Daisy Miller

2444 WordsDec 8, 201110 Pages
Alexander Jack Papetsas AP Senior English Assignment: James’ use of Ambiguity in Daisy Miller and theme Ambiguity Conveys Theme in James’ Daisy Miller In the novella, Daisy Miller by Henry James, the complexities of social conventions, gender stereotyping and conformity are exposed through the actions and words of the protagonists. Daisy Miller is the young woman who invites a multitude of speculation regarding her personality and behavior. James creates ambiguity around Daisy as an insightful glimpse into the harsh social expectations of the day. Daisy is outgoing and forthright, desires attention, and strays into an area that is considered unbecoming of a young woman traveling in Europe.…show more content…
James’ ambiguity extends to Daisy’s use of the word ‘exclusive’ and furthers his attempt to delineate the differences between the wealthy and privileged Daisy and the other well-indulged women around her. This word exclusive has a double meaning, one of which connotes snobbery and aloofness. The other connotation means stylish and fashionable. When Daisy speaks about Winterbourne’s Aunt she is emphatic in her assessment of Mrs. Costello’s ‘exclusive’ nature, “I want to know her very much… She would be very exclusive…I’m dying to be exclusive myself. Well, we are exclusive, mother and I…” (1178). Daisy is almost giddy in her exchange with Winterbourne and her desire to meet Mrs. Costello despite the fact that Mrs. Costello’s opinion of her is something completely different, “They are the sort of Americans that one does one’s duty by not- not accepting” (1175). Daisy has grown up in an exclusive world which has, to an extent, excluded her from communicating with everyone acceptably, but which has allowed her to be stylish and enjoy the fashions of Paris that she loves. The ambiguous meaning of this exchange with Winterbourne serves to set Daisy apart from the small minded Mrs. Costello who refuses a meeting with her. This fact does not upset Daisy in the least; she actually seems to admire the fact that Mrs. Costello is so ‘exclusive’ in her actions. This forgiving demeanor of Daisy is a stark contrast to the elder women who
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