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Daisy Miller
Henry James


A STEP BEYOND

TESTS AND ANSWERS

TEST

_____ 1. The central intelligence in Daisy Miller is

    A. Winterbourne
    B. Daisy
    C. Mrs. Costello
_____ 2. Daisy behaves as she does because she
    A. wants to shock the American snobs in Europe
    B. is trying to attract Winterbourne's attention
    C. simply chooses not to conform
_____ 3. Winterbourne does not understand Daisy's American ways because
    A. he is European
    B. he has been living in Europe too long
    C. she is not like his cousins who live in New York
_____ 4. The character whose function is that of "confidant" is
    A. Winterbourne
    B. Daisy
    C. Mrs. Costello
_____ 5. When Daisy asks Winterbourne to take her out in a boat, Mrs. Miller is shocked by
    A. the prospect of her going out at such a late hour
    B. Eugenio's advice to her daughter
    C. the prospect of her going out unchaperoned with a young man
_____ 6. The character most upset by Daisy's plans to go to Chillon alone with Winterbourne is
    A. Winterbourne's aunt
    B. her mother
    C. her family's courier
_____ 7. Before she dies, Daisy sends a message to
    A. Giovanelli
    B. Winterbourne
    C. Mrs. Walker
_____ 8. When he spies her at the Colosseum with Giovanelli, Winterbourne's interest in Daisy's behavior becomes
    A. intellectual
    B. fraternal
    C. emotional
_____ 9. Daisy is sensitive enough to realize, without being told, that
    A. Winterbourne is in love with her
    B. Mrs. Costello has refused to meet her
    C. Mrs. Walker is angry with her
_____ 10. Henry James called Daisy Miller a
    A. diversion
    B. novel
    C. nouvelle

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?

ANSWERS

  1. A
  2. C
  3. B
  4. C
  5. A
  6. A
  7. B
  8. A
  9. B
  10. C

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.

[Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw Contents]


TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING

  • ON CHARACTERS
    1. Daisy Miller is often hailed as an archetypical or model American character, like Huck Finn. Discuss the character traits that make her a typical American.
    2. Discuss the nature of Daisy's relationship with Giovanelli.
    3. Some readers see Winterbourne as Henry James himself. Do you agree? What support can you give this view? If you disagree, explain why.
    4. Compare the character of Mrs. Costello in Daisy Miller to that of Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw
  • ON TECHNIQUE
    1. Discuss the use of the central intelligence in Henry James's fiction. Give examples from the text of Daisy Miller.
    2. Is James's use of foreshadowing in Daisy Miller successful? Some readers say it is heavy-handed. Others say it is ultimately unsuccessful only because Daisy's punishment does not fit her crime. What do you think?
  • ON SETTING
    1. What is the relationship between structure and setting in Daisy Miller?
    2. How does the Miller family reflect life in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s? How does this influence your judgment of Daisy?
  • ON THEMES
    1. Explain the conflict between appearance and reality in Daisy Miller.
    2. Discuss Daisy Miller with respect to James's "international theme."
    3. What is the battle of heart vs. head in Daisy Miller?
  • ON HENRY JAMES
    1. Discuss Henry James as a moralist.
    2. Daisy Miller was James's most successful work of the 1870s; The Turn of the Screw was his most successful of the 1890s. In what ways is each tale characteristic of a certain period in his career?
    3. Some readers think Henry James changed his feelings about Daisy during the course of her story. What do you think, and why?

REFERENCE
THE STORY


ECC [Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

© Copyright 1986 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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