Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller Character Analysis

Although the novella takes Winterbourne’s point of view throughout, the book can in large part be considered a character study of Daisy Miller, a young, very pretty, independent-minded American from Schenectady, New York, who has come to Europe with her mother and brother Randolph. Daisy is enchanted by the European sights, and is eager to see and experience whatever she can. She is cheerful and talkative, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind—even with people she doesn’t know very well. She also treats the courier, Eugenio, with much more familiarity than many people in Europe treat their servants. Daisy shocks the other Europeans and American expatriates around her with her refusal to obey unspoken social commandments, and with her insistence on doing things her way, whether that means wandering through Rome alone, staying out late, or arriving late to a party because she’s distracted. Given that the view we have of Daisy is largely mediated through Winterbourne’s eyes—and Winterbourne is not exactly an impartial observer—it is difficult to distinguish his own opinion of her from an “objective” perspective on Daisy. Is she respectable or disreputable? An overly coquettish flirt or just an excitable American abroad? By filtering the main character through another, Henry James complicates the very notion of character, which can be strung between a person’s innate qualities and the social self that is largely constructed by other people. Daisy’s death at the end of the novel suggests that her clash with those around her is ultimately unsustainable, and between the two ways of life at stake, it is Daisy’s that fails.

Daisy Miller Quotes in Daisy Miller

The Daisy Miller quotes below are all either spoken by Daisy Miller or refer to Daisy Miller. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
European and American Character Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Daisy Miller published in 1995.
Part 1: Les Trois Couronnes Quotes

He thought it very possible that Master Randolph’s sister was a coquette; he was sure she had a spirit of her own; but in her bright, superficial little visage there was no mockery, no irony.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller, Randolph Miller
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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She paused again for an instant; she was looking at Winterbourne with all her prettiness in her lively eyes, and in her light, slightly monotonous smile. “I have always had,” she said, “a great deal of gentlemen’s society.”

Related Characters: Daisy Miller (speaker), Mr. Winterbourne
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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“But I really think that you had better not meddle with little American girls that are uncultivated, as you call them. You have lived too long out of the country. You will be sure to make some great mistake. You are too innocent.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Costello (speaker), Daisy Miller, Mr. Winterbourne
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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She seemed to him, in all this, an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2: Rome Quotes

Winterbourne meditated a moment. “They are very ignorant—very innocent only. Depend upon it they are not bad.”

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller, Mrs. Miller, Randolph Miller, Mrs. Costello
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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He remembered that a cynical compatriot had once told him that American women—the pretty ones, and this gave largeness to the axiom—were at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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The young girl looked at him more gravely, but with eyes that were prettier than ever. “I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate anything to me, or to interfere with anything I do.”

Related Characters: Daisy Miller (speaker), Mr. Winterbourne
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

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That she should seem to wish to get rid of him would help him to think more lightly of her, and to be able to think more lightly of her would make her much less perplexing. But Daisy, on this occasion, continued to present herself as an inscrutable combination of audacity and innocence.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Well,” said Winterbourne, “when you deal with natives you must go by the custom of the place. Flirting is a purely American custom; it doesn’t exist here.”

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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[Mrs. Walker] turned her back straight upon Miss Miller, and left her to depart with what grace she might. Winterbourne was standing near the door; he saw it all.

Related Characters: Daisy Miller, Mr. Winterbourne, Mrs. Walker
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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He could not deny to himself that she was going very far indeed. He felt very sorry for her—not exactly that he believed that she had completely lost her head, but because it was painful to hear so much that was pretty and undefended and natural assigned to a vulgar place among the categories of disorder.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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He was angry at finding himself reduced to chopping logic about this young lady; he was vexed at his want of instinctive certitude as to how far her eccentricities were generic, national, and how far they were personal.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Winterbourne stopped, with a sort of horror, and it must be added, with a sort of relief. It was as if a sudden illumination had been flashed upon the ambiguity of Daisy’s behavior, and the riddle had become easy to read. She was a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect.

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Daisy Miller, Mr. Giovanelli
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Anyway, she says she’s not engaged. I don’t know why she wanted you to know; but she said to me three times, ‘Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne.’ And then she told me to ask if you remembered the time you went to that castle in Switzerland.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Miller (speaker), Daisy Miller, Mr. Winterbourne, Mr. Giovanelli
Related Symbols: Roman fever (malaria)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

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“She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable”; and then he added in a moment, “and she was the most innocent.”
Winterbourne looked at him, and presently repeated his words, “And the most innocent?”
“The most innocent!”

Related Characters: Mr. Winterbourne (speaker), Mr. Giovanelli (speaker), Daisy Miller
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

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Daisy Miller Character Timeline in Daisy Miller

The timeline below shows where the character Daisy Miller appears in Daisy Miller. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Les Trois Couronnes
European and American Character Theme Icon
Judgment, Knowledge, and Knowability Theme Icon
...Randolph C. Miller: his sister, he says, is Annie P. Miller, but she goes by Daisy, though that’s not the name on her “cards.” Daisy asks Randolph to ask Winterbourne his... (full context)
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Daisy tells Winterbourne that Randolph misses home, and that there aren’t many boys around to play... (full context)
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Daisy continues chatting (Winterbourne thinks others might have characterized it as “chattering”) about her family affairs... (full context)
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Daisy says the only thing she doesn’t like about Europe is the society. That is, she’s... (full context)
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Winterbourne is confused by Daisy but also charmed. He wonders whether she is really uncouth in her behavior or if... (full context)
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Winterbourne wonders again if Daisy is unscrupulous—his instincts about people’s character seem to be failing him. She looks innocent, but... (full context)
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Daisy points to the Château de Chillon (a castle) in the distance and asks if Winterbourne... (full context)
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Winterbourne makes a few suggestions, but Daisy looks at him and cries that she wishes he would stay with Randolph. Winterbourne hesitates,... (full context)
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...tall and handsome, and looks Winterbourne up and down before announcing that lunch is ready. Daisy rises and cries that she’s going to the castle anyway. Eugenio asks if Daisy has... (full context)
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Daisy smiles and turns to follow Eugenio, as Winterbourne watches her go. He returns to his... (full context)
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Winterbourne, more seriously, asks if Mrs. Costello thinks Daisy might expect a man to “carry her off.” She doesn’t know, but cautions him not... (full context)
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Despite this conversation, Winterbourne remains impatient to see Daisy again. He finds her that evening in the hotel garden, wandering around alone. She was... (full context)
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Winterbourne, embarrassed, says that he agrees, although the headaches will make that difficult. Daisy glances at him and says they’re sure to find a time. But when Winterbourne slowly... (full context)
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...approaching in the darkness, and suddenly pause. Winterbourne says she must not see them, but Daisy says her mother probably won’t approach since she sees him. Winterbourne offers to leave her,... (full context)
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Mrs. Miller doesn’t greet Winterbourne, and when Daisy asks gaily what she’s doing here, Mrs. Miller responds that she doesn’t know. She couldn’t... (full context)
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Daisy says that at least she’ll be able to go to the castle now that Winterbourne... (full context)
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Daisy suddenly calls to Winterbourne, asking if he can take her out on a boat right... (full context)
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Winterbourne suggests Daisy take his arm and they’ll go find a boat at the nearby landing-place. She laughs... (full context)
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Eugenio frigidly announces that Randolph has gone to bed. Mrs. Miller tells Daisy to accompany her back, and Daisy looks back at Winterbourne. She smiles and says she... (full context)
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Two days later Winterbourne waits for Daisy in the hotel hall. She darts downstairs, buttoning her gloves as Winterbourne admires her figure... (full context)
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Daisy is charming and animated, but Winterbourne is a little disappointed that she doesn’t seem anxious... (full context)
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They arrive at the castle and walk around. Daisy seems less interested in antiquities than she is in asking Winterbourne about his family, his... (full context)
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Winterbourne is astonished by Daisy’s reaction. She begins to hurl insults on the woman she imagines Winterbourne is running back... (full context)
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In fact, Mrs. Costello has taken an apartment in Rome for the winter. But Daisy says she wants Winterbourne to come for her, not for his aunt. Winterbourne agrees to... (full context)
Part 2: Rome
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Winterbourne asks for more specifics, and Mrs. Costello says that Daisy wanders around alone with the Italians, whom she takes as guests to people’s houses—in particular... (full context)
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Winterbourne is a little annoyed to hear about all the foreign men flitting around Daisy, interrupting his image of her alone at a Roman window, awaiting his arrival. So he... (full context)
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...and of the lack of a good doctor like her Dr. Davis in Schenectady. As Daisy continues to chat with the hostess, Mrs. Miller tells Winterbourne that she has been disappointed... (full context)
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Mrs. Miller says that Daisy has loved Rome and is in fact carried away because of the “splendid” society. Daisy... (full context)
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Daisy turns and declares that she’s been telling Mrs. Walker, the hostess, how “mean” Winterbourne has... (full context)
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Daisy then asks Mrs. Walker’s permission to bring a friend to her upcoming party. Mrs. Walker,... (full context)
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Daisy tells her mother to leave without her, as she’s going to walk. Randolph says she’s... (full context)
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Daisy and Winterbourne go outside and move slowly through the packed streets. Winterbourne enjoys seeing many... (full context)
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Daisy rebukes Winterbourne for not coming to see her earlier, but then turns to other topics.... (full context)
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They pass the Pincian Gardens gate, and Winterbourne says he won’t help Daisy find Mr. Giovanelli. She laughs, then sees the Italian leaning against a tree. He is... (full context)
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Daisy introduces the two men and they walk, each on one side of her. Mr. Giovanelli... (full context)
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...if a “nice girl” would really meet up with a foreigner to walk about alone. Daisy is not quite delicate, but neither can he bring himself to feel that she is... (full context)
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...carriage, her face flushed, and beckons to Winterbourne. She cries that 50 people have noticed Daisy, and she must stop. Winterbourne asks her not to make a fuss about it, since... (full context)
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Winterbourne goes to fetch Daisy, who seems delighted to present Mr. Giovanelli to Mrs. Walker. Mrs. Walker asks her to... (full context)
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Daisy begins to flush, and looks quite pretty to Winterbourne. She asks him if her reputation... (full context)
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...her eyes tearing up, tells Winterbourne to get in: when he says he must follow Daisy, she says if he does she’ll never speak to him again. Winterbourne catches up with... (full context)
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Winterbourne tells Mrs. Walker, back in the carriage, that her earnestness has backfired: Daisy means no harm. Mrs. Walker thinks she’s gone too far, flirting with Italians, dancing with... (full context)
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When Mrs. Walker marvels at how Daisy should have made a fuss about Winterbourne leaving Vevay, when they’d only known each other... (full context)
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...off by the Villa Borghese at the edge of the Pincian Garden. In the distance Daisy and Mr. Giovanelli are seated on a bench. Winterbourne watches them wander toward the wall,... (full context)
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The next two days, Winterbourne tries to call at Daisy’s hotel, but she’s not home either time. On the third day is Mrs. Walker’s party,... (full context)
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When Winterbourne arrives, he sees Mrs. Miller, though not Daisy. Mrs. Miller tells Winterbourne and Mrs. Walker that she feels frightened to have come alone.... (full context)
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Daisy doesn’t arrive until eleven o’clock, looking lovely, smiling and chattering next to Mr. Giovanelli. She... (full context)
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Daisy and Winterbourne begin to talk. She says she was shocked that Mrs. Walker wanted her... (full context)
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...agrees that she is nice, but says he’d like her only to flirt with himself. Daisy thanks him but says he is much too stiff to flirt with. She laughs at... (full context)
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Winterbourne continues, trying to convince Daisy that she should follow the custom of a certain place, rather than flirt in the... (full context)
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Daisy turns to the Italian, who asks if she’d like tea—which she says Winterbourne has never... (full context)
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...are there Giovanelli always is too. Much of the time it is only he and Daisy in the drawing room. Winterbourne is surprised that Daisy never seems annoyed when Winterbourne intrudes... (full context)
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Still, Winterbourne has to admit that Daisy seems to find Giovanelli fascinating: she is always asking him questions and ordering him around.... (full context)
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Mrs. Costello, watching the couple, says she easily understands the appeal: Daisy must think him a fine gentleman, finer even than the courier, who probably introduced them.... (full context)
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...around about Giovanelli, who is apparently respectable, though he doesn’t move in the finest circles. Daisy, he says, probably thinks him a gentleman, just as he finds her pretty, interesting, and... (full context)
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At St. Peter’s, other friends of Mrs. Costello gather around them and discuss how Daisy has really gone “too far.” Winterbourne is upset at this talk, finding it painful to... (full context)
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...gets into a cab to find Mrs. Miller, who is at home and says that Daisy is off with Mr. Giovanelli, as usual. Daisy claims she isn’t engaged, says Mrs. Miller,... (full context)
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After this Winterbourne never finds Daisy at home, nor at the houses of his friends, who have stopped inviting her, and... (full context)
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It annoys Winterbourne to think that Daisy might not even notice or care about this coldness—she is probably too “light,” uncultivated, and... (full context)
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A few days later Winterbourne finds Daisy at the Palace of the Caesar on a fine spring day, strolling amid the mossy... (full context)
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Daisy says Winterbourne thinks she’s with Giovanelli too much. Everyone thinks so, Winterbourne replies. Daisy declares... (full context)
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Daisy looks at Giovanelli, then back at Winterbourne, and says Winterbourne shouldn’t let people be so... (full context)
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...quickly afterward. Then he sees two people poised on the low steps, talking: he recognizes Daisy’s voice. (full context)
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Winterbourne is horrified by this discovery, but also a little relieved. Daisy’s behavior is finally easy to read for him—she is simply not a respectable lady. Winterbourne... (full context)
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Daisy says she’s been here all evening, and nothing can be so pretty. Winterbourne tells her... (full context)
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Winterbourne counsels them to leave immediately, and Giovanelli goes to get the carriage. Daisy doesn’t seem at all embarrassed, though after a minute of chatting she asks why Winterbourne... (full context)
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Winterbourne mentions to no one the circumstances of his meeting with Daisy, but in a few days all the Americans seem to know about it—they would have... (full context)
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A few days later, the same gossips reveal that Daisy is seriously ill. Winterbourne goes to the hotel at once, where a few other acquaintances... (full context)
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...does continue to talk a great deal about Dr. Davis. Mrs. Miller tells Winterbourne that Daisy has asked her to tell him that Daisy was never engaged to Mr. Giovanelli—who has... (full context)
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A week later Daisy dies, and she is buried in the small Protestant cemetery in Rome. There are more... (full context)
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...Vevay. One day he reflects to Mrs. Costello that he had done an injustice to Daisy: she gave him a message before her death that he only understands now. She would... (full context)