Daisy Miller, ubiquitous flirt, cavorts around with mysterious Italian romantics and remains contemptuous and ignorant of European social customs during her short stay in the Old World. On an intimate level, Daisy's story is one about a young woman's hedonistic adventures in a world where hedonism has no place. Daisy's self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking lifestyle is typical of the American capitalist world, and her untimely death is a literary and symbolic necessity--- Daisy's death signifies the short-lived nature of gluttonous behavior. On a larger scale, Henry James'Daisy Miller may be interpreted as a portrait of the American character and American destiny: boldly adventurous and transient.
Daisy Miller is a flawed character (thus, doomed to death) in that her nature is ambiguous; one can endlessly dispute whether she is a tart or an innocent flirt. We are introduced to Daisy when she promenades into the hotel's terrace area. Her initial aloofness to Winterbourne is symbolic of an American arrogance--- this later disintegrates into America congeniality and amiability as she continues to associate with Winterbourne.
Henry James establishes Daisy as the mirror of America: her youthful, capricious, and consistently sunny disposition is a subtle analogy to the spirited American capitalism and optimism of the times. Daisy is the complete antithesis of the stuffy Mrs. Walker, whose social traditions are so deeply imbued that it leaves no room for compromise within her Old World character. While Mrs. Walker represents the graceful sophistication and controlled demeanor of the European aristocracy, Daisy's boundless energy exudes from her body, carelessly spilled as she flounders here, frolics there.
It is precisely this unrestrained energy that leads to Daisy's demise. If trapped in a productive person, Daisy's energy would have transformed her previously flawed self into a remarkable, brilliant figure. However, she channels this energy in an entirely...