Essay, Research Paper: Henry James


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Henry James was born in New York in 1843. His parents were Henry James Sr. and
Mary James. Henry James had three brothers and one sister. Henry James’
ancestor, William James, was an 18 year old Irishman who arrived in America in
1789. According to family legend, the ancestor arrived with a very small sum of
money and later gained a small fortune through the establishment of a store in
New York. Later, he ventured into banking and the manufacture of salt which
paved his way as a powerful man in the upper Hudson area. Jamesville, New York
and two streets in Albany and Syracuse were named after this legendary ancestor
( Henry James). As a young child, Henry James had only private tutors and never
gained any strict education. The year Henry James turned twelve years old his
family moved to Switzerland and later to France and Germany. After the
completion of his family’s travels, Henry James returned to America and
enrolled in Harvard law school for a while. He withdrew soon after his
enrollment because he desired to pursue writing rather than an education. His
father’s leisurely lifestyle as a traveler and writer allowed Henry James to
meet people like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott. His youthful years in
Europe left a great impression. Later in his life, James moved to England where
he established citizenship as a protest against America’s failure to enter the
war against Germany. Henry James died on February 28, 1916 ( "Henry
James"). Some scholars criticize James works because of its slow
development and deliberate withholding of information. These two characteristics
are a result of his leisurely and refined lifestyle. Therefore, James purposely
developed his novels with a conscientious slowness and refinement. James was
interested in the society of people who possessed subtle ideas and interests
much like himself and his father. The people in this society had enough money to
develop their ideas and refinements. Also, Henry James was the first writer to
introduce the theme of an American in Europe( Henry James). Characters in Daisy
Miller Daisy Miller A young, exceptionally pretty, young lady from the United
States who shocks the more formalized European society by her spontaneous acts.
Mrs. Miller Daisy’s mother, who seems to sanction most of Daisy’s erratic
actions. Frederick Winterbourne The narrator of the story and a huge fan of
Daisy’s. Mrs. Costello Winterbourne’s aunt, who acts as his confidante. She
thoroughly disapproves of Daisy. Mrs. Walker A mutual friend of Winterbourne and
Daisy. She later severs her relationship with Daisy. Mr. Giovanelli An Italian
hottie whom Daisy picks up in Rome. Summery by! Frederick
Winterbourne Daisy Miller, you have caught my eye. Daisy Miller Good, let's go
somewhere unchaperoned. (They do.) Daisy Miller Now I will be flirtatious with
someone else. Frederick Winterbourne But I'm obsessed with you. Go home and take
some medicine. Daisy Miller No, I don't care if I die. (dies) Frederick
Winterbourne Those wacky Americans. I'll never understand them. The End. Theme
Basically, all of James’ novels have the same theme, American vs. European. I
found many other themes. Innocence vs. Knowledge; Utility vs. Form and ceremony;
Spontaneity vs. Ritual; Chaos vs. Order. Point of View The story is told through
Winterbourne’s eyes. It’s 1st person. I wanted it to be more complicated,
but it is not. Literary Devises Foreshadowing is used throughout the book. For
example, everyone keeps telling Daisy to take her medicine or she will get sick.
Daisy doesn’t take her medicine… My Opinion This story is trite. It is a
simple read but not worth it. I found the characters were poorly developed and
the story was just plain stupid. I do not recommend this book. Quotes
"She’s completely uncultivated," Winterbourne went on. "But she
is wonderfully pretty, and, in short, she is nice. To prove that I believe it, I
am going to take her to the Chвteau de Chillon." Winterbourne to his
Aunt after 1st meeting Daisy (James 21). "What has she been doing?"
"Everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up;
sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all the evening with the
same partners; receiving visits at eleven o’clock at night. Her mother goes
away when visitors come." Mrs. Costello (Winterbourne’s Aunt) to
Winterbourne (James 57). Daisy gave a violent laugh. "I never heard
anything so stiff! If this is improper, Mrs. Walker," she pursued,
"then I am all improper, and you must give up on me. Good-bye; I hope you
have a lovely ride!" and, with Mr. Giovanelli, who made a triumphantly
obsequious salute, she turned away. Daisy to Mrs. Walker after refusing a ride
home (James 56). A Classic This book is a classic because it has a universal
theme. A theme that stands the test of time. Personally, I didn’t find it very
meaningful but, in its time, Daisy Miller, was very controversial. 
"Henry James" The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. CD ROM; Helicon
Publishing Ltd., 1999 James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York. Tom Doherty Ass.,
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