1. How does the art of fiction reflect itself in Henry James’s Daisy Miller?


explain the way the author translate his own theory on the novel into a fictive narration. One of the main points Henry James introduces in “The art of fiction” (published in September 1884) is that “It (the novel) must take itself seriously for the public to take it so” (James). For him, the novel should not be reputed artistic, but “very artistic”. And therefore, it should not be humble in its attempt to compete with life. For James it is also absolutely necessary that, in this attempt to reproduce life, the novel be completely free to feel and say. Its only requirement is that of be “interesting”, and it will success only in the measure it achieves to “reveal a particular mind, different from others”. Thus, in Henry James’s view, the novel is “a personal impression of life”, whose value will derive from the intensity of the impression. “One can speak best from one’s own taste, and I may therefore venture to say that the air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue of a novel—the merit on which all its other merits (including that conscious moral purpose of which Mr. Besant speaks) helplessly and submissively depend. If it be not there, they are all as nothing, and if these be there, they owe their effect to the success with which the author has produced the illusion of life. The cultivation of this success, the study of this exquisite process, form, to my taste, the beginning and the end of the art of the novelist.” (James) The novel for Henry James is “a living thing” all connected, where every single element fulfils a function and has its purpose in relation to the whole. Therefore the only valid classification of the novel is into “good novels” and “bad novels”- into “the interesting” and “the uninteresting”- any further division is absolutely artificial- such as the old fashion distinction between the novel of character and the novel of incident, and the equally celebrated distinction between the romance and the novel. “I cannot imagine composition existing in a series of blocks, nor conceive, in any novel worth discussing at all, of a passage of description that is not in its intention narrative, a passage of dialogue that is not in its intention descriptive, a touch of truth of any sort that does not partake of the nature of incident, and an incident that derives its interest from any other source than the general and only source of the success of a work of art—that of being

consequently. of being competing with life itself. nor moral exemplars. Daisy Miller: a study. so is Winterbourne. successes” (James). social context. all one and continuous. A novel is a living thing. I think. She behaves as if she was in America. I fear. etc. secondly. but this kind of behaviour is not accepted within the rigid European society. It primarily deals with ordinary characters: they are neither god-like. In fact. just like we do in life.) contributes to complete them.is a reflection of that freedom of experimentation. characters and incidents are very much like real life. However. he achieves to provide a psychological profile of the characters. neither do we. most conversations and incidents are rather ambiguous. And not only Daisy is a character difficult to grab.-and as the title suggests. like every other organism. discoveries. On the other hand. not as an omniscient narrator. Daisy may “seem innocent”. consequently. however she is judged negatively as she does not follow the rules of behaviour applied in Europe. The ultimate function of the novel for Henry James is no longer that of being instructive or amusing. their speeches. characters usually allow more than one interpretation. Secondly the incidents taking place are not extraordinary either. but because everything (incidents. Thus. who at first liked . He does it in two senses: firstly he achieves to represent the American and European cultures (and the clash between them).” (James) This same consciousness of being creating a work of art.illustrative. dialogues.giving us access to the character’s thoughts-. Here characters are complex not because the narrator provides us with long descriptions about their complexity. Winterbourne does not know how to judge Daisy’s behaviour. we get to know them through their actions. that in each of the parts there is something of each of the other parts. The social context is very pervasive in the way characters are going to be interpreted. and therefore there are no limits to the possible “experiments. as any that have been known to history. Winterbourne. In his works he achieves in this way to “compete with life” very much as a painter does. and of creative freedom is reflected in Henry James’s works. and in proportion as it lives will it be found. efforts. Daisy Miller is a novel characterized by its social and psychological realism. The critic who over the close texture of a finished work will pretend to trace a geography of items will mark some frontiers as artificial. or more that their actions. but.

and presented in the past as cultural “maps” of American and European cultures. and therefore. we can have the illusion that “we have had a miraculous enlargement of experience” (Kreiswirth) .Daisy. finally align the puritan standards of behaviours and rejects Daisy’s conduct. And his works compete with life in the way they present to us as a window to the past. therefore. He experiments with realism. To sum it up. not because they are necessarily special. through his “informing consciousness”. and he knew American and European cultures very well. but because his solidity of specification bring them to life. and despite he is also American (although he has been living in Europe for a long time). and in this way competes with life. He represents common people and social contexts in a way they spring out and transcend the pages they belong to. he feels absolutely free to experiment. Henry James translates his own theory into his novellas in the way he is absolutely conscious he is creating a work of art. For Henry James “the deepest quality of a work of art will always be the quality of the mind of the producer”(James).

Daisy’s character allows different interpretations: She can be regarded as consciously rejecting the European social stiffness and hypocrisy. Winterbourne expresses Daisy “seems innocent”. to have reflected upon her ostracism. Daisy ambiguous character is developed throughout the entire novel. and that her behaviour was not representative of her compatriots. he was vexed at his want of instinctive certitude as to how far her eccentricities were generic. or as an unmannered . because they have stopped inviting her since they have made up their minds that Daisy was going “too far”. too provincial. essentially. Winterbourne wonders about Daisy’s real nature: if her rebellious character is the product of a defiant passion. or of recklessness. a young person of the reckless class. but she might as well be!” Then. Daisy’s true nature remains uncertain.” This scene takes place after Winterbourne goes to see Mrs Miller. He asked himself whether Daisy’s defiance came from the consciousness of innocence. Therefore. too uncultivated and unreasoning. One ambiguity promoted through the whole novel is the ambiguity of Daisy Miller’s character as the following scene illustrates: “Winterbourne wondered how she felt about all the cold shoulders that were turned toward her. But.He said to himself that she was too light and childish. the narrator relates that Winterbourne ceases to meet Daisy at their common acquaintances’ houses.2. Does Daisy behave deliberately? Or does she really posses a very innocent nature? In this way. both to Winterbourne and to the reader. perfectly observant consciousness of the impression she produced. we mainly learn about her through the perceptions of others: Their commentaries and opinions about her behaviour. The narrator never expresses Daisy’s mind directly. Accordingly. or from her being. in the selected scene. Then at other moments he believed that she carried about in her elegant and irresponsible little organism a defiant. and Winterbourne’s first impressions of her. he was angry at finding himself reduced to chopping logic about this young lady. Thus. and how far they were personal. or even to have perceived it. passionate. She tells him that Daisy is not engage. As I have already had occasion to relate. national. Determine 2 episodes from the novella illustrative of James’s promotion of ambiguity and explain how they enrich interpretation. and sometimes it annoyed him to suspect that she did not feel at all. and Mrs Costello declares Daisy “is very common” and “a dreadful girl”. It must be admitted that holding one’s self to a belief in Daisy’s “innocence” came to seem to Winterbourne more and more a matter of fine-spun gallantry.

thank goodness. This ambiguity in Daisy’s character also becomes productive in the way it contributes to realism: her character does allow multiple interprettions. "Of course they are." said Winterbourne gravely. either. Daisy ambiguous character enriches interpretation in the way it represents a clash between two cultures. am not a young lady of this country. “ “About the streets?” cried Daisy with her pretty stare. They talked about Daisy’s going out for a stroll bearing a man’s company. and she is judged accordingly. She has little conversation with Winterbourne while Giovanelli is singing to the guests. but I wish you would flirt with me. Giovanelli. Henry James fundamental theme was that of “an innocent. uncultivation. Walker’s house accompanied by Mr. as both. It gives place to subjectivities. which is." said Winterbourne. Thus." . she is visiting a foreign culture. and I. just like people do in life. unreasoning." "I am afraid your habits are those of a flirt. In the selected scene. can judge her under their own parameters. "If I could have the sweet hope of making you angry. and democratic America confronting the worldly wisdom and corruption of Europe’s older aristocratic culture” (Edel). The second selected scene takes place in chapter 2. frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not? But I suppose you will tell me now that I am not a nice girl." said Winterbourne. you are too stiff. so far as I can learn. then." she cried. where differend social codes are being applied. "I'm a fearful." "You say that too often. Daisy has come to the meeting at Mrs. the readers and the other characters in the novel. a feature proper of a flirt." "You're a very nice girl. I don't see why I should change my habits for THEM. As I have had the pleasure of informing you. you are the last man I should think of flirting with. exuberant. nobody pays attention to their arrival. would he have proposed to her to walk? The Pincio is not the streets. Daisy gave a delighted laugh. Winterbourne does not know if Daisy’s reprehensible behaviour comes from innocence. Innocent or rebel as she might be. according to Winterbourne’s beliefs. "Where. The young ladies of this country have a dreadfully poky time of it. and me only. or if it comes from “a defiant passionate perfectly observant consciousness”. I should say it again. "Ah! Thank you—thank you very much. But the ultimate fact is that Daisy is an American girl. giving him her little smiling stare again.reckless “unable to going by the custom of the place”.

he turns to be a man who is constantly keeping an eye on the American girl’s behavior towards the Italian man. to flirt with your friend at the piano. up to this point in the action we may suppose that Winterbourne is in love with Daisy or. there are signs of ironic commentaries on one another that are not so easy to get as we may think. or perhaps she was really interested in Winterbourne. in this scene. when I am angry I'm stiffer than ever. again. He seems to be interested in her. he “whishes” that Daisy could flirt with.” Winterbourne absorbs European culture and he becomes a sort of “moral guide” to Daisy though she does not take into account what he says to her. the fact that she bothers to dissipate this rumor. Despite the fact that Winterbourne thinks she is a “flirt”. at least. do cease. he wants to be with her. This ambiguous feeling is made stronger at the ending. It is something that is never made clear in the story. ambiguous. Daisy makes clear to Winterbourne that she never had an affair with Giovanelli. However. he is ironic when he says to her “Don't forget Eugenio's pills!” (James 53). throughout the story. Winterbourne means to be ironic but. at least. they don't understand that sort of thing here. in our own perspective. readers do not know whether he is in love with her or not. Daisy does not like Winterbourne because he is “too stiff”. But if you won't flirt with me. So. In a way. before she dies. and only with him -“(…) but I wish you would flirt with me. and when he learns about the presence of Giovanelli. . and me only. where Winterbourne does not care what may happen to Daisy and." ” (James 43) The way in which Winterbourne mixes with Daisy is. During the course of the story she remarks this rigid quality of the man which is associated with his European moral beliefs. On the other hand. especially to Winterbourne. Nevertheless. they were never engaged as many people supposed."Don't do that. is confusing. In terms of plot. he likes her. Perhaps their friendship was so strong that she felt the obligation to do what she did.

the characters return to tradition. it is noticeable the disenchantment with the established Victorian tradition which. is the way in which natural phenomena corresponds to the actions or feelings of the characters. For mutually exclusive we intend that characters do not follow their instincts completely. as a main theme. the influence of human beings’ own nature-their impulses-on their decisions. after having followed them. In the three selected short stories. formally speaking. and to make the story and the actions more ambiguous. we do not know if they are inserted in tradition completely or if they are placed in it but also following their impulses . in this case. However. unlike Henry James’ novellas. . The characters in her short stories make their choices both following tradition and following what is referred to as “the influence of Darwin’s ideas on sexual desire and love”(Horner 134). we could discern. they are. The Kiss. we are unable to get to a specific interpretation of these endings since characters leave an “open door” in their final choices. A Respectable Woman. ambiguous resolutions. in order to fulfill the disenchantment.S. the way in which women face marital infidelities. So. Those choices are mainly made at the end of the stories and they are not mutually exclusive.Choose 3 stories by Kate Chopin (other than those discussed in class): what common topic can you discern in them? How is this topic developed and diversified in the stories? In other words. . as readers. Chopin leaves endings to be freely interpreted. in our opinion. is the main concern. “Infidelity” would be a sort of label to make a contrast between what has been named as Victorian tradition and Darwinian ideas. And.3.Elliot in which the exterior world (the physical world) reflects the mood of the character. Chopin’s main resource is the irony. This topic is going to be mainly focused in the way in which Chopin develops the ideas in terms of literary language. and The Storm. In her works. The interesting thing about Kate Chopin. how do these topics gain thematic relevance? Kate Chopin has been considered a modernist writer by most of the critics. to their husbands and children. there is much ambiguity lying in the action of the character rather than in his/her nature itself. Alfred Prufrock by T. which is named as “correspondence”. This is very similar to what happens in The Love Song of J.

As readers. he is under her decisions. which is also present in The Storm. she is puzzled by his nature that makes her to be overwhelmed by him. we can infer that it was spring season in the story– because of the “live oak tree” (the oak trees flower in spring) – so what Baroda feels is correlative with the physical exterior: heat starts to make itself noticeable and so Baroda is. Then. she feels more passion than when she is married. in Calixta’s neck. he indulges his wife all the time and.The marriage of Baroda and Gaston in A Respectable Woman is quite a common one. It is interesting. Thus. in using the covering Baroda is recognizing this authority on her. An interesting feature. In the particular case of Baroda. but tradition. somehow they revive those strong feelings. Then. stops her from the impulsiveness as she thinks that she could have done anything “out of the law” if she had not been a . again. The colour white may be used as a symbol of purity in the sense of virginity in the maiden days of these women. however. she chooses to follow her instincts. with men who are not precisely their husbands. She wants to avoid any confused thought so she goes away in order to calm herself and to cold her sexual desire for Gouvernail. her husband sends a scarf to her: a scarf is a piece of fabric that women use to cover their heads and necks. she goes out of her house until Gouvernail is gone for her to get this overwhelming feeling out of her. in the marital bed of Calixta and Bobinot. the fact that Chopin only attaches this colour to women that makes the idea of purity to have sense. she “let it lie in her lap” which may be a symbol of not wanting to obey that is. He generates sexual tension between Baroda and himself. Baroda. in her conversation with Gouvernail at night. the Holy Bible says that it is the duty of a woman to use a sort of veil on her head to show that she is under the authority of men (1 Corinthians 11:7-10). However. to mention some. Traditionally. is the whiteness of things: in Baroda’s scarf. The fact that her husband sends to her this scarf may be the way of Gaston to implicitly remind Baroda that she is married and she has to “obey” him. Baroda feels more attraction for this man when he does not pay so much attention to her absence. in a way. also. now. so she wants to make herself plain to him by accompanying him. feels the impulse of getting physically closed to Gouvernail. the sole presence of Gouvernail breaks her routinary life for this guest is not like other men. When a woman is a maiden. before they get married.

In The Storm.as in The Storm. in fact. Harvy. This is the point where the door remains open for the reader: we do not know if she has stopped feeling sexual desire for Gouvernail or if she plans to have an affair with him the next time he visits the couple. Chopin makes in Baroda to be aware of the “self” who has to fight alone in this turmoil of choices when she says that “(…)there are some battles in life which a human being must fight alone. she supposedly left behind any affair with Mr. they are given by the “graceful plants” against the shadowy corridor. Then. the story starts with a shadowy scene. The concept of correspondence is strongly presented in The Kiss. Despite the fact that she follows tradition in marrying Brantain.” She fights. As their sexual . and The Storm to fulfill the purpose of showing the inner feelings of women-as in the case of The Kiss. the room has its curtains drawn. In fact. the two choices Baroda has to make appear: man and sexual pleasure and. Calixta follows her instincts because her sexual desire for Alceé comes from since she was a maiden. but a sexual desire and. it seems that she has not overcome it. her fiancé. she felt sexual attraction for Mr. In The Kiss. and her passion and sexuality is quite tied to the storm. Harvey.respectable woman. in order to get married with the wealthy man. This is the reason why she apologises herself to Brantain for the kiss received from Mr. a friend of her and her brother. Harvey. Although Nathalie was not married to Brantain. The scene of the dim corridor with the graceful plants shows the forgiveness of Nathalie and the dissipation of non-demonstrated interests in one another. on the other side. the room is dark. Probably. as well as the case of Baroda. and finally she overcomes her “dislike” for Gouvernail which is quite ironic: her dislike is. The “smouldering fire” is the kind of fire that does not have flames. At this point. a relationship that is not passionate.and to correspond the extra-marital sexual intercourse to the natural phenomenon. Brantain had an unexpressed interest for Nathalie that has surpassed him which is mainly represented by the shadows in the room: he did neither care of it nor of his hidden interest. and there is a fire that does not heat nor light the room. the passion they have is that passion absent in Calixta’s marriage. It represents the cold relationship with Brantain. what is expected from her as a wife. it seems she does not leave her “nature” of following her impulses. Nathalie felt financial attraction for Brantain for he is a wealthy man.

the resolution of the story is open. The traditional is present to remind them of their duties as husband and wife.intercourse draws on. it is an ironic placement of Clarisse in the story since she is. happy. It is not about rebellion. but they are so passionate that they cannot stop their natural instincts. in part V. they did not. It could be said that. The storm also is a symbol of the anger of God because of this infidelity from both characters. Though we could have thought that they chose one option. Alceé’s wife. again. in the same position as Calixta. as she is not a pivotal character in the story. it is a combination of both elements what makes them be. which coincides with the end of the sexual relation. but in the three stories there is always a second reading of what they say at the end. . in fact. when the narrator says “Devoted as she was to her husband. And. these three women are directed in very different ways when it comes to have an extra-marital affair and the importance it acquires in the development of the story is very important. their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while”. they have to evaluate different options. in a way. As the narrator mentions her in the discourse and. In order to make a “final” choice in their lives. They could not choice just tradition or just impulsiveness. the storm intensifies until everything is calmed. and she may have also an affair with some man around her. It is an interesting issue what happens with Clarisse. we may suspect her of being really calmed or not. The description of Alceé’s wife is of a calmed woman who is very devoted to her husband. As Horner says “The message of Chopin’s writing seems to be that each of these narratives makes sense of life in a particular way but they can all be imprisoning if used as the sole explanation and driver of human behaviour” (135). To sum up.

January 2012 <http://www. Feedbooks." 1879. Reviewed by Barry Hite. The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin (Edited by Janet Beer). «James Henry.virginia.» The John Hopkins to Literary Theory and Criticism.feedbooks. «"Winterbourne and the Doom of Manhood in Daisy Miller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 419-423. Hite.» 1996.References - James. - - - .com/people/henry-james-9352584?page=5#assessment." by Robert Weisbuch. 2008. Leon. Horner. "Kate Chopin. «The Art of Fiction. Avril. Martin. Henry. Edel. «bio. London: The John Hopkins University Press.» January 2012 <http://people.>. Kreiswirth. choice and modernism. Henry. January 2012 <http://www." Toth.com>.edu/~sfr/enam312/enam712/hite. Barry.biography. et al. "Daisy Miller.html>.True Story. 1994. Emily.» Longman's Magazine 4 (1884). James.

Universidad de Chile Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades Licenciatura en Lengua y Literatura Inglesas Literatura de la Especialidad V Psychological Realism: Henry James & Kate Chopin Students: Daniela Mundaca María Teresa Lobos Prof. 2012 . January. Andrés Ferrada Date: 11th.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful