Thursday, March 8, 2007

Singularly Honest And Fresh

Journal No. 12
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Henry James

From "Daisy Miller: A Study"

I. "...he saw that this glance was perfectly direct and unshrinking. It was not, however, what would have been called an immodest glance, for the young girl's eyes were singularly honest and fresh."

II. Henry James is describing what Winterbourne finds unique and refreshing about this new young lady that he has just met. Winterbourne finds that her behavior is unexpected at first, but certainly admired by her observer.

III. Ms. Miller is introduced to the reader as a young lady who dresses in all of the "latest" fashions and trends while not seeming to mind one bit if someone steals a glance her way. She is presented as a material woman who prefers to have a young man tripping over his own words just to get closer to her. At this point in James' story, Winterbourne is learning a very small part of Daisy's personality. She has so much more complexity than jus the direct stares and the "honesty" in her eyes. Winterbourne might have seen these things in the beginning as a symbol of how complex she might become later on in their strange relationship. If he had been able to figure out more of who she was, he might have saved himself many days of confusion and hurt. Winterbourne, however, is absolutely enamored with the young lady right from the start, noticing that her pretty features were nothing below the standards of feminine beauty. If Winterbourne had been able to see anything beyond Daisy's superficial offerings, he might have at some point noticed that Daisy really wanted his affection more than anyone else's. I wonder what might have happened if Winterbourne had realized that she "wanted" him in the beginning. Would she have been off galavanting with Giovanelli? She might have never even met him. Instead, she might have been inside on the sofa next to Winterbourne in front of a warm fireplace on the night that she caught the Roman fever.


Scott said...

20 points. It's the what-ifs that always hurt the most, you know.