Reading Guide: "Daily Miller: a study" Someday my buried prose will kick off its various tombstones at once. (Henry James) "



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HENRY JAMES


Reading Guide: “Daily Miller: A Study”
Someday my buried prose will kick off its various tombstones at once. (Henry James)
Daisy Miller: A Study” (1878) *The original title of the novella included the subtitle “A Study”

Part 1


  1. Note the original title. As you read, consider what the story is a study of?

  2. Where is the setting?

  3. What is suggested by Winterbourne’s last name?

  4. From where has Winterbourne just come?

  5. Does Winterbourne have an occupation? If so, what is it?

  6. Why is Winterbourne originally attracted to Daisy? How does he view her? What does Winterbourne have a great relish for?

  7. Note Daisy’s name. What are possible implications?

  8. The Millers are rich. Would you say that they are new money or old money? What is the difference?

  9. What is a “coquette?” Is Daisy a coquette?

  10. How does Winterbourne “use” Randolph?

  11. What is Daisy’s view of Vevy?

  12. Winterbourne concludes that Daisy is a “type” and a “category.” How has he typecast her?

  13. Note the conversation about the two different ways to get to the castle. What is on Winterbourne’s mind?

  14. Account for the way the Miller’s courier observes Winterbourne.

  15. Does Daisy flirt with Winterbourne in Part I. Is she just a little flirt?


Part 2

  1. Who is Mrs. Costello? Characterize her. Why is Winterbourne interested in such a horrible old woman? Is Mrs. Costello old money or new money?

  2. What are Mrs. Costello’s complaints against Daisy? Are they justified?
  3. What is implied in Mrs. Costello’s comment about Daisy: “She is a young lady who has an intimacy with her mama’s courier”?


  4. Is Winterbourne in any way influenced by his Aunt’s comments about Daisy?

  5. What irony do you find in Mrs. Costello’s comment to Winterbourne: “You are too innocent”?

  6. What do we hear about Mrs. Costello’s granddaughters?

  7. Does Daisy look forward to meeting Mrs. Costello? Why? Note her language, especially words like “ever so much” and “dying.”

  8. Note the conversation between Winterbourne and Daisy over the possibility of Daisy meeting Mrs. Costello. How does Daisy catch him in a deception? Do you think Daisy has ever been snubbed in her life before this incident?

  9. Note the many times Winterbourne says, “I’m afraid” in the story. What do you think he is afraid of?

  10. Describe Daisy’s mother.

  11. Note the conversation about rowing in the starlight. Again, what is on Winterbourne’s mind?

  12. Note Daisy’s line: “Oh, I hoped you would make a fuss! I don’t care to go now.” Also note the line: “That’s all I want—a little fuss.

  13. How do Daisy and Winterbourne eventually go to the castle? How did Winterbourne want to go? Why? What does Daisy’s decision to go by boat say about her?

  14. What does Winterbourne do for the custodian at the castle?

  15. Why does Daisy suspect that Winterbourne must return to Geneva?

  16. How does Mrs. Costello react to news of the castle visit?


Part 3

  1. What are Mrs. Costello’s latest comments to Winterbourne on Daisy not that the Millers are in Rome?

  2. What comments about Daisy does Mrs. Costello have for Winterbourne when he arrives in Rome? What assumptions does Mrs. Costello make about Daisy?
  3. What is Winterbourne’s reaction to the news that Daisy is “surrounded by half a dozen wonderful mustaches”?


  4. Make a close examination of Mrs. Walker. Where is she from? Is she old money or new money?

  5. Note that Mrs. Costello and Mrs. Walker both treat Daisy in an ugly way. How do their ways differ?

  6. Who is Mr. Giovanelli? What is your estimation of him? What is his interest in Daisy? What is Daisy’s interest in him?

  7. What is Mrs. Miller’s fear about Daisy walking to the Pincio?

  8. Account for Mr. Winterbourne’s estimation of Mr. Giovanelli.

  9. Note the scene between Daisy and Mrs. Walker at the carriage. What is Mrs. Walker’s request? Why? How does Daisy respond?

  10. What demands does Mrs. Walker make on Winterbourne? Why?

  11. Note the ambiguous scene at the end of Part 3. From whose perception do we see it? What are Daisy and Giovanelli doing under the umbrella?\


Part 4

  1. How does Mrs Walker plan to treat Daisy? Why?

  2. How does Daisy react when Winterbourne calls her a flirt? (And keep in mind just what Winterbourne is!)

  3. Point out some instances when Daisy is quite blunt with Winterbourne. What are some of her frequent criticisms of him?

  4. The narrator tells us that Winterbourne has a “pleasant sense” about Daisy. What is this “pleasant sense”?

  5. Winterbourne’s estimation of Mr. Giovanelli changes in Part 4. What has he learned?

  6. Is Daisy using Mr. Giovanelli? Or are they just good friends? Does she love him?

  7. What do you think are Giovanelli’s intentions for Daisy?

  8. Where does Winterbourne encounter Daisy (in that “beautiful abode of flowering desolation”)? How is this place a symbol?
  9. Where does Winterbourne next encounter Daisy? How is this place a symbol? Why does Daisy want to go there?


  10. How does Winterbourne react when he sees her there?

  11. What is Daisy’s response?

  12. What is Roman fever? How does Daisy die?

  13. What does Winterbourne learn at the funeral?

  14. Has Winterbourne done Daisy an injustice?

  15. What does Winterbourne do when he returns to Geneva?


CRITICAL THINKING

  1. Who is the main character: Winterbourne or Daisy?

  2. Is Winterbourne a static or dynamic character?

  3. Is the story a love story? Does Winterbourne love Daisy? Does Daisy love him?

  4. Why, ultimately, does Winterbourne turn his back on Daisy?

  5. Like a true Jamesian hero, Winterbourne spends most of the story wondering whether Daisy is worthy of being loved. What is his problem?

  6. Does Daisy have any faults? What are they?

  7. Are you prepared for Daisy’s death?

  8. Where is the climax of the story?





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