Daisy Miller, a young woman from Schenectady, New York, arrives in Switzerland with her mother and younger brother to visit her aunt. They are on holiday from the United States where her father is a successful businessman, a member of the nouveau riche. Mrs. Miller wants to try her daughter out on the European social regime which includes complex and detailed layers of conduct by which judgement is rendered on the participants. A certain amount of useful knowledge can protect an innocent from her own vulnerability. Unfortunately, Daisy is spirited but without the ability to curb her quick enthusiasm. She doesn't have the social experience to be unconventional. In Switzerland she meets 27-year-old Frederick Winterbourne who is from America but grew up and was educated in Geneva. When he and Daisy meet at the beginning of the story their behavior is spontaneous, and Winterbourne is drawn by her flirtatious ways. The tale continues as a studious consideration of Daisy through Frederick's eyes. Because he is older and differently schooled he spends his energy trying to decipher her manner and intent. He detects her unwillingness to follow the customary demeanor of other girls who match her age and social rank. Daisy meets another man, an impoverished Italian, who takes her on unescorted excursions. They are seen together and criticized for these unchaperoned situations. When Winterbourne is a witness to one of these questionable outings he steps away from any more pursuit of Daisy. She becomes ill with fever in Rome. Frederick visits her during this sickness until she dies. This narrative outlines the conflict between artifice and infatuation. This is one of Henry James most succinct and direct accounts of the interplay between social standings.
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