As Winterbourne escorts Daisy to her date with Giovanelli, he declares: “that I intend to remain with you” (James 39), insisting that he will accompany her whether she likes it or not. Daisy responds with calling him out on “dictating” to her. Winterbourne tells her that she is making a mistake and that himself is the “right gentleman” whom she should listen to as opposed to acting as she pleases. This is the first scene in this novel where Winterbourne tries to interfere with Daisy’s way of living and subtly suggests to her that what she does is not different, but wrong, in Europe. As jealousy ferments in him, Winterbourne becomes increasingly more upfront about his readiness to “correct” Daisy’s behavior. He goes out of his way to find Mrs. Miller when Daisy isn’t at the hotel, to literally educate her on how to teach shame into Daisy. But thankfully, as readers we are spared the discomfort of having to read that scene since Winterbourne gives up on his notion.
Winterbourne is a character who is so pre-occupied with narrating what is happening around him, that he rarely reflects upon himself. He reminds me a lot of Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, who declares from the first chapter that he detests judgements but somehow shamelessly contradicts himself throughout the novel. Winterbourne sees himself to be an upholder of European tradition, while courting a lady, who is older than himself, in Geneva. He likes to act like the mature and reasonable gentleman around Daisy but in fact, he is deeply frustrated by Daisy’s indifferent attitude towards him. And Winterbourne has an irresistible urge to offer protection and guidance to Daisy Miller, because he thinks of Daisy as vulnerable and ignorant when it comes to European conventions or what people think of her. On the other hand, Daisy is in fact keenly aware of who she is, and of what people think of her. She admits that “I’m a fearful, frightful flirt! Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not” (49). Her speech is powerful, and she is courageous in the face of her own true identity, which instills fear and almost admiration in Winterbourne and puts him to shame.