Henry James’ novel Daisy Miller is hard for a reader to grasp at first. Not, in the usual way with 19th century novels, because it is over packed with plot and characters, drama and metaphors, but because on the onset this novel seems incredibly simple, even dull. It is true, that not much happens. Mr. Winterbourne visits his aunt, meets Daisy Miller and her family, falls for her, goes to visit her in Rome where she has found a new object of attention and this ultimately brings about her demise. The story is short, tragic, but ultimately leaves no real mark on the reader because no one really likes Daisy anyway. Having just finished the book I myself am still trying to dig for meaning in it all, because I refuse to believe that the novel is what it appears on the outside.
Thus finishing the novel, and after reading of Daisy’s death, I remembered the scene towards the beginning of the end of the story when Daisy and Winterbourne have just left Mrs. Walker’s house and Daisy is causing a scandal, as usual, in her intent to meet and accompany Mr. Giovanelli by herself. Suddenly, Mrs. Walker storms through in her carriage in an attempt to save Daisy from herself, and in speaking with Mr. Winterbourne describes the girl as “very reckless” but more importantly to the later events of the novel, says of this recklessness “and goodness knows how far- left to itself- it may go.” This is not simply a, now, obvious foreshadowing of Daisy’s death, but a concrete fact. The way Daisy behaves is dangerous and inappropriate, but the reason she acts like this is because of her mother. Mrs. Walker touches on this fact also when she says “’Did you ever’, she proceeded to inquire, ‘see anything so blatantly imbecile as the mother?’” and then goes on to describe how she herself couldn’t sit around and let Daisy make such mistakes without attempting to stop her. Here in this scene, this acquaintance of Daisy, acts more in a motherly way than Daisy’s real mother does through the entire novel. It is true that occasionally Mrs. Miller will almost attempt to persuade Daisy to not do something, however in the end Daisy always does just what she likes. This is because Mrs. Miller is weak willed and lazy, and her character has effected Daisy’s own more than either of them could know.