Daisy Miller and Mrs Walker : the lolita and the victorian.

Daisy Miller is a novella written by Henry James in 1878. It tells the story of an Europeanised man  (Winterbourne) who struggles to accept his attraction for a young American girl nicknamed Daisy. Daisy is an unabashed party girl, a pleasure-seeker. This light-hearted quality of hers is what attracted Winterbourne to her in the first place, but he’s ashamed of it.

The turning point of the story happens when Daisy rides in a carriage with two men, something that, at the time, is seen as scandalous. She’s mainly caracterised as a care-free girl, and in this passage especially, she asserts her freedom and her giddiness. Her freedom clashes with the morals of that era, embodied by the stiff Mrs Walker. Winterbourne then has to take a side, and either continue on riding with Daisy and Mr Giovenelli, or going back to the hotel with Mrs Walker. The dramatic issue of the scene is to chase away Winterbourne from the love triangle, but I’d argue that there’s more at stake here. It’s a matter of female sexuality’s representation.

Lire la suite