli possibly immoral. Because you're seeing Daisy mostly through his eyes, you may well begin by sharing his suspicions. Gradually, however, James makes you realize that Winterbourne may not be seeing clearly. Thus, at the end of the book you realize- as Winterbourne does himself- that he was entirely wrong about Daisy: she was an innocent girl. In this way, the story is almost as much about the development and failings of Winterbourne's powers of judgment as it is about Daisy. It's for that reason that the idea of the central intelligence is so important to the story.
12. Daisy Miller is the first of James's writings to deal with what is generally called the international theme- the confrontation between Americans and Europeans. The influence of place is enormously strong. Perhaps the most important fact about Daisy is that she is American- and is therefore open, optimistic, and democratic but lacking the knowledge, culture, and sophistication of the Europeans among whom she travels. Equally important is the fact that Winterbourne, though born in America, was educated in Europe. As a result, he shares the European concerns for fine manners and for a rigid code of social behavior.
Daisy Miller can be seen as a clash between places. America- as represented by the Millers of Schenectady, New York- is newly rich and powerful, energetic, democratic, but rude, vulgar, and ignorant. Europe- as represented by Americans who have go thoroughly accustomed themselves to living abroad that they've become almost more European than the Europeans- is cultured and elegant but perhaps overly sophisticated, and even on occasion cruel. The clash between the two continents occurs mainly over matters of social behavior. Such actions as treating one's courier like a friend instead of like a servant, or visiting the Colosseum unchaperoned seem friendly and democratic to Americans like the Millers. To the Europeans and the Europeanized Americans they seem vulgar, even dangerous.
James also wants you to notice the difference between different places within Europe. As a resort town catering largely to Americans, Vevey is rather a halfway point between America and Europe. Social restrictions exist but they can be bent, as when Winterbourne allows himself to talk with Daisy without a formal introduction. Rome, on the other hand, is portrayed as being somber and weighted down with strict rules of social behavior. Influenced by Roman attitudes, Winterbourne becomes a much harsher judge of Daisy than he was in Vevey.
TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING
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