daisy miller

Title: daisy miller
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HENRY JAMES: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES In the mid 1850s, a father made this observation about his 14-year-old son's unexceptional performance in school: "Harry is not so fond of study, properly so-called, as of reading.... He has considerable talent as a writer, but I am at a loss to know whether he will ever accomplish much." The father need not have worried. Within fifty years, "Harry" (as family and friends called Henry James) would be known among his peers as "The Master." He is known to us today as one of the greatest novelists to have written in English. Henry James was born in New York City on April 15, 1843, into a family that was as eccentric as it was wealthy and as brilliant as it was eccentric. Henry James Sr., was a philosopher who counted among his visitors many of the noted thinkers of the day, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. His oldest son, William, would in time also write on philosophy and psychology, surpassing his father to become one of the most important figures in American intellectual history. The James family made frequent and lengthy trips through Europe, giving the young Henry a formal education that was at best haphazard, but also exposing him early to the continent, that would become the setting and the subject of so much of his writing. Wealth, leisure, and travel should perhaps have made Henry James's childhood an idyll. But it was an idyll shadowed by James's fears and insecurities. Compared to his confident older brother, Henry felt frail and unmasculine; sometimes mocked by other boys, he retreated into the company of his mother, sister, and aunt. In 1860 the family had settled at Newport, Rhode Island. There, the following year, while helping others fight a stable fire, James suffered an injury he described as "a horrid even if an obscure hurt." Throughout his life he remained as mysterious about the specific nature of this injury as he would be about the evil in The Turn of the Screw, but it severely affected him. It prevented him from fighting in the Civil War. Some critics also contend that it was the cause--or perhaps simply the convenient excuse--behind James's apparently total lifelong rejection of sexual relationships. In any case, the physical and psychological pain it gave him was one more force isolating him from the rest of the world. It was to compensate for this sense of isolation, to make some connection with others, that James turned to writing. After giving formal schooling one final try at age 19 in a miserable and unsuccessful year at Harvard Law School, James determined to make literature his career. He began to publish his first book reviews and stories. Some of these early works have been described as being "like the faint and confused murmurs of a sleeper who has something on his mind and is trying to awaken," but they hint at the concerns of his later masterpieces. Many of them were influenced by the work of an earlier nineteenth-century writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who shared with James a fascination with the supernatural, a concern with the restraints that society places on the individual, and an interest in the way the past shapes the present. Where Hawthorne had been obsessed by the American past, however, James was increasingly drawn to Europe. America, he tended to feel, was too new, too raw, and too simple to inspire literature of the highest caliber. He loved the complexities of life in Europe--the sense of history, the traditions, the more elaborate manners of a more formal society. He was also influenced by European authors, notably the French writers Honore de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert, the English writers George Eliot and William Makepeace Thackeray, and the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. During the 1870s, James made several lengthy trips to Europe, living first in Rome, then in Paris, and finally in England. His decision to live abroad is considered the most important decision of his career as a writer. For it was his years as an American in Europe that provided him his greatest subject matter--the stories of independent, confident, sometimes dangerously naive residents of the new world confronting the sophisticated, often corrupting subtleties of the old. James explored this international theme (as it is usually called) in his early novels, Roderick Hudson (1876) and The American (1877) and in the first work that won him both critical and popular acclaim, Daisy Miller. Though set in Europe, Daisy Miller was in fact partly inspired by James's experiences in a New York State resort, Saratoga. While writing a travel article on the town, James was struck by the manners of the well-to-do Americans he encountered there. The mothers and daughters all seemed dressed up to do nothing; the teen-aged girls seemed particularly idle. The younger children were wildly undisciplined, allowed to stay up until all hours of the night and often found dozing in the armchairs of hotel lobbies. Here were the prototypes of Mrs. Miller, Daisy, and her brother Randolph. The rest of the inspiration came from Europe, however. During a visit to Rome, Henry walked to the Colosseum with his brother, William. It was a winter evening. The ruin loomed half in moonlight and half in shadow. Standing on the spot where so many Christians had been thrown to the lions horrified William, but Henry saw beauty as well as tragedy in the Colosseum. He would soon choose this exact setting for the climax of Daisy Miller. On another visit to Rome, James discovered the specific situation that would suggest his tale. A friend told a very sketchy anecdote about an "uninformed" American girl who had picked up a very handsome Italian man with no social standing. The well-meaning girl had introduced her friend to the very selective American society in Rome, by whose standards he was considered "low life." They promptly showed their disapproval by snubbing the innocent girl. In 1876, Daisy Miller: A Study was published in England's Cornhill Magazine to instant success. Initially rejected by an American publisher, the story achieved such popularity in England that it was quickly printed in the United States without James's authorization. By the time James could have it legitimately published in the U.S., most people had read the pirated edition. No work of his, except for The Turn of the Screw, would ever equal Daisy Miller in popularity. But his earnings from the sale of Daisy Miller in the United States amounted to only about two hundred dollars. Daisy Miller was a cultural phenomenon not unlike a hit movie or number one song today. Impulsive American girls traveling in Europe were suddenly referred to as "Daisy Millers." There were even "Daisy Miller" hats in the stores. A writer named Virginia W. Johnson published An English Daisy Miller, with an English girl as its heroine. Daisy's fame would follow Henry James throughout his life, occasionally to his chagrin. In the 1880s he followed Daisy with a string of fine novels--including one, The Portrait of a Lady (1881) that in many ways expands and deepens the themes and characters of Daisy Miller--but none of them attracted the reading audience of his simpler, earlier tale. In the early 1890s James made several disastrous attempts to write plays. Yet he was too much the disciplined professional to abandon writing, or even remain very discouraged for long. By the late 1890s he was again producing fine work, including the novels The Spoils of Poynton (1896) and What Maisie Knew (1897) and the ghostly tale, The Turn of the Screw (1898). When Henry James was 12, Frank Leslie's New York Journal serialized a story entitled, "Temptation"--a tale of evil populated by governesses; housekeepers; valets; a brother and sister victimized by "horrors"; and by a villain named Peter Quin and his sidekick, Miles. Over 40 years later, James serialized his own tale of evil, replete with governesses; a housekeeper; sister and brother (named Miles) victimized by horrors; and a villainous valet named Peter Quint. He called his tale The Turn of the Screw. James's interest in the supernatural was strong, and it figured in a number of his stories of the 1890s. Yet The Turn of the Screw seemed to tap something particularly deep in his emotions. As he was writing about the country house, Bly, he was preparing to move into a similar country estate, Lamb House. Describing the complicated feelings James had for Lamb House, his biographer, Leon Edel, wrote: "The house symbolized the world of his childhood, the place where he had been least free, where he had had to resort to disguise and subterfuge in order to possess himself and his identity." There are other connections between the story and James's own life. Like Miles's childhood, James's was spent in the company of women. His own boyhood governess was let go from the family's employ, "a cloud of revelations succeeding her withdrawal." Perhaps it was on this character in his own past that he based Miss Jessel. When The Turn of the Screw appeared in installments in Collier's Weekly in 1898, James was flooded with letters from readers who were eager to have the story's mystery solved for them. Not since the publication of Daisy Miller twenty years earlier had he produced a work that evoked such a response from the public. James teased his readers by calling the story "a trap for the unwary," but never explained the mystery. And in some ways the mystery has deepened since. In 1934 the noted American critic Edmund Wilson wrote that the ghosts the governess supposedly sees in the tale aren't real at all, but instead are merely figments of her troubled imagination. In his view, and in the view of many other critics, The Turn of the Screw is not really a ghost story but rather a study of a deeply disturbed mind. Are the ghosts real or not? Is the governess sane or not? It's in part because of these ambiguities that The Turn of the Screw is regarded not merely as a fine tale of the supernatural but as one of the finest stories--of any category--in world literature. After the turn of the century, James produced in quick succession two studies of adultery which are perhaps his greatest novels: The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904). This flurry of activity was followed from 1907 to 1909 by the issue of The Novels and Tales of Henry James, New York Edition, a multivolume collection for which James made many revisions in his work. The prefaces he wrote for this edition, according to Leon Edel, gave James a chance "to say what he hoped all his life the critics would say for him." Taken together, these prefaces constitute his theory of the novel. Henry James had a profound influence on the development of the modern novel. Much of his literary innovation is related to the scientific innovation of the time, in particular to the work of his brother William. Psychology was a new science in Henry James's day; William James is credited with doing much to introduce the discipline to the medical community and to the general public. As a writer of fiction, James worked in the same direction. He explored what his characters were thinking as well as what they were doing. To that end he sought a prose style that would accurately follow the twists and turns of peoples' thoughts. It's a style that struck many readers of his day (and some today) as unnecessarily abstract and convoluted, but that for many others is a brilliant mirroring of the way the human mind works. This skill led the great twentieth-century American poet, Ezra Pound, to describe James's writing as "pages of diagnosis." James also experimented with restricting the point of view in his fiction. Rather than have a narrator tell you what to think, James allows you to hear characters--for example, the governess who narrates most of The Turn of the Screw--express their own thoughts. You are then free to make up your own mind about them. With these experiments, James was developing the psychological novel, a form in which the inner lives of the characters receive more attention than do their external actions. He was paving the way for the more modern literary form known as "stream of consciousness," where the prose reflects the supposedly unedited internal thoughts of the characters. (This phrase, often used to describe novels by twentieth-century writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, itself comes from the work of William James.) James was highly productive: among his works are twenty novels, one hundred twelve tales, several plays, autobiographical writings, literary studies, and travel impressions. He was also highly social: though he never married, he was a frequent dinner and weekend guest in English aristocratic and literary circles, circles in which he observed much of the behavior that found its way into his works. Though he associated with the very rich, he was never really one of them--the image of him as an independently wealthy man who could afford the luxury of being a writer has been proved untrue, for throughout his lifetime he supported himself on the modest income from his writing. The money he borrowed from his father was repaid with earnings from literary endeavors, and the small inheritance he received upon his father's death was contributed to the support of his ill sister Alice. Particularly toward the end of his life, his friends worried about his finances, knowing that his books had not brought him the monetary rewards their artistry deserved. One close friend, the wealthy American novelist Edith Wharton, even arranged to pay James $8,000, disguising the gift (which she knew the proud James would never accept) as an advance from his publisher. Near the end of his life, James formalized the process of Europeanization he had begun so many years before by taking out British citizenship in support of a country that had just entered World War I. He actively engaged in war relief work until his health failed in 1916. On his death, few of his many books were in print. It would take two decades for his work to be rediscovered by the public. But James's writing had a profound influence on many distinguished writers, including Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Katherine Anne Porter, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf. Henry James is often called "a writer's writer," meaning that he is highly regarded by those people who can best appreciate his skill. For the novice writer, Henry James had advice that will also serve his readers well: "Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!" ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: THE PLOT In the Swiss resort of Vevey, a handsome young American named Frederick Winterbourne has arrived to visit his wealthy aunt, Mrs. Costello. At his hotel, he meets a rude American boy named Randolph Miller and, moments later, the boy's beautiful and independent older sister, Daisy. Winterbourne, who has lived abroad long enough to become well-versed in European customs and manners, has never met anyone like Daisy. He finds her flirting charming, even if unorthodox--perhaps even outrageous--by European standards. Daisy announces her desire to visit a nearby medieval castle, and Winterbourne offers to take her. To his utter amazement, Daisy starts making plans to go with him--alone. Her arrangements include neither her mother, her brother, nor her family's courier. Winterbourne can't believe his ears. A young unmarried European woman wouldn't even listen to the suggestion of such an unchaperoned trip, much less propose one herself. Stranger still is the fact that Daisy's mother doesn't seem to object to the idea. Winterbourne's proper aunt, Mrs. Costello, is appalled, though. She won't let her nephew introduce her to these uncultured Americans. Winterbourne and Daisy make their trip to the castle, but it's less of a romantic adventure than Winterbourne had hoped it would be. He finds some satisfaction, however, when Daisy discovers his plans to return to Geneva the next day and is furious that their time together has been cut short. Winterbourne assures her they'll meet again that winter in Rome, where her family and his aunt will be visiting at the same time. Winterbourne arrives in Rome the following winter, expecting to find Daisy pining away for him. Instead, his aunt informs him that Daisy has happily surrounded herself with a large circle of "third rate Italians," and adds that one--a Mr. Giovanelli--seems a particular favorite. The flirtatious behavior that in Vevey brought Winterbourne and Daisy together, now drives them apart. When a wealthy member of the American community, Mrs. Walker, warns Winterbourne that Daisy is endangering her reputation by going out unchaperoned with Giovanelli, Winterbourne tries to stop the couple, only to be treated to a glimpse of them disappearing from view behind Daisy's parasol. Does Daisy's boldness signal innocence or immorality? That's what Winterbourne must figure out. The conservative American community has already made up its mind, unfavorably. Winterbourne does his best to explain to Daisy that people in Rome don't understand her flirting, and he pleads with her to change her ways. But Daisy mistakes his concern for jealousy, and rejects his advice. One by one, the members of American society in Rome turn their back on the girl, and she is no longer welcome in their homes. Even Winterbourne meets her only by chance. After one of his friends spies Daisy in a gallery's secluded nook with Giovanelli, Winterbourne is determined to make one last attempt to save her. He goes straight to Mrs. Miller to warn her of the bad reputation her daughter is getting. But to Mrs. Miller's untutored eye, Giovanelli is a gentleman and acceptable for Daisy. She even suspects that Daisy and Giovanelli are engaged. Her suspicion shocks Winterbourne, and when he encounters the couple a few days later, he has a chance to ask Daisy if she is indeed engaged. First she says she is. Then she says she is not. While walking home one moonlit night a week later, Winterbourne stops in for a look at the Colosseum. He admires the poetic atmosphere of the place, but he also knows that its atmosphere at night is a breeding ground for malaria, "the Roman fever." The monument has two other visitors--a man and a woman--and when their voices reach him he recognizes the couple as Daisy and Giovanelli. His first reaction is one of horror that Daisy is behaving so shamelessly. His second is one of relief. Daisy's indiscretion answers once and for all the question of whether or not she is a "nice girl." The riddle is solved. Winterbourne needn't bother with her any more. Winterbourne still shows some concern for Daisy's health, however, and urges the couple to leave the ruin as quickly as possible. While Giovanelli is fetching their carriage, Daisy and Winterbourne have a moment alone. Daisy wonders if Winterbourne believed her when she said she was engaged. He answers that it no longer matters if she is or not. When he instructs her to go home and take some medication to prevent the fever, Daisy replies simply that she doesn't care if she catches the Roman fever or not. Gossip about the escapade at the Colosseum leaks out and is quickly all over town. Soon it is followed by other news--that the pretty American flirt is desperately ill. Through Mrs. Miller, Winterbourne receives a message from Daisy. She wants him to know that she was never engaged to Giovanelli. Within a week, Daisy is dead of the fever. At her grave, Winterbourne sees Giovanelli, who claims that Daisy was the most beautiful girl he had ever met, and the most innocent. Winterbourne is shocked by this revelation, which shows him the enormous difference between the way things seemed and the way they actually were. Winterbourne leaves Rome after Daisy's funeral, but he thinks of her often. When he returns to Vevey the next summer to visit his aunt, he tells her that Daisy sent him a message before she died. He didn't understand the message then, but he understands it now. By telling him that she was never engaged to Mr. Giovanelli, she was telling him that she did care about his opinion of her. Winterbourne now realizes that he wronged Daisy Miller. He's spent too long in Europe to understand American ways. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: DAISY MILLER Daisy is a strikingly beautiful American girl, probably in her late teens. Her family is from Schenectady, New York, where her father runs a profitable business and she enjoys a whirlwind social life. Her mother and her nine-year-old brother, Randolph, accompany her on her travels through Europe. While in Europe, Daisy behaves just as she did in America, talking openly with any man she finds attractive or interesting. "I'm a fearful, frightful flirt," she says. "Did you ever hear of a nice girl that was not?" What she doesn't realize is that in Europe, nice girls most definitely are not flirts. Her behavior scandalizes the conservative Americans she meets and puzzles the young man who is infatuated with her, Frederick Winterbourne. Does her boldness mean only that she's ignorant of European custom, or does it mean she's immoral? As Daisy runs around Rome with an Italian man, Giovanelli, Winterbourne begins to believe the latter. And when, late one night, he spies the two together at the Colosseum, he's convinced of her immorality. Not until Daisy dies from a fever contracted that evening does Winterbourne realize the young American was what Giovanelli says she was: "the most innocent" girl he has ever known. In her spontaneity and naturalness, her ignorance and her disregard for decorum, Daisy is among the first of the characters whom James used to represent the new world of America in contrast to the older, more cultured world of Europe. She's been called an archetypal American character--an American spirit on the order of Huck Finn. As you read the story of this young American girl, you may not have as much trouble as Winterbourne in deciding that she's innocent. Certainly, James himself insisted on that fact. "Poor little Daisy Miller," he wrote, "was, as I understand her, above all things innocent.... She was a flirt, a perfectly superficial and unmalicious one... the keynote of her character is her innocence." Yet you may ask yourself, as other readers have, whether Daisy's innocence isn't in some ways a negative quality, a weakness. It can be dangerous to be ignorant of rules; it can be foolish not to obey them. By ignoring European conventions, Daisy brings about her social downfall; by ignoring European warnings about visiting the Colosseum at night, she brings about her own death. To those readers, James uses Daisy to show that American pride and American innocence have their limitations. Other readers feel that the corrupt Europeans and Europeanized Americans are primarily at fault for misunderstanding Daisy, and she becomes a tragic martyr at their hands. Keep this issue in mind as you read the book, and make up your own mind about it. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: FREDERICK WINTERBOURNE Frederick Winterbourne is a handsome twenty-seven-year-old American who travels to Vevey, Switzerland, to visit his aunt, Mrs. Costello. It's there that he meets Daisy Miller. Winterbourne is an American, but he was schooled in Geneva and continued to live there even after college. He supposedly is pursuing additional studies but--rumor has it--in reality is pursuing a romance with a foreign woman. Winterbourne is a good representative of the "Europeanized" Americans who populate many of Henry James's works. His years abroad have left him more familiar with Europe and Europeans than with the nation and people of his birth. As a result, Daisy's bold, flirtatious behavior strikes him as unconventional to the extreme. Accustomed to the more proper, less forward young women of Europe, he finds Daisy simultaneously attractive, vulgar, and confusing. In some ways, Winterbourne is nearly as important a character in Daisy Miller as Daisy herself, for you see Daisy entirely from his point of view--there's no scene in which he isn't present. He's the story's central intelligence (see Point of View), and Daisy Miller is in part a study of that intelligence, examining Daisy's actions but also examining Winterbourne's attempts to judge those actions. What kind of girl is this young American? To Winterbourne the puzzle is first a romantic and later an intellectual one. (In fact, his decision to judge her by his head rather than his heart is a crucial point in the story.) As you read, you'll want to decide just how reliable Winterbourne's judgments are. Do you see him as a voice of experience and reason? Or do you see him as snobbish, overly rigid, and cold? Or both? Some readers, noting Winterbourne's self-exile in Europe and his artistic sensibilities, have compared him to his creator, Henry James. Others say that James is a far more sensitive judge of character than is Winterbourne. After Daisy's death, Winterbourne realizes that his judgment of her was incorrect. She was innocent. His years in Europe have made him incapable of understanding an American girl. "I have lived too long in foreign parts," he tells his aunt. That sounds like Winterbourne is ready to change his ways, yet at the story's end, you learn that he's remained in Europe, perhaps studying, perhaps pursuing romance. Does James want you to sympathize with Winterbourne's preference for sophisticated, cultured Europe over vulgar America? Or does he want you to think that Winterbourne is simply incapable of change? Is Winterbourne sensitive and intelligent, or weak and aloof? Your decision on him will make a great deal of difference in the way you look at Daisy Miller. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: MRS. COSTELLO Mrs. Costello is Frederick Winterbourne's aunt, a headache-prone woman who moves in the highest social circles and is very selective about the company she keeps. She serves two main functions in the story. First, she's a representative of the "Europeanized Americans"--Americans who have travelled and lived so long in Europe they've adopted the customs and manners of the Europeans around them. Mrs. Costello and her crowd stand in sharp contrast to purely American tourists, like the Millers. Mrs. Costello also functions as the character called a confidant in the work of Henry James (see Point of View). Winterbourne confides in her his feelings about Daisy and her family, thus giving you a chance to hear his point of view. In turn, although she never meets the girl, Mrs. Costello furnishes Winterbourne with much of the gossip that follows in Daisy's wake. From her objections to the Miller family, you get a clear idea of what was and was not acceptable behavior at the time. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: MRS. MILLER Mrs. Miller, Daisy's mother, suffers from dyspepsia, or chronic indigestion. As you see her through Winterbourne's eyes, she is a listless, frail, and vacant character, unable to control her daughter or her son. As ignorant as Daisy of European standards, she is far less sensitive to the undercurrent of disapproval her ignorance provokes. To her, even Giovanelli is an acceptable match for Daisy until he fails to visit the feverish girl. In Winterbourne's estimation she is as different as can be from mothers in Geneva. You'll note, though, that she proves to be a hard-working and efficient nurse during Daisy's final illness--a clue, perhaps, that Winterbourne's harsh judgment of her may be as imperfect as his judgment of Daisy. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: RANDOLPH Daisy's nine-year-old brother Randolph is James's caricature of American tourists at their very worst: noisy, aggressive, and ignorant of all culture. He's also James's caricature of American children, whom James saw as being dangerously ill-mannered and undisciplined. As his family travels through Europe, Randolph's days are entirely his own. While well-to-do European boys on tour are always accompanied by their teachers and kept under tight supervision, Randolph receives no formal education and seems to have freedom to do as he pleases. Randolph has little interest in the wonders of Europe. In his estimation, everything is better in America. He stands at the opposite extreme from the Europeans and Europeanized Americans in the story. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: GIOVANELLI Giovanelli, a handsome and charming Italian lawyer, is Daisy's constant companion in the second half of the nouvelle. Though he entertains no hope of marrying her, he continues to see Daisy because she is the most beautiful and congenial young lady he has ever known. Giovanelli is the only one who recognizes Daisy's innocence, who understands that her flirtatious ways are simply a manifestation of her open American spirit. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: EUGENIO Eugenio is a courier--a man who accompanies a family and makes travel arrangements for them. Most wealthy Europeans (and Europeanized Americans) treated their couriers as servants. The Millers, though, are so unfamiliar with European manners that they treat Eugenio as a friend. This is the subject of much gossip. Even Winterbourne, when he hears Eugenio suggesting that Daisy shouldn't take a boat ride, finds himself wishing that she wouldn't let a servant tell her what to do. The Millers's open, democratic relationship with Eugenio provides another contrast between their American way of life and the more formal and rigid ways demanded by Europe. It provides, too, another cause of misunderstanding between Daisy and the people around her. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: MRS. WALKER Like her friend Frederick Winterbourne, Mrs. Walker is an American and a longtime resident of Geneva who's visiting Rome. She's established herself as a guardian of social standards among the American community. It is she who tries to prevent Daisy from walking in the Pincian Gardens with Giovanelli, and it is she who gives Daisy the cold shoulder at her party. Like Winterbourne, Mrs. Walker has lived in Europe too long to be able to understand the behavior of a young American. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: SETTING Setting is important in Daisy Miller--so much so that in some ways the nouvelle can almost be seen as a story about a clash of settings. Daisy Miller takes place entirely in Europe--the first half in Vevey, a Swiss resort on Lake Geneva, and the second in Rome. Most of its important characters, however, are American, and one of its most important themes is the way the representatives of the new world confront the experience and restrictions represented by the old. To understand Daisy Miller, then, you must understand both its actual setting--Europe in the late 1860s or early 1870s--and also its "unseen" setting, the home of its characters, America just after the Civil War. The United States was in that era a nation that was rapidly becoming industrialized and rich. The new industries and wealth worked many changes in American life. Some families found themselves suddenly catapulted into the upper classes to form a new American aristocracy. But this was not an aristocracy based on inherited nobility, as was the aristocracy in Europe, but one based strictly on money. James created a fine fictional example of such a family with the Millers of Schenectady, New York. Though their wealth allowed them to socialize in the most fashionable circles, these nouveaux riches (newly rich) lacked the education as well as the refined behavior expected in such circles. In the United States, this deficiency did not cause many problems, for numerous families were in the same position. The country was still young, without the centuries of tradition that weighed on Europe. The wealth that pushed families like the Millers into the American upper class also enabled them to travel abroad for the first time. What would happen when they arrived in Europe, where manners and social classes were far more rigid, where the aristocracy had been in place for centuries, and where a long-established group of Americans sought to fit in by behaving with the same strictness the Europeans exhibited? That question lies at the heart of Daisy Miller. Although the differences between America and Europe provide the main theme of Daisy Miller, James also takes care to make you notice the differences between one part of Europe and another. Vevey, the Swiss summer resort where the story opens, is in some ways a halfway point between America and Europe. It's so packed with travelers from the United States it could almost be an American resort; it seems less stodgy than the rest of Europe. It's a fitting setting for boat rides and walks in the garden, and a fitting place for even a Europeanized American like Winterbourne to become infatuated with a pretty American girl. The story's second setting is very different. If Vevey in the summer had been carefree, Rome in the winter is gloomily burdened with tradition. Society withdraws into galleries and drawing rooms. The Americans you meet aren't tourists but longtime residents who have made a science of European social codes and demand that everyone within their social group conform to them. Under their influence, Winterbourne--who is one of them--becomes less tolerant of Daisy's uncultivated ways. Though it was Winterbourne himself who suggested an unchaperoned visit to the Chateau de Chillon near Vevey, Daisy's unchaperoned visit to the Colosseum in Rome strikes him as shocking. Daisy Miller ends unhappily for both its hero and heroine, and in a way that reflects on its settings. By having Daisy die, and by having Winterbourne severely misunderstand her, James condemns the customs both of innocent but ignorant America and cultured but cold Europe. James does not draw a contrast between right and wrong or between good and bad, but between two very different and incompatible worlds. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: THEMES The following are themes of Daisy Miller. 1. THE AMERICAN IN EUROPE Daisy Miller is one of the first works to treat what became Henry James's most famous theme: the international theme. James was interested in the problems that result when independent and free-spirited Americans are introduced into a European society older, more sophisticated, and more restrictive. On the one hand, James admired Europe's centuries of tradition, its art, and its culture, and he deplored America's rawness and vulgarity. On the other hand, he distrusted Europe as overly refined, perhaps corrupting, and he applauded American energy, optimism, and innocence. The theme of the American in Europe has many facets in Daisy Miller: the natural versus the artificial, innocence versus knowledge, age versus youth. The characters in the story offer many variations on the theme. Daisy is a young American visiting Europe for the first time, Winterbourne a young American raised on the continent, Mrs. Costello and Mrs. Walker older Americans who have been thoroughly Europeanized. Each of them reacts to Europe and to America in different and revealing ways. 2. APPEARANCE VS. REALITY James shows you that the gap between what people believe to be true and the actual truth can be large. To the Europeanized Americans of Vevey and Rome, Daisy's independence makes her appear immoral. She agrees to an unchaperoned excursion to Chillon with Winterbourne, she treats her family's courier like a friend. She travels around Rome with known fortune hunters, flaunts her affection for Giovanelli in public, and is discovered alone with him in the Colosseum at midnight. By European standards, these actions label her a disgrace. Even Winterbourne, who at first defends Daisy as being merely ignorant of social codes rather than being deliberately immoral, becomes unable to differentiate between Daisy's reputation and her true nature, between what appears to be immoral behavior and what is in reality only youthful, American impetuousness. He, too, judges by appearances and pays for it with the guilt he feels after Daisy's death. 3. HEART VS. HEAD At first, Winterbourne is emotionally involved with the problems posed by Daisy's behavior. He's attracted to her romantically, and he wants to know that she is worthy of his affection. As the story progresses, and Daisy's behavior seems to grow wilder, his emotional curiosity cools and becomes an intellectual curiosity. Daisy becomes a riddle he wants to solve. The final triumph of Winterbourne's intellect over his emotions occurs when he discovers Daisy in the Colosseum with Giovanelli. His worst fears are (he thinks) confirmed. The puzzle of her character was almost too easy to figure out. He no longer feels anything for her. "It doesn't matter" if she is engaged or not, he tells her. His callous statement provokes a bleak reply--Daisy tells him she doesn't care if she gets Roman fever or not. It's not until after Daisy's death, when Winterbourne has come to understand that she would have appreciated his esteem, that he realizes what the triumph of his head over his heart has cost him. 4. SACRIFICE Writing to a friend about Daisy Miller, Henry James said, "The whole idea of the story is the little tragedy of a light, thin, natural, unsuspecting creature being sacrificed as it were to a social rumpus that went on quite over her head and to which she stood in no measurable relation." Daisy is, above all else, uncultivated. She has no understanding of the implications of her behavior, and in her ignorance lies her innocence. Her rejection by American society abroad and eventually Winterbourne (beginning with the symbolic scene in the Colosseum, site of Christian martyrdom) indirectly leads to her death. Daisy is a martyr to the intolerance of Europeanized Americans. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: STYLE Daisy Miller belongs to the middle period of the work of Henry James. The works of this period, says his biographer Leon Edel, "mark his emergence as a brilliant and witty observer of life on both sides of the Atlantic," and are characterized by "a preoccupation with problems of conduct"--especially the conduct of American girls. In its style, the work of this period is "minutely descriptive." Here is an example from Daisy Miller: he gradually gave him more of the benefit of her glance, and then he saw that this glance was perfectly direct and unshrinking. It was not, however, what would have been called an immodest glance, for the young girl's eyes were singularly honest and fresh. They were wonderfully pretty eyes, and, indeed, Winterbourne had not seen for a long time anything prettier than his fair countrywoman's various features--her complexion, her nose, her ears, her teeth. He had a great relish for feminine beauty; he was addicted to observing and analysing it; and as regards this young lady's face he made several observations. It was not at all insipid, but it was not exactly expressive; and though it was eminently delicate Winterbourne mentally accused it--very forgivingly--of a want of finish. What does this minutely descriptive passage achieve? First, it draws a very precise portrait of Daisy and of the kind of girl Winterbourne believes Daisy to be--fresh and lovely, but lacking the polish he's used to in European women. It establishes Winterbourne as a careful--but perhaps overly refined--observer of women. And by taking so much time to describe small details of appearance and behavior, James gives these details great importance. On the surface, the events James describes may seem trivial--boating trips, parties, carriage rides. But thanks in large part to his painstaking description of them, they become, in Daisy Miller, matters of life and death. While James's gift for choosing the exact words to express the subtle shades of meaning he wants to portray has earned him the status of a master prose stylist, his writing can be difficult at first. It demands much of the reader. James employs an enormous vocabulary, which includes archaic English words and expressions borrowed from foreign languages. Daisy Miller offers numerous examples. Winterbourne "chops logic," (argues a minute point). "Elle s'affiche," says Mrs. Walker, using a French phrase to mean that Daisy is making a scene. This richness of vocabulary is, of course, perfectly suited to his tales of wealthy, sophisticated people in cosmopolitan settings. When James revised Daisy Miller in 1909 for the collection of his novels and tales known as the New York Edition, he added more nature imagery in describing Daisy, reinforcing an impression of her as a natural child of the new world rather lost in the cities of the old. He also made changes that reflected his growing interest in psychology. Abstractions replaced people as the subjects of sentences: "He was a man of conscience" became "His conception of certain special duties and decencies ... was strong...." The reality of things, one reader explains, was replaced with their appearances. "What she said aloud was..." became "...the form she gave her doubt was...." These changes place greater emphasis on--and make more complex--the interior psychological life of the characters. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: POINT OF VIEW Point of view refers to the position from which a story is told. One of the greatest impacts James had on modern literature was through his experiments in point of view. Up until his writing, fiction was frequently written from the point of view of an omniscient (all knowing) third-person narrator who was separate from the action of the story but who could describe or comment on any part of the story at any time. What James did was to create a character who became involved in the action of the story, then use that character to tell the story--not necessarily by writing in the first person (Daisy Miller, for example, is a third-person narrative) but nevertheless by filtering the events of the story through that character's thoughts and feelings. This character is often called the central intelligence. The central intelligence is not always the main character. In Daisy Miller, for example, the main character is Daisy, but the central intelligence is Frederick Winterbourne. He doesn't narrate the book--it's narrated in the third person. But you see everything from his point of view. There is no scene in which he is not present. And having him serve as the central intelligence gives Daisy Miller a slant it might not otherwise have. Unlike a separate, omniscient narrator, the central intelligence is biased by experience. For example, Winterbourne's opinion of Daisy is biased both by his romantic interest in her and by his European upbringing. How reliable is he as a judge of Daisy's character? That's a question you'll want to keep in mind as you read the story. Once he had created a character (such as Winterbourne) from whose point of view the story could be seen, James generally preferred not to enter that character's mind, but instead had him express his own thoughts aloud--almost as if he were a character in a play. To this end James created another character type, the confidant, as a sounding board. The central intelligence comes to the confidant to talk. The confidant is not as personally involved in the matter and can consider a situation or give advice from a more objective position. James uses the confidant to develop the thoughts of the central intelligence and to give that character an opportunity to express those thoughts, so you can hear them. In Daisy Miller, Winterbourne's confidant is his aunt, Mrs. Costello. In his discussions with her, Winterbourne learns much of the gossip about the Millers. In describing and defending Daisy to his aunt, he is forced to organize his ideas and clarify his position. Although she never meets Daisy, Mrs. Costello voices many opinions that make Winterbourne think. James's use of Mrs. Costello as Winterbourne's confidant deepens your understanding of him, as well as your understanding of his point of view. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: FORM AND STRUCTURE There's considerable disagreement about the form of Daisy Miller. You'll hear it called a nouvelle, a short story, a short novel, and a tale. Let's look at what those terms meant to Henry James. James used the word "story" to mean any narrative, whether it was a few pages or a few hundred pages in length. He called his long narratives "novels" and his short narratives "tales." Most of his tales range from 10,000 to 20,000 words. When James wrote Daisy Miller in the 1870s, the form you now know as the short story was just becoming widely popular in the magazines of the day. The magazine publishers preferred these stories to be from about 6,000 to 8,000 words long. James found that restriction difficult to follow. Indeed, his tendency to write longer tales kept him out of a great many magazines. Daisy Miller is a story but not really a short story. James also referred to it as a nouvelle--a French word for the literary form also called (using an Italian word) a novella. The nouvelle is longer than a short story, but shorter than a full-fledged novel. That's a flexible definition, but that flexibility is one of the things that appealed to James about the form, one of the reasons he once called the nouvelle "beautiful and blest." He could make a nouvelle long or short depending on the needs of the narrative rather than on the demands of a magazine publisher. Daisy Miller, he says in one of the prefaces he wrote to the New York Edition of his works, is "pre-eminently a nouvelle; a signal example in fact of the type." James's nouvelles differ from his novels. In the nouvelle he makes extensive use of narrative summary--that is, he often describes events rather than dramatizing them in detail, and he foreshortens time in order to achieve compactness. For example, many of Daisy's experiences in Rome are related very quickly and in no detail; weeks pass in only a few pages. Daisy Miller does of course, contain dramatic elements also--scenes like the one at Mrs. Walker's party are dramatized and fleshed out as they would be in a full-length novel. Daisy Miller is also a highly, if simply, structured work. The story divides in half almost exactly. The first half is set in Vevey, the second in Rome. At the beginning of each half, Winterbourne and Daisy meet in a foreign locale. Toward the end of each half, Daisy makes an unchaperoned excursion with a young man to a point of historical interest--first with Winterbourne to Chillon, later with Giovanelli to the Colosseum. In each half, her excursion has consequences. In the first, it earns her a bad reputation. In the second, it leads to her death. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: SECTION I Daisy Miller opens in the Swiss town of Vevey (pronounced "veh-VAY"), on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The landscape includes two striking features; a mountain to the south called Dent du Midi ("tooth of the south"); and a small, rocky island in Lake Geneva. Vevey is a resort town, and its lakefront is lined with hotels. There are so many Americans here in the summer that a visitor might mistake it for Newport, Rhode Island or Saratoga Springs, New York, which were both popular resorts for the wealthy in the late 19th century. The best of Vevey's hotels, the Trois Couronnes ("Three Crowns"), could be Newport's Ocean House or Saratoga's Congress Hall were it not for the German waiters, the views of a snowy mountaintop, or the Russian princesses in the garden. It is in the lovely garden of this hotel, on a beautiful summer morning, that you meet Frederick Winterbourne. Sent to school in Geneva as a boy, Winterbourne stayed on to attend college, and has lived in Geneva ever since. The official reason for his continued residence is study, but the rumor is that he is very attached to an older woman. NOTE: James refers to Geneva as the "little metropolis of Calvinism" because in the mid-16th century the French theologian Jean Calvin (1509-1564) set up a Protestant community there. Calvin's strict religious standards provided a clear alternative to the lax morality of the times, and they influenced even the social relationships of the citizens of Geneva. With this pious history, Geneva sits in marked contrast to Vevey, now under the influence of uninhibited American tourists. How do you think several years' residence in this "little metropolis of Calvinism" has affected the moral standards of Frederick Winterbourne? Winterbourne has come to visit his aunt, who is at the Trois Couronnes. Because she's in bed with a headache when he arrives--she suffers headaches frequently--he's left to amuse himself. In the garden he's approached by a nine--or ten-year-old boy dressed in a Swiss costume, complete with alpenstock, a long staff used in mountain climbing. The boy stops in front of where Winterbourne is sitting with his coffee tray and asks if he may have the leftover sugar. Winterbourne offers him one piece. The boy takes three. When Winterbourne remarks that sugar is not good for the teeth, the boy answers that he has no teeth. Although he's at an age when children lose their baby teeth naturally, the boy blames his loss on Europe--its climate, its hotels, and its candy. Everything, he says, is better in America. Walking along the path toward them is the boy's sister. You now glimpse Daisy Miller for the first time. She is wearing a white dress covered with ribbons and bows and--although women of that time almost always wore hats--she is bareheaded, carrying instead a large parasol to shield her from the sun. She is, Winterbourne thinks, "strikingly" pretty. Daisy stops near Winterbourne, but her attention is focused on her brother, Randolph, who is pole vaulting through the garden on his alpenstock, sending gravel flying in all directions. Winterbourne wants to talk to this pretty American girl, but he doesn't. Among the upper classes in the late 19th century, it was considered bad manners for a young man to speak to a young, unmarried woman before they had been formally introduced by a third party, such as a relative or a friend of the family. Although social conventions were much stricter in James's day than in ours, Winterbourne's dilemma may be familiar to you even today. How do you strike up a conversation with someone without seeming too forward? How friendly can you be without seeming like you are trying to get "picked up"? Perhaps because he and the young woman are staying in a relatively casual summer resort, Winterbourne takes more liberties than he would in Geneva. He tries to interrupt Daisy's conversation with her brother. But it's an awkward process. She seems to be ignoring all his pleasant questions about her travel plans. He wonders if his forward behavior has offended her. But Daisy is neither embarrassed nor offended. Soon she is talking to him happily, giving him the chance to admire her. She's fresh, youthful, and beautiful, though perhaps lacking the kind of sophistication he's used to in European women. Introductions are made--not with the formality Winterbourne is accustomed to, but haphazardly and noisily by the young boy, Randolph Miller. His sister is called Daisy, though her real name is Annie P. Miller. Daisy would like her brother to ask Winterbourne his name, but the boy is too busy bragging about the Miller family. Their father, he says, is "in a better place than Europe." Winterbourne fears that Randolph means Mr. Miller has died and gone to heaven, but in fact the "better place" Randolph is talking about is Schenectady, New York, where Mr. Miller runs a large and profitable business. NOTE: James is drawing a funny and not very flattering portrait of an American family traveling in Europe. The image of Americans abroad as loud, overly patriotic, and unsophisticated is often noted by readers of Henry James. You might want to consider whether Americans abroad today resemble James's description. Randolph leaves them, and Daisy chatters on as if she has known Winterbourne for a long time. Europe is just as she had expected, she says. Her only disappointment is in the lack of society--particularly after the whirlwind social life she led in New York. "I have always had," she explains, "a great deal of gentlemen's society." Daisy is like no other young woman that Winterbourne has ever met. No young woman in Geneva would ever speak this way--in Geneva such a remark would be seen as evidence of social misconduct. Winterbourne wonders if he has lived in Geneva too long, if he no longer understands the "American tone." Is Daisy a pretty, charming, and sociable girl, or is she a scheming and dangerous young woman? Winterbourne suspects she is nothing more than an American flirt. Daisy tells Winterbourne how her plans to see the Chateau de Chillon have been foiled by her mother's ill health and Randolph's not wanting to go. When she suggests that he stay with Randolph so she and her mother can visit the castle, Winterbourne replies that he would much rather go to the castle with her. A young woman in Geneva would have leapt to her feet, blushing, at Winterbourne's suggestion, but Daisy does not appear offended. Worried, though, that he has gone too far, Winterbourne adds, "With your mother." But Daisy doesn't seem to notice either the outrageousness of his suggestion or the respect with which he attempts to repair the blunder. NOTE: The Chateau de Chillon was built in medieval times on a rocky island in Lake Geneva. During the course of this story, it is referred to as "the Chateau," or "Chillon," or simply "the castle." It is well-known as the setting of the 1816 poem entitled "The Prisoner of Chillon" by the English poet, Lord Byron. The speaker in that dramatic monologue is a champion of human liberty named Franois de Bonivard. As she tries to work out a plan, Daisy mentions that if her mother stays behind, then Eugenio will too. (Eugenio is the Miller family's courier, a servant engaged to make travel arrangements.) It dawns on Winterbourne that Daisy's plan is for the two of them to go, unchaperoned. At that moment a tall, handsome man approaches, bows to Daisy, and announces lunch. It is Eugenio. The courier looks Winterbourne up and down. When Daisy informs Eugenio that she has made arrangements to visit the castle after all, he looks back at Winterbourne in a manner that Winterbourne finds most offensive. His look implies that Daisy is in the habit of "picking up" men, and that Winterbourne is one of her "pick ups." As a guarantee of respectability, Winterbourne offers to present a person who can tell Daisy all about him. He is referring to his aunt. Although he resents the courier's look of disapproval, Winterbourne's offer to present his aunt seems to acknowledge the impropriety of the excursion that he suggested. Promising they will go to the castle someday, Daisy smiles and walks back to the inn with Eugenio. As he looks after her, Winterbourne thinks she has the figure of a princess. NOTE: As you read this opening scene, observe how efficiently James has established some of the characters and themes of his story. You quickly see that Winterbourne is attracted to Daisy. But you also see that he's extremely aware of the social restrictions of the day. Daisy, on the other hand, seems unaware of any kind of restrictions at all. Winterbourne worries that he's offended her by talking to her without an introduction, but Daisy is not offended--she's simply distracted. She couldn't care less about the rules of polite conversation. You soon see that she is just as unconcerned about many other social rules--about traveling with a man unchaperoned, or about being unduly friendly with servants. Her manners strike Winterbourne as almost dangerous. In other ways, though, she reminds him of a princess. The puzzle of Daisy's character will occupy Winterbourne for the rest of the story. Note, too, Daisy's comment to Winterbourne: that she would never have taken him for an American. The question of Winterbourne's character--whether he hasn't become more European than American--will be another continuing theme of the story. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: SECTION II Winterbourne goes to see his aunt, Mrs. Costello, as soon as her headache abates. He mentions the Miller family in hopes that she'll allow him to introduce Daisy to her as he promised. But Mrs. Costello has already noticed the Millers and she wants nothing to do with them. She cannot welcome such common people into the exclusive circles in which she travels. Daisy may be pretty and may dress in the best of taste, but Mrs. Costello is horrified by the fact that they treat their courier more like a friend or a gentleman than a servant. Winterbourne admits to having been charmed by Daisy, and his aunt expresses her hope that they were "properly" introduced. At his admission that they "simply met" in the garden and talked, Mrs. Costello is aghast. He explains that he's offered to introduce her to Daisy to guarantee his respectability. His aunt snaps back, "And pray who is to guarantee hers?" Winterbourne defends Daisy, saying that she may lack culture but she is very pretty and very nice. He confides his plans to take Daisy to the Chateau, and Mrs. Costello is outraged. She reminds Winterbourne that he has been away from the United States for a very long time, and warns him not to "meddle with little American girls who are uncultivated." Winterbourne asks if her refusal to meet Daisy is final, and she asks, in turn, if it's true that Daisy is going alone with him to the Castle. When he answers that Daisy fully intends to go, she declines "the honour" of the acquaintance, saying that she is not too old to be shocked. Winterbourne makes one last stab at casting Daisy in a favorable light, and suggests that perhaps all American girls behave as Daisy does. Mrs. Costello knows better: her granddaughters in New York do not. The comparison is enlightening for Winterbourne. His cousins are notorious flirts. If Daisy is worse than they are, who knows what she might not do? NOTE: This scene provides a good example of the interaction of the characters known as the central intelligence and the confidant in the works of Henry James. In Daisy Miller, Winterbourne is the central intelligence and Mrs. Costello is the confidant. As Winterbourne confides his feelings about Daisy to Mrs. Costello you hear firsthand what his thoughts are, rather than getting them secondhand from a narrator. Winterbourne is torn. He is eager to see Daisy again, but he doesn't know how to explain his aunt's refusal to meet her. When he comes upon Daisy in the garden that evening, she tells him she's heard all about his aunt: Mrs. Costello is very comme il faut (proper), very exclusive, never eats at the table d'hote (the common table in the hotel dining room), and is plagued by headaches. Not realizing that she has stumbled onto a sensitive subject, Daisy rattles on, saying that she can't wait to meet the woman. When Winterbourne says that his aunt's headaches will prevent a meeting, Daisy is not put off. She reasons that his aunt can't possibly have a headache every day. NOTE: A European influence on the American characters is evident in the language of this section. Along with the phrases, comme il faut and table d'hote, you'll also find the following: rouleaux, a small roll or coil; Tout bonnement! "Just like that!"; tete a tete, private conversation; oubliette, a dungeon with an opening only at the top. Such language is another indication of the cosmopolitan, sophisticated world that James's characters inhabit. Winterbourne is in the position he has been dreading. Not knowing what else to say, he replies that his aunt claims she does have a headache every day. Finally, Daisy understands. With a little laugh, she asks why he didn't just come out and tell her that his aunt doesn't want to meet her. Daisy's voice sounds a little shaky, and Winterbourne is mortified. The last thing he wants is to hurt this lovely girl's feelings. Again, he pretends his aunt's health is to blame. He claims she meets no one. Daisy's mother appears at the end of the garden, and when she doesn't approach the pair, Winterbourne offers to leave. Always sensitive to the social niceties, he worries that his presence might be upsetting Mrs. Miller. Daisy urges him to remain. Mrs. Miller says nothing in response to Daisy's introduction of Winterbourne, nor does she look at Winterbourne as Daisy chatters about the troubles Randolph has caused on the trip. Daisy mentions her plans to visit the Castle. When Mrs. Miller says nothing in response, Winterbourne assumes that she is very displeased. It's a natural reaction. Consider the disapproval just shown by his aunt on the same subject--and Mrs. Costello doesn't even have a mother's interest in protecting Daisy's reputation. Daisy wanders a few steps ahead of them, and Winterbourne and Mrs. Miller have a tricky conversation. You know all along what Winterbourne is thinking. He hasn't given up his hope of going, unchaperoned, with Daisy to Chillon. First he tries to discover how strongly Mrs. Miller opposes the trip, and then he tries to impress her with his respectful behavior. Mrs. Miller is a "simple. easily-managed person", he thinks, and he expects that politeness will temper her reaction against the outing. But Mrs. Miller seems too listless to care about Daisy's outing at all. She knows that she doesn't want to go to Chillon. The trip is too strenuous, and in any case she wants to see only the most important castles in Europe. Chillon is not as important as those she saw in England, or the ones ahead in Italy. (Here James is poking fun at American tourists, who only want to see sights other tourists have told them are important.) If Daisy wants to see the castle, she'll have to go unchaperoned with Winterbourne. Winterbourne is utterly amazed. A mother in Geneva would never think of allowing her daughter to go off for the day with a young man. NOTE: Modern readers sometimes have difficulty understanding the strict social codes that governed behavior in Daisy's day, and Henry James doesn't always spell them out. But you can learn a great deal from passages such as this one in which Winterbourne compares the behavior of Daisy and her mother to what he would expect in Geneva. Winterbourne's thoughts are interrupted when Daisy asks if he would take her out in a boat. He thinks she must be teasing, but he offers to row her to Chillon by the light of the stars. Mrs. Miller is shocked--not by the idea of a boat ride alone with a young man, but by the idea of a boat ride at eleven o'clock at night. Eugenio appears and urges Daisy to heed her mother. Winterbourne wishes she wouldn't listen to advice from a servant--another example of the way he shares the European awareness of class differences more than the American ignorance of them. When Eugenio finally yields to her wish, Daisy decides she doesn't want to go after all. She was hoping, she says, for more of a fuss--that was all she wanted. Offering her hand to Winterbourne, she says "Good night. I hope you are disappointed, or disgusted, or something!" Winterbourne is completely mystified. When he and Daisy meet for their excursion to Chillon a few days later, Winterbourne hopes they've begun a romantic adventure. But he looks in vain for this same sense of romance in Daisy. Still, she is beautiful and if her nonstop talk is mostly shallow, he finds it charmingly so. Daisy, on her part, seems to find Winterbourne almost as mysterious as he finds her. To her, he looks grim--yet he tells her he's never been happier in his life. "You're a queer mixture," she says to him. The manners he minds are those of the Europeans. Winterbourne tips the guide so that they can proceed through the tour at their own pace. The guide misinterprets the generosity as a sign that the couple would like to be alone, so Winterbourne is left to tell Daisy what he knows about the castle. Daisy is far less interested in old castles than she is in Winterbourne. After hearing the story of Bonivard, "The Prisoner of Chillon," Daisy wishes Winterbourne would travel with her family and tutor Randolph. When he explains that commitments require his return to Geneva the next day, she becomes visibly upset. Daisy, it turns out, has heard the rumor about Winterbourne's "mysterious charmer" in Geneva. Unable to contain her jealousy, she berates him for his relationship with the woman. "Does she never allow you more than three days at a time?... Doesn't she give you a vacation in the summer?" Winterbourne is amazed by Daisy's treatment of the subject. She seems "an extraordinary mixture of innocence and crudity." Earlier in their trip, Winterbourne had wished that Daisy would seem more emotionally involved with him. Here he gets his wish. She offers to stop her attack if he will promise to visit her in Rome during the winter, Winterbourne has already planned to visit his aunt, who has taken an apartment there for the winter, and when he says he will come to Rome, Daisy drops the subject. Their ride back to Vevey is a quiet one. When Winterbourne tells his aunt that he spent the afternoon with Daisy at Chillon, Mrs. Costello asks if she went with him "all alone." When he replies, "All alone," her worst fears are confirmed. She takes out a bottle of smelling salts and exclaims, "And that is the young person you wanted me to know!" NOTE: Daisy is becoming more and more mysterious to Winterbourne. He doesn't know what to expect from her. First she claims to want to go on a boatride, then says she only wanted to create a fuss. Daisy's comments about being accustomed to men's society in America make her sound romantically experienced, but on the trip to Chillon she doesn't act romantically toward him, However, she is dearly upset when he tells hers he's leaving to return to Geneva. What do you think of Daisy at this point? Is she a flirt? If so, is she a calculating and dangerous flirt, or merely an innocent one? How sound are Winterbourne's judgments of her? ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: SECTION III In the second half of Daisy Miller, Mrs. Costello takes up residence in Rome for the winter and writes to Winterbourne to suggest a visit. She mentions that Daisy, who spends much of her time with "third rate Italians," is the subject of a great deal of gossip. NOTE: In her letter, Mrs. Costello requests a copy of Paule Mere, a novel by Victor Cherbuliez, published in Geneva in 1865. Daisy Miller bears a number of similarities to this work. A young woman's name serves as the title of each book. Both stories begin in a Swiss hotel and end in Italy, and deal with the prejudices of European society. Both heroines are spirited and independent and are slandered because of unchaperoned outings with a man. But Paule is not as "natural" a young woman as Daisy, and her story is a very sentimental one, whereas Daisy's reflects greater subtleties and complexities. James reviewed Paule Mere for The Nation when it appeared in 1865 and it seems likely that the novel, at least in part, suggested the events of Daisy Miller. When Winterbourne arrives in Rome, Mrs. Costello gives him more details about Daisy. Not only does the girl go around with her foreign friends unchaperoned, she has "picked up" half a dozen of the regular Roman fortune hunters and takes them with her to other people's homes. NOTE: Fortune hunters are people who hope to gain wealth by marrying into money. In the nineteenth century, Americans traveling in Europe were among their favorite prey, because Americans were thought to be wealthy but unsophisticated. Often the fortune hunters would pretend to be members of European nobility, thus claiming they could bring a title of nobility--even if no money--to the marriage. Some Americans, however, reversed the chase: they wanted to marry European nobility nearly as much as European fortune hunters wanted to marry American millionaires. Newspaper society pages frequently featured the exploits of title-seeking American heiresses. Once again, Winterbourne finds himself in the position of defending the Millers. He says they are "very ignorant--very innocent only. Depend on it they are not bad." Mrs. Costello, who seems to make no distinction between manners and morals, maintains that the Millers are "vulgar," and "bad enough to dislike." Winterbourne had imagined Daisy pining away, awaiting his arrival. He decides not to visit her right away, and goes instead to see Mrs. Walker, an American friend from Geneva, who is staying on the Via Gregoriana. NOTE: The second half of Daisy Miller is set in Rome and is filled with references to Roman landmarks. The Via Gregoriana is a fashionable street near the Spanish Steps. The Pincio, also called the Pincian Hill, affords a good view of the city and is the site of the large public Pincian Gardens. Villa Borghese is a large, seventeenth-century palace, surrounded by a park. Moments after his arrival at Mrs. Walker's, a servant announces "Madame Mila," ("Madame Miller" pronounced in a heavy Italian accent). It's Daisy, her mother, and her brother. James continues to use Randolph Miller in particular to make fun of American tourists in general. Randolph is just as loud, rude, and greedy as he was in Switzerland, and just as sure that nothing in Europe can possibly be as good as what the Millers own in Schenectady. "We've got a bigger place than this," he says now. "It's all gold on the walls." At the sound of Winterbourne's voice, Daisy turns in surprise. He reminds her of his promise to come to Rome, but Daisy only complains about his not having been to see her. He is reminded of something he once heard about pretty American women: that they are "at once the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness." That is, they demand many favors of men but never thank men for them. Do you think that's an apt description of Daisy? Daisy accepts an invitation to an upcoming party at Mrs. Walker's house and wonders if she might bring Mr. Giovanelli, "an intimate friend." Mrs. Walker glances at Winterbourne--a sign, perhaps, that in their social circles young ladies do not make friends with unknown Italians, much less create suspicion by calling their friendship "intimate." Still, Mrs. Walker says she would be happy to have Mr. Giovanelli at her party. Mrs. Miller prepares to leave, and Daisy urges her to go home alone. Daisy plans to walk to the Pincio. Mrs. Walker advises against walking through the throngs of carriages and pedestrians; Mrs. Miller worries that Daisy might catch the Roman fever. Daisy assures them that she will be quite safe, for she will be meeting a friend. Mrs. Walker asks bluntly if "the friend" is Mr. Giovanelli. Winterbourne listens keenly for the answer. "Mr Giovanelli," Daisy answers, "the beautiful Giovanelli." Daisy asks Winterbourne to walk with her, and he winds up in the unenviable position of escorting her to meet another man. Daisy attracts a great deal of admiration from the passing crowd. Her experience of Rome, she says, has been unlike her experience of the rest of Europe. She loves the society, the people, and all the activity. Her family, she says, plans to stay all winter "if we don't die of the fever." NOTE: This scene offers a good example of foreshadowing, a technique James uses often. Here, the subject of Roman fever comes up. First Daisy's mother warns her that Giovanelli cannot protect her from the fever; then Daisy predicts a long stay in Rome if she doesn't die of the fever first. The talk of Roman fever foreshadows crucial events later in the story. At the gate of the Pincian Gardens, Daisy looks around for Giovanelli. A short distance away stands a little man with "a handsome face, an artfully poised hat, a glass in one eye and a nosegay in his buttonhole." Winterbourne announces that he won't leave Daisy alone with this character, but Daisy answers that she has never "allowed a gentleman to dictate" to her. Giovanelli spots the pair, hurries over, and bows. After introducing the two men, Daisy strolls with one on each arm. Giovanelli has no doubt expected an intimate rendezvous, not a threesome. As they walk, he talks polite nonsense to Daisy. Winterbourne is struck by "that profundity of Italian cleverness which enables people to appear more gracious in proportion as they are more acutely disappointed." He curses Giovanelli's good looks. Certain that Giovanelli is not a gentleman, Winterbourne wonders for a moment what Giovanelli might really be: a third-rate artist? a music master? Winterbourne is annoyed that Daisy cannot tell the difference between a real gentleman--like Winterbourne--and an imitation. A "nice girl" should be able to tell the difference. But is Daisy a nice girl? Would a nice girl behave in such a way? She seems to want to flaunt her rendezvous with this Italian low-life by meeting him here, in broad daylight in the busiest section of Rome. Daisy is not a well-behaved young lady, Winterbourne tells himself. Therefore, he must dismiss the possibility of establishing a serious, socially acceptable involvement with her. All he can hope for is a "lawless passion"--a cheap, tawdry romance. Yet at the same time she doesn't seem immoral. Though she's meeting her supposed lover, she apparently doesn't mind Winterbourne's being along. If she did, Winterbourne would have a reason to like her a little less. If he liked her a little less, he might not wonder so much about her. Instead she remains as puzzling as ever, "an inscrutable combination of audacity and innocence." An open, horse-drawn carriage leaves the mainstream of traffic and pulls up beside them. It's Mrs. Walker. She waves Winterbourne over to her. She is flushed and excited. "That girl must not do this sort of thing," she says of Daisy's unchaperoned walk with the two men. "Fifty people have noticed her." Mrs. Walker is afraid that Daisy's reputation will be ruined, that she will be cast out of society. She suggests that they get Daisy into the carriage, drive around so people can see that she is "not running absolutely wild," and then take her home. Winterbourne predicts failure, but he catches up with Daisy and leads her to the carriage. The understated but emotion-charged scene that follows is typical of the best of James. In it you see a dramatic confrontation between two very different sets of manners and values--Mrs. Walker's formal and European, and Daisy's carefree and American. Mrs. Walker suggests that Daisy get in the carriage, but Daisy replies that she prefers walking--especially in the company of two gentlemen. Mrs. Walker explains that in Rome it is not the custom for a young woman to walk unchaperoned. Daisy replies that it should be. "And then you know," she adds with a laugh, "I am more than five years old." Mrs. Walker finds Daisy's response maddening. "You are old enough" she announces, "to be more reasonable. You are old enough, Miss Miller, to be talked about." Daisy asks what she means, and Mrs. Walker offers to tell her if she gets into the carriage. With a look at each of her escorts, Daisy says she doesn't think she wants to know. NOTE: Some readers have used this passage to point out a possibly less positive aspect of Daisy's innocence. If knowledge is unpleasant, she doesn't want to have it. What do you think of this attitude? Are Mrs. Walker's rules the kind it's better not to know? Or is Daisy being dangerously immature by ignoring the social reality they represent? Giovanelli straightens his gloves, laughs, and bows. He is clearly uncomfortable. Winterbourne wishes Mrs. Walker would just drive away, but she doesn't give up. "Should you prefer being thought a very reckless girl?" She asks Daisy. Daisy blushes, and turns to Winterbourne. He tells her he thinks she should get into the carriage. Daisy has never heard anything so stiff in her life. She announces that if walking around with a gentleman is considered improper, then she will just have to be improper, for she doesn't plan to give it up. Mrs. Walker is stunned and hurt. Winterbourne joins her and remarks frankly that she was not "clever" and has only succeeded in alienating Daisy. Mrs. Walker thinks it's for the best. If Daisy is determined to "compromise herself," she herself would like to know so she can "act accordingly." Daisy has gone too far, doing "everything that is not done here. Flirting with any man she could pick up; sitting in corners with mysterious Italians; dancing all night with the same partners; receiving visits at eleven o'clock at night." Winterbourne tells Mrs. Walker that they have probably lived in Geneva too long. He means that they are no longer Americans in spirit. Mrs. Walker offers to stop the carriage if Winterbourne wants to catch up with Daisy. With a toss of her head, she indicates a gentleman and a lady looking out over a view of the Villa Borghese palace and its large park. It's Daisy and Giovanelli. Winterbourne gets out. Daisy and Giovanelli do not notice him--they are completely absorbed in each other. Winterbourne watches as Giovanelli sits down on the broad ledge of the parapet, takes Daisy's parasol out of her hands, and opens it. Daisy moves closer to Giovanelli, who holds the parasol and lets it rest on her shoulder, shielding both their heads from a bright shaft of sunlight and from Winterbourne's view. Daisy and Giovanelli seem determined to justify Mrs. Walker's bad opinion of them. Though James doesn't give you Winterbourne's thoughts here, he doesn't need to. You know they're not favorable to Daisy because Winterbourne chooses not to walk toward the couple but goes toward the house of his aunt, Mrs. Costello--who, like Mrs. Walker, is a guardian of the social rules Daisy prefers to ignore. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER: SECTION IV For days, Winterbourne tries in vain to see Daisy at her hotel. Finally, the day of Mrs. Walker's party arrives, and although Winterbourne and Mrs. Walker did not part at the Pincian Gardens on the best of terms, he goes in hope of seeing Daisy there. When Daisy's mother arrives, Winterbourne overhears her say that she has come unescorted because Daisy and Giovanelli can't tear themselves away from the piano. Mrs. Walker is incensed. She suspects this is Daisy's revenge for her meddling at the Pincio, and she decides the time has come to carry out her threat to "act accordingly." She confides her plan to Winterbourne: "When she comes I shall not speak to her." NOTE: In this section of Daisy Miller, you find many more examples of James's rich vocabulary. The French and Italian phrases are as follows: Elle s'affiche, "She is making a scene"; tete a tete, "private conversation"; cavaliere avvocato, gentleman lawyer; marchese, marquis; qui se passe ses fantaises, "who behaves according to her whims"; and du meilleur monde, "of the best society." The English words or expressions that may be unfamiliar to you are as follows: barber's block, a wooden model of a head used for fitting wigs; chopping logic, arguing points of minute distinction; cicerone, a guide for sightseers; circus, an arena used for athletic contests and other spectacles; and miasma, a heavy atmosphere. Daisy finally arrives with Giovanelli. Everyone at the party stops and stares as she rustles forward to greet Mrs. Walker, claiming she is late because Giovanelli had to practice some songs before coming. Looking around the room, she asks, "Is there any one I know?" Mrs. Walker can't resist this opportunity to make a snide remark, and answers, "I think everyone knows you!" She means that Daisy's behavior in the last few weeks has been so outrageous, that the entire American community has heard of her--but they haven't heard good things. Giovanelli seems to fit his role of handsome Italian fortune hunter perfectly. Although she has claimed to admire his singing, Daisy talks while he is performing--a clue, perhaps, that she isn't as infatuated with him as everyone thinks she is. She approaches Winterbourne at first as if nothing had happened between them, then remarks, "I hope you enjoyed your drive with Mrs. Walker." In the scene that follows, James masterfully demonstrates how misunderstandings are building between Winterbourne and Daisy. If you've ever misunderstood--or been misunderstood by--someone you like, you'll probably appreciate James's skill here. Appearance and reality are at odds, in part because neither of them knows when the other is speaking truthfully. Winterbourne tells Daisy that he preferred walking with her to riding with Mrs. Walker. Daisy criticizes Mrs. Walker's expecting her "to get into the carriage and drop poor Mr. Giovanelli; and under the pretext that it was proper. People have different ideas!" That, of course, could be the theme of this scene and of Daisy Miller as a whole: the different ideas people have about right and wrong. That Daisy might have her own ideas of what is proper is something that Mrs. Walker (and even Winterbourne) can't really understand, just as Daisy can't understand their rules about the way a young lady should behave. Winterbourne won't side with Daisy. He declares that her "habits" are those of a flirt. Daisy replies, "Of course they are," adding that all nice girls are flirts. When she wonders if Winterbourne considers her a nice girl, he responds with more conviction than you might expect: "You're a very nice girl, but I wish you would flirt with me, and me only." In Winterbourne's candid remark, you hear one reason for his shifting impression of Daisy's behavior. While he was the object of her attention, Winterbourne was willing to be flexible, to be almost "American" in his approach to decorum. But as Daisy focuses her attention on another man, Winterbourne becomes increasingly intolerant of her free-spirited ways. Winterbourne begs Daisy to stop flirting with Giovanelli, and he explains that flirting is an American custom that doesn't exist in Europe. She may be flirting, he says, but Mr. Giovanelli is not. When Daisy claims that she and Giovanelli are "very intimate friends," Winterbourne thinks she means they've gone beyond the flirting stage, and says, "Ah! if you are in love with each other it is another affair." Daisy appears deeply offended by his remark. (That may indicate to you that Winterbourne's judgment isn't as correct as he believes.) Winterbourne thinks that American flirts are "the queerest creatures in the world." Giovanelli finishes at the piano and asks Daisy to join him for tea. Saying she prefers weak tea to Winterbourne's advice, Daisy walks off with Giovanelli and spends the rest of the evening with him. When Daisy approaches to say good night, Mrs. Walker has a chance to show her disapproval. Without a word, she turns her back on Daisy, leaving the girl to exit with whatever grace she can muster. Daisy turns pale and looks at her mother, but Mrs. Miller is unaware of the snub. It doesn't escape the notice of Winterbourne, however, who sees that Daisy is too shocked and puzzled to be indignant. "That was very cruel," he says to Mrs. Walker, who replies, "She never enters my drawing room again." Winterbourne goes frequently to see Daisy at her hotel, but the Millers are rarely in. When they are, Giovanelli is always present. Daisy is forever teasing him and flirting with him, but seems neither embarrassed nor annoyed by an interruption. She seems as happy to chatter with two men as with one, and her conversation is "the same odd mixture of audacity and puerility." But Winterbourne has come to expect the unexpected from Daisy, and he is beginning to feel as if she has no more surprises for him. Increasingly, his curiosity about her is becoming more intellectual than romantic, and he has decided that she is a puzzle easily solved. At St. Peter's one afternoon, Winterbourne notices the pair and points them out to Mrs. Costello. Mrs. Costello asks if Daisy's "intrigue with that little barber's block" is what has been upsetting him. Winterbourne is surprised to hear how preoccupied he has appeared. He wonders aloud if an affair conducted so publicly could be called an intrigue, but Mrs. Costello argues that many people say Daisy is "quite carried away" by Giovanelli. Daisy probably thinks he is the most elegant man she has ever seen. Mrs. Costello even suspects that Eugenio arranged the meeting, and that he stands to receive a large commission if Giovanelli and Daisy ever marry. Winterbourne disagrees. Daisy wouldn't think of marrying Giovanelli, he says, nor does the Italian think of marrying her. Mrs. Costello assures him that Daisy thinks of nothing, and she says he shouldn't be surprised to hear that Daisy is engaged. Winterbourne now finds himself in the unlikely position of defending Giovanelli. He confides to his aunt what he has learned in making inquiries. Giovanelli is a respectable cavaliere avvocato, a gentleman lawyer with no money, no title, and only his handsome face to offer. Daisy, on the other hand, comes from a family with a great deal of money. "There is a substantial Mr. Miller in that mysterious land of dollars," Winterbourne says of Daisy's father in America. Giovanelli must wish he were a count or a marquis, although he himself doubts that the Millers are yet even sophisticated enough to think of trying to snare a titled European. A number of Americans greet Mrs. Costello on their way through the church, and most of them have a comment about Daisy's behavior. Winterbourne is not happy with what he hears. It upsets him to have the "pretty and undefended and natural" young woman described as "vulgar." NOTE: Along with the characters in Daisy Miller, you enjoy a sightseer's tour of Rome. St. Peter's Church, where Winterbourne and Mrs. Costello see Daisy and Giovanelli, is part of the Vatican and is the largest Christian church in the world. The action now moves to the Corso, an avenue in central Rome where the eighteenth-century mansion called the Doria Palace is located. Known for its fine painting gallery, the Palace houses the portrait of Pope Innocent X by the Spanish painter, Velasquez (1599-1660), mentioned by the friend who reports seeing Daisy and Giovanelli. One afternoon, Winterbourne meets a friend who has just come from the Doria Palace, where he saw "that pretty American girl" in a secluded nook with a "little Italian with a bouquet in his button-hole." The friend remembers Winterbourne describing Daisy as being of the best society, but what he has just seen makes him wonder. Figuring that Mrs. Miller must be alone, Winterbourne jumps into a cab and goes to see her. His mission is to give Daisy's mother a hint of the bad reputation her daughter is acquiring. Mrs. Miller explains that Daisy is, as usual, out with Mr. Giovanelli. She assures Winterbourne that Giovanelli is "a real gentleman," and says she keeps asking Daisy if she is engaged. Daisy always denies it, but Giovanelli has promised to tell Mrs. Miller any "news" if Daisy doesn't. Winterbourne doesn't believe his ears. Mrs. Miller doesn't seem to care if Daisy is accepted by society--Giovanelli's society is high enough for her. Nor does she seem to mind the idea of Daisy's marrying Giovanelli, though by everyone else's standards he is below her station in life. With such a mother, thinks Winterbourne, Daisy doesn't have a chance. Daisy is never in when Winterbourne calls, and he no longer sees her at parties, for she is no longer invited. The Americans in Rome are eager to disown Daisy as a disgrace to their country. Winterbourne wonders how she feels about being snubbed. It upsets him to think that she may not have noticed. At times he curses her childishness, her provincialism, her lack of reason and want of cultivation. At others, he thinks she must know perfectly well what image she projects. He wonders if her defiance is an aspect of her innocence, or if she is simply a reckless person. He is tired of picky arguments about her. He is annoyed at himself for not knowing for sure if her wild behavior is personal or characteristic of her nationality. And he is upset that he has missed his chance for romance with her. Winterbourne runs into Daisy one day in the Palace of the Caesars, strolling through the ruin of marble and monuments. Rome has never looked lovelier, he thinks, nor Daisy prettier. Even Giovanelli looks brilliant. When Daisy remarks on his always being alone, Winterbourne regrets that he is not as fortunate as Giovanelli. Giovanelli has always been extremely polite to Winterbourne, listening attentively to his remarks and laughing at his jokes. He has never acted like a jealous boyfriend, nor has he seemed deluded by hopes of marriage and money. Now, he leaves Daisy and Winterbourne in order to pick an almond sprig and arrange it in his button-hole. Daisy doesn't believe Winterbourne when he tells her people think she sees too much of Giovanelli. But he predicts that people will have a disagreeable way of showing that they do care. Daisy wonders how he can allow people to be so unkind to her, and Winterbourne assures her that he does speak up in her defense. Then he adds, "I say that your mother tells me that she believes you are engaged." Giovanelli starts back to where they are standing. Daisy answers quickly that she is engaged. "You don't believe it!" she says. At first, Winterbourne says nothing, then answers, "Yes, I believe it!" "Oh, no, you don't," says Daisy, to which she adds, "Well, then--I am not!" At this point you might excuse Winterbourne for being baffled by Daisy. Is she deliberately being difficult? Or is she still simply a high-spirited, sometimes thoughtless girl? NOTE: James continues to use Rome as an evocative setting for his tale. The Caelian and the Palatine hills are two of the seven hills on which Rome was founded. The Palatine is also the site of a large park where many monuments are located. The Arch of Constantine commemorates Constantine the Great's defeat of a rival for his position of emperor of Rome in A.D. 312. The Forum is what remains of the center of ancient Rome; it served as the marketplace as well as the place where public assemblies were held and judicial business conducted. The Colosseum--one of ancient Rome's most famous ruins--is a very large amphitheater, that was used for public entertainment. It was in the circus, or arena, of the Colosseum that the Christian martyrs were thrown to the lions. On his way home from a dinner party a week later, Winterbourne is lured by the prospect of the Colosseum in the moonlight. His instinct is correct. A deep shadow covers one half of the arena; dim moonlight illuminates the other half. The place has never looked more impressive, and Winterbourne is reminded of lines from Lord Byron's poem, "Manfred," which describe the ruin under similar conditions: I stood within the Coliseum's walls, Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome; The trees which grew along the broken arches Waved dark in the blue midnight.... (Act III, Scene iv) Winterbourne knows he shouldn't stay in the Colosseum for long. However poetic its atmosphere may be, the darkened ruin is also thought to be a breeding ground for the "Roman fever," as Romans call malaria. He walks quickly to the middle of the amphitheater to have one look at the entire place. As he nears the great cross in its center, he discerns two other visitors: a woman and a man. The two have seen him walking toward them, but have not recognized him. They joke about the threat he might pose. The woman's voice says that he looks at them the way a lion or a tiger might have looked at the Christian martyrs. Her companion hopes the man is not hungry. The voices are those of Daisy and Giovanelli. NOTE: Daisy's remarks here refer to the early Christians who were martyred before Christianity became an accepted religion in early Rome. These Christians were often thrown to wild animals before an eager crowd in the Colosseum. Daisy's remark is unconsciously prophetic. Like the Christian martyrs, she will be sacrificed for her beliefs by what one reader has called "the predatory public"--the Americans in Rome who attack her for not following their strict social rules. Winterbourne is filled with horror. Under no circumstances should Daisy be out at midnight in the Colosseum with a man. But his horror quickly changes to relief. This indiscretion on her part is the last straw for Winterbourne, and it is as if light is suddenly shed on the question of her behavior. The riddle that she has been to him all along is suddenly easily solved. She has revealed herself as not deserving of his respect. He can't believe he has wasted so much time puzzling over her. Since arriving in Rome, Winterbourne has tended to think of Daisy less and less in terms of his feelings for her and more and more in terms of the intellectual problems posed by her behavior. Instead of trying to develop his friendship with Daisy, he has become obsessed with trying to figure her out. Now, in this sharply etched scene, his head finally triumphs over his heart, and he feels confident in his ability to judge by appearances. Winterbourne can see Daisy and Giovanelli only dimly. It doesn't occur to him that he is quite visible to them. Afraid of what he might say, he turns away from the couple. As he does, Daisy's voice reaches him again. She exclaims that the man is Winterbourne and that he has snubbed her. Winterbourne may have dismissed Daisy as undeserving of respect, but he has his pride. He won't allow Daisy to portray him as the one whose behavior is less than exemplary, and he turns back toward the couple. Winterbourne still has concern for his former friend's health. She's a delicate young girl, and her moral corruption, he feels, is not reason enough for her to risk death by fever by remaining in the Colosseum. In a gruff voice, he asks how long she has been there. "All the evening," Daisy replies, adding that she has never seen anything so pretty. Winterbourne suggests that she will not think Roman fever is very pretty, and explains that staying out late in the damp air of the Colosseum is how people catch it. He turns on Giovanelli, who, as a native of Rome, should know better. Giovanelli claims to have advised against the outing, but he says that Daisy would not be put off. NOTE: Some readers have cited this scene as one that shows the reckless side of Daisy's character. Just as she prefers to ignore European warnings about her social conduct, she prefers to ignore warnings about dangers to her health. James may be saying that while some European beliefs are rigid and restrictive, others deserve to be followed; and that while American innocence and independence are admirable, they can be destructive when they mix with ignorance and stubbornness. Winterbourne advises Daisy to go home as fast as she can. Giovanelli rushes off to get their carriage. Now comes the climactic scene of Daisy Miller. Once again you see the gap between appearance and reality, between what Daisy believes and what Winterbourne believes. As she chatters about the beauty of the Colosseum, Daisy doesn't seem embarrassed in the least. She doesn't realize that to Winterbourne her presence there with Giovanelli is final proof that she is unworthy of his respect or love. Gradually, though, his silence tells her that something is bothering him. When she asks him why he isn't saying anything, he just laughs. Giovanelli has the carriage ready, but Daisy stops in the darkness of one of the arches and looks at Winterbourne. "Did you believe I was engaged the other day?" she asks. Winterbourne, still laughing, answers that it doesn't matter what he believed the other day. When Daisy asks what he believes now, Winterbourne says that it makes very little difference to him whether she is engaged or not. In effect, he's saying that she is beneath his notice. Daisy is shocked. She has ignored the slights of other members of society, but she can't ignore Winterbourne's. Does this indicate to you that her feelings for him are deeper than he believes? James doesn't tell you her thoughts, but you see that Winterbourne has upset her enough to make her even more reckless than usual. When Winterbourne warns her to take medicine against the fever, she answers in a strange tone of voice, "I don't care whether I have Roman fever or not!" Somehow, word of Daisy's moonlit visit to the Colosseum leaks out and shortly is common knowledge among members of the American circle. Hotel servants, a few days later, spread the rumor that "the little American flirt" is seriously ill, and Winterbourne goes to Daisy's hotel to find out more. Mrs. Miller cannot see him--she is spending all her time at Daisy's side. It is plain that Daisy is dangerously ill. While at the hotel one day to ask for news, Winterbourne sees Mrs. Miller. Daisy, delirious much of the time, gave her a message for Winterbourne. She was never engaged to Giovanelli. Three times she repeated her instruction, "Mind you tell Mr. Winterbourne," and wanted her to ask if he remembered going to the castle in Switzerland. Mrs. Miller can't imagine why Daisy would want her to send such a message. She is only happy to learn that Daisy was never engaged to Giovanelli, who has not shown his face since Daisy fell sick. The news that Daisy was never engaged matters very little. A week later she dies of the fever. Giovanelli is among the mourners at her grave. He is very pale, and there is no flower in his buttonhole. Winterbourne has the feeling that Giovanelli wants to say something to him. Finally Giovanelli says, "She was the most beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable. And she was the most innocent." Winterbourne is stunned by Giovanelli's words. He repeats those that surprise him most, "And the most innocent?" he asks. "The most innocent," Giovanelli affirms. Suddenly, Winterbourne realizes that despite all the weeks of observing Daisy and judging her character, he was entirely wrong about her. He feels angry, but he turns his anger against Giovanelli. "Why the devil did you take her to that fatal place?" he asks. Giovanelli answers simply that he wasn't afraid for himself and that, typically headstrong, Daisy wanted to go. He would have had no future with Daisy, he says; she never would have married him. For a while he had hoped she might, but he gave up that hope long ago. Winterbourne leaves Rome right after Daisy's funeral, but he thinks of her often. The following summer he returns to Vevey to visit his aunt. His injustice to Daisy has weighed on his conscience. Mrs. Costello wonders in what way his injustice affected Daisy. Winterbourne says, "She sent me a message before her death which I didn't understand at the time. But I have understood it since. She would have appreciated one's esteem." That is, by telling him that she was never engaged to Giovanelli, Daisy was trying to tell him that she was in fact the nice girl she said she was. Mrs. Costello asks if this is "a modest way of saying" that Daisy would have returned his affection for her. After a minute Winterbourne says, "You were right in that remark that you made last summer. I was booked to make a mistake. I have lived too long in foreign parts." In spite of his revelation, Winterbourne returns to live in Geneva. There are still conflicting reports about why he has chosen that city. Some say he is "studying hard," others claim he is "much interested in a very clever foreign lady." Winterbourne was mistaken in his judgment of Daisy, and he admits it. He failed her, and he knows why. He is an American transplanted into foreign soil, and left there too long. But his self-knowledge does not change him. He returns to the life he led before he met--and misjudged--Daisy Miller. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: THE PLOT The Turn of the Screw is a story within a story. To a group of people who have been trading ghost stories, a man named Douglas reads a personal account written by his sister's governess years before. His reading of this "horrible" story is prefaced by some facts about the governess's background. The daughter of a poor country parson, the young woman was twenty when she went to London to apply for her first job, in answer to an ad placed by a handsome and charming bachelor. The man had been named guardian of his orphaned niece and nephew, and needed a governess to care for them at his country estate. At first, the young woman was reluctant to take the position, but the uncle prevailed upon her and she agreed. He asked only that she never bother him with news of the children. Her own story begins, as Douglas reads it aloud, on the day she sets out nervously for the country estate called Bly. Bly turns out to be a pleasant surprise. The house is large, the setting serene, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, friendly. Flora, the little girl, is beautiful and perfectly behaved. The little boy, Miles, is still away at school. Her life would be perfect, the governess thinks, if only her dashing employer could see how well she is serving him. But right away, things start to go wrong at Bly. By letter, the governess learns that Miles has been expelled from school, but no explanation is given. Nor can Mrs. Grose shed light on the matter. In her efforts to put together a picture of the boy's troubled past, the governess uncovers only the mysterious death of the children's former governess, Miss Jessel. One evening, as she is strolling through the grounds and daydreaming about her employer, the governess believes she spies the figure of a man on the tower at one end of the house. At first she mistakes the man for her employer, but she quickly realizes her mistake. This man is no one she has ever seen. It isn't until the man's second appearance--outside the dining room window--that the governess confides in Mrs. Grose. When she describes him to the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose recognizes the man as Peter Quint, the former valet of their employer. This identification causes one problem: Peter Quint is dead! Another day, while she sews and Flora plays beside the lake, the governess senses someone watching them from across the water. When she finally faces the presence, she finds not Peter Quint, as she had expected, but the figure of a woman dressed in black. There is no doubt in the governess's mind. The figure is the ghost of Miss Jessel. The young woman turns to Mrs. Grose with her terrible theory that Peter Quint is after Miles and Miss Jessel after Flora. At this suggestion of a conspiracy between the ghosts, Mrs. Grose confides to the governess that there had--in life--been something between the pair. After the two sightings, all the governess can think about is shielding the children from the spirits of the depraved Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. The ghosts have not appeared to anyone else. But to the governess they seem to be everywhere: at the window, on the stairs, on the lawn at night. Her fears grow as she suspects that the children see the ghosts as well, and are conspiring to hide that fact from her. Everything about their behavior seems--to her--to point to this theory. In addition, she still has not resolved the mystery of Miles's expulsion from school. More and more, she feels certain that the two mysteries--that of the dismissal and that of the ghosts--are somehow intertwined. The tension increases one afternoon when Flora slips away while Miles is playing the piano for his governess. When she discovers Flora is missing, the governess announces to Mrs. Grose that the girl has gone to meet Miss Jessel, and that Miles--who has also disappeared and is probably now with Peter Quint--helped to arrange the meeting. The two women find Flora exactly where the governess suspected they would, on the far shore of the lake, where she had first spotted Miss Jessel. Unable to contain herself any longer, the governess asks the little girl directly about Miss Jessel. Flora is angered and Mrs. Grose shocked by the mention of the dead woman's name, but as the governess speaks that name she witnesses Miss Jessel rising on the shore before them. She cries out and gestures toward the ghost, but Flora and Mrs. Grose don't seem to see it. Flora's agitation deepens into hysteria, and Mrs. Grose takes her away from Bly. The governess, alone with Miles, is determined to make the boy confess to the evil that led to his dismissal from school. As she questions Miles after dinner, the face of Peter Quint appears to her at the window. As she tries to keep Miles's back to the window, the young woman feels that she's struggling with the ghost for the soul of the little boy. Miles becomes aware of the attention his governess is directing toward the window. He has learned from Flora of the incident at the lake and now asks if Miss Jessel is there with them. The governess says no, but she tells him that "the horror" is at the window. Miles guesses that "the horror" is Peter Quint. His eyes search the room wildly, but he doesn't see Quint anywhere. As the governess clutches the boy in her arms, he lets out a little groan. The face in the window disappears. And suddenly the governess realizes that Miles's heart has stopped. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: THE GOVERNESS The governess is the principal narrator of The Turn of the Screw. It is her account, written in the first person, that is read aloud. The youngest daughter of a poor country parson, she went to London at the age of twenty to look for work. Although apprehensive about accepting the position of governess at Bly, she was so infatuated with her prospective employer that she took the job. An unsophisticated young woman, she finds the large country estate of Bly is "a different affair" from the home she has just left. From these few facts, the governess may seem quite unremarkable. But at the heart of all controversy about The Turn of the Screw lies controversy about the true character of this young woman. What sort of person is she? Almost every scene of the story can be read in two ways, depending on your estimation of the governess's character. Some readers see her as a conscientious employee, attempting to serve her employer and perform her duties in the face of enormous strain. They believe she is devoted to shielding her charges from the threat of evil at any cost to herself. For these readers, The Turn of the Screw is a ghost story. The ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel do exist in the story. Other readers contend the governess is mad. They believe she is a sexually repressed young woman whose frustrated desires for her absent employer cause her to see spirits. These readers claim that her courage and heroism are nothing more than attempts to show her value to the employer who has ignored her. They say the governess is unreliable. At one point in the story, they note, she lies to the housekeeper about having a conversation with the ghost of Miss Jessel. For these readers, who do not believe in the existence of the ghosts, The Turn of the Screw is a psychological novel. You can have many questions about the governess's character. Note that James seems to encourage those questions by not giving this major character a name. Her namelessness seems to emphasize both the ambiguities and the eerieness of the story: she's like an unfinished painting, with the reader forced to paint in the blank spots. What do you think the governess's true nature is? That's the question you must decide for yourself as you read the story. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: MRS. GROSE Mrs. Grose is a longtime resident of Bly. She is now the housekeeper, but started as a personal maid to her current employer's mother. In the eyes of the governess, she is a "stout simple plain clean wholesome woman," and "a magnificent monument to the blessing of a want of imagination." As you read, see if you agree with the governess's estimation. Mrs. Grose serves as the governess's confidant (see Point of View). In her conversations with Mrs. Grose, the governess articulates her feelings, and you have an opportunity to overhear them. It is from Mrs. Grose that the governess learns the few facts that she knows about Miss Jessel and Peter Quint. And it is in these conversations that the governess develops her increasingly elaborate theories about the children's conspiracy with evil spirits. Mrs. Grose defers to the governess on most matters. After all, the governess is her superior. Mrs. Grose can't read or write, whereas the governess is an educated woman. Throughout the tale, the housekeeper's plain heartiness and realistic attitude offer a solid contrast to the young woman's more high-strung and fanciful nature. Does Mrs. Grose believe the governess's story of the ghosts? Some readers point to her moving Flora from the governess's room--and eventually taking Flora from Bly--as evidence that Mrs. Grose is actually trying to save the girl from the governess. Yet, after hearing the bad language that Flora uses when she falls ill and becomes delirious, Mrs. Grose announces that she does believe in the presence of the two evil ghosts. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: MILES Miles is ten years old. After the death of their parents he and his sister, Flora, were left in their uncle's care. They were tutored at Bly by the former governess, Miss Jessel, until her mysterious death. During that period, Miles spent a great deal of time with Peter Quint, his uncle's valet at Bly. When Miss Jessel died, Miles was sent away to school. As the story opens, he has just been expelled--possibly for using bad language (he "said things"). At first his governess can't believe that such a charming, angelic-looking boy could be guilty of any wrongdoing. But as the story proceeds, she suspects that the ghosts she sees are after Miles's soul. Eventually, she believes that Miles is in league with them. Miles's nature is as ambiguous as the natures of the other major characters in the story. Is he a child on the verge of losing his innocence to the corrupt spirit of Peter Quint? If you believe that, you'll agree with the governess that he and his sister are conspiring against her to meet with the ghosts. Or is he simply a normal ten-year-old, usually well-behaved but sometimes mischievous, who wants to return to school so he can be with boys his own age? If you believe that, you'll believe that through no fault of his own, Miles has become the object of the governess's unhealthy obsession. Even Miles's fate at the end of the story is left unclear. Is it the departing spirit of the evil Peter Quint that causes Miles's heart to stop? Or has he simply been scared to death by his own governess? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: FLORA You know even less about Flora than about Miles. She is younger than Miles and like him is exquisitely beautiful and charming. As with her brother, there is no proof that Flora communicates with the spirits of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. She does nothing more to arouse suspicion in her governess than get out of bed twice in the middle of the night. To the governess, this constitutes clear proof that Flora is conspiring with Miles and the ghosts. But when Miss Jessel's name is finally mentioned, the child is so upset that she suffers a nervous collapse. Would this be the reaction of a child who has been consorting with evil spirits? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: DOUGLAS Douglas appears only in the prologue to the tale. He is one of the houseguests trading ghost stories as The Turn of the Screw begins. It is Douglas who remembers the story of a ghost appearing to two children, and it is he who reads the governess's written account aloud. He gives you your first glimpse of the governess. "She was a most charming person... the most agreeable woman I've ever known in her position.... We had... talks in the garden--talks in which she struck me as awfully clever and nice... I liked her extremely." The testimony Douglas gives about the governess makes him an important character in the story. He's the only person who has an independent opinion about the governess; everything else you learn about her is from the manuscript she herself wrote. Douglas's respect for the governess, therefore, makes you more inclined to believe her story. On the other hand, some readers have raised the possibility that Douglas's fondness for the governess developed because as a boy he was in love with her. In their opinion, Douglas's childhood infatuation with her was perhaps as unwholesome as they believe the governess's feelings for Miles are and Douglas is just as unreliable a narrator as the governess is herself. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: THE UNCLE Miles's and Flora's uncle looms large in The Turn of the Screw, but he is not present during the events of the story. He sets the events of the tale in motion, however, by hiring the governess to take charge of his orphaned niece and nephew. The uncle is wealthy and handsome, and the governess is so anxious to please him that at times she doesn't seem to behave sensibly. In fact, to many readers it is the governess's repressed sexual desires for her employer that cause her to imagine the ghosts. To you, he may seem a somewhat sinister figure, or at least a very cold and aloof one. What do you think of an uncle who hires a governess for his niece and nephew and then orders her not to bother him with any news of them? Though you don't see the uncle, he adds greatly to the sense of mystery and secretiveness that permeates The Turn of the Screw. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: PETER QUINT You learn little about Peter Quint--only the information the governess gleans from Mrs. Grose. Quint is the master's former valet, who was inclined to take liberties with his position. He tried to dress like his master, and he became overly friendly with the master's young nephew, Miles. He apparently had an affair with the former governess, Miss Jessel. After her departure, he was found lying dead on the road, apparently from a fall he suffered while drunk. These are the facts about Quint. In the governess's telling of them, however, this red-haired servant becomes the center of all the corruption in the story. His friendship with Miles takes on sinister (possibly demonic and sexual) overtones. The governess is convinced that even after death Quint is determined to regain his influence over the boy and his sister. She is battling him for the souls of the children, she believes. Quint's final appearance (perhaps real, perhaps only in the governess's mind) results in Miles's death. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: MISS JESSEL The children's former governess, Miss Jessel, a lady by the social standards of the day, apparently had a sexual relationship with the brutal, lower-class servant, Peter Quint. Miss Jessel left Bly for a brief vacation, and about the time she was expected to return, word came that she had died. This is all you know for sure about her. But in the eyes of her replacement--the governess who narrates The Turn of the Screw--Miss Jessel is a specter who has returned from the dead and is in league with Peter Quint. Whereas Quint seems to direct most of his evil attention toward Miles, Miss Jessel seems determined to claim Flora. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SETTING After a brief prologue set in an old house on Christmas Eve, The Turn of the Screw is set in summer and early autumn at the country estate of Bly. The big, old house has a tower, open windows, fresh curtains, and bright flowers on its extensive grounds, which include a shallow lake. To the governess who is the main character in the story, Bly is beautiful enough to increase her feelings of gratitude toward her employer, yet different enough from her own home to seem strange. Sometimes it seems romantic, provoking fantasies of life in a castle, but at other times it's ugly enough to remind the governess of a big, old drifting ship with only herself at the helm. The grounds are peaceful, making the presence of evil seem unlikely--almost impossible--and yet so isolated that the presence of an unknown man seems an immediate threat. Bly has been likened to a Garden of Eden, a place of beauty and serenity spoiled by the evil that visits it. Like the exquisite, other-worldly beauty of Flora and Miles, it offers a striking contrast to that evil. Some readers have wondered if the house at Bly isn't based in part on James's own estate, Lamb House. Others have wondered if he didn't subconsciously take it from a magazine in which one of his earlier stories appeared. The Christmas 1891 issue of Black and White, an illustrated London weekly, contained a drawing called The Haunted House. The picture shows a frightened girl and boy looking at a house (with a tower) from which an eerie light is shining. The children are separated from the house by a lake ringed with dense undergrowth. In the same issue of the magazine is Sir Edmund Orme, a tale by Henry James. James would have undoubtedly looked at the magazine his story appeared in. Would the memory of one of the illustrations in the magazine contribute to the setting for The Turn of the Screw? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: THEMES The following are themes of The Turn of the Screw. 1. THE ACTUAL AND THE IMAGINARY Like Nathaniel Hawthorne, James saw in the tale of the supernatural a place where "the actual and the imaginary" could meet. There is sometimes a fine line between what is and what is not of this world, and in The Turn of the Screw, you cross that line many times. In the tale, it is often not clear what actually happens and what the governess imagines. The governess arrives at Bly knowing that her employer wants never to see or hear from her again. But before long, she imagines meeting him on her evening walks, and she fantasizes about his satisfaction with her performance. When she sees the ghosts of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, The Turn of the Screw you wonder if they are real or imagined. You may decide simply that the governess thought she saw the ghosts, and leave it at that. But then the governess embellishes her story. In a second telling of her encounter with Miss Jessel in the schoolroom, the governess claims that the ghost spoke to her, though in her first telling you heard only what she said to the ghost. At points like these, the governess seems to have wandered beyond reality. The actual and the imagined have become fused in her consciousness and are fused in the tale as a whole. In the end, is it an actual ghost or merely the governess's mad imaginings that causes Miles's death? 2. AMBIGUITY Closely related to the theme of actual versus imaginary is the theme of ambiguity. Is the governess courageous or neurotic? Are the children good or evil? Does Mrs. Grose believe in the ghosts or not? Henry James could have given you the answers. He could have explained why Miles was expelled from school and how Miss Jessel died. He could have graphically described the evil visited upon the children by the depraved Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. But are those specifics the point of the story? Isn't the point rather what the mind makes of those mysteries, how understanding or misunderstanding flourish in an environment of ambiguity? The ghost story as a form appealed to James because there such ambiguity was possible. The unanswered questions raised in The Turn of the Screw have helped to make it a popular tale for almost a century. The controversy that rages about possible answers has, at times, almost eclipsed the tale itself. 3. EVIL The suggestion of evil permeates The Turn of the Screw, whether you believe the ghosts exist in the story or are products of the governess's insanity. As the governess sees their tormented spirits returning to threaten the children, the corrupt Peter Quint and the dishonored Miss Jessel seem as evil in death as they did in life. Here the suggestion of wrongdoing is greatest--in some unspeakable and unnatural evil visited upon the children first by the living couple and then by their ghosts. Whatever it is that the four do together (the possibilities have sexual overtones), it is so terrible as to be unmentionable. Even the minor mysteries--Miss Jessel's untimely death, Miles's unexplained dismissal from school--seem to be rooted in evil. Images that are traditionally associated with good only serve to bring evil into sharper focus. The daughter of a country parson is visited by ghosts. The peaceful estate of Bly is an Eden from which Quint and Miss Jessel have been expelled. The children's angelic beauty offers a marked contrast to their hideous natures that would conspire with spirits. Their model behavior seems a sign of their corruption and their silence a constant reminder of their secret. The theme of The Turn of the Screw is not merely the evil that infiltrates Bly, but the evil latent in each of us as well. It's for that reason that James didn't spell out in detail the nature of Peter Quint's crimes. Henry James wrote, "Only make the reader's general vision of evil intense enough... and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy... and horror... will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars. Make him think the evil, make him think it for himself...." 4. SEXUAL REPRESSION Readers of The Turn of the Screw who don't believe in its ghosts are quick to identify sexual repression as one of its themes. According to these readers, the young woman's frustrated sexual attraction to her employer causes her to conjure up ghosts and suggest an unspeakable evil visited upon the children. Her imaginings about what goes on with the ghosts and the children, therefore, are actually related to her frustrated feelings for the handsome uncle. The belief that strong feelings that have been repressed in the subconscious may emerge in relation to other circumstances is derived mainly from the work of the Viennese psychologist, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Readers who take this interpretation of The Turn of the Screw argue that James, whose brother William was a famous psychologist and who himself was interested in the discipline, was undoubtedly aware of Freud's work. Some readers have even argued (unconvincingly, others feel) that James might have derived his story of a disturbed governess from a case history of one of Freud's patients. Readers who believe the story is primarily about sexual repression in a troubled mind find sexual symbolism in the governess's sighting of Quint on a tower (a symbol of male sexuality) and Miss Jessel on a lake (a symbol of female sexuality), as well as in Flora's toy boat and mast (a flat piece of wood with a hole in it, and another piece that is inserted into the hole). They claim that as the story progresses, the governess turns her sexual attentions on Miles, and they cite as evidence statements with sexual overtones, such as her description of herself and Miles being like embarrassed newlyweds in front of the maid. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: STYLE The Turn of the Screw was written in the late 1890s, and belongs to what is called the late period in the work of Henry James. His concern in this period was no longer chiefly with manners, as it was when he wrote Daisy Miller twenty years earlier, but with human consciousness. The stories are no longer as concerned with how characters behave, as with how characters think and feel. By the time he wrote The Turn of the Screw, James had begun dictating to a secretary--rather than writing--his stories. Some readers believe that dictation caused his sentences to become longer and more convoluted, capturing the rhythms of the thought process. Here is an example from Section XIII of The Turn of the Screw. After these secret scenes I chattered more than ever, going on volubly enough till one of our prodigious palpable hushes occurred--I can call them nothing else--the strange dizzy lift or swim (I try for terms!) into a stillness, a pause of all life, that had nothing to do with the more or less noise we at the moment might be engaged in making and that I could hear through any intensified mirth or quickened recitation or louder strum of the piano. This sentence reads like the transcript of a person's speech, which--more accurately than prose--reflects thoughts as they occur in a person's mind. Whether or not dictation influenced James's style, he was developing a "stream of consciousness" technique. James was a master stylist. The language of his descriptions was always precise. James's fiction of all periods drew on his enormous vocabulary, which included many archaic words and expressions borrowed from languages other than English. In The Turn of the Screw, one character "blenches," or recoils in fear. "Raison de plus," says another, using a French expression meaning "All the more reason." When James revised The Turn of the Screw in 1908 for the publication of his collected novels and tales called the New York Edition, he made changes that placed greater emphasis on the psychological aspects of his tale. The changes may seem minor--he removed many commas and changed some verbs of perception to verbs of feeling. The effect, however, was great. With fewer commas, the governess's thoughts run together more. They seem less organized, less carefully measured. And having the governess say "I felt" instead of "I saw" emphasizes not what happened, but the governess's feelings about what happened. The prose style puts the story more within the mind of the governess, thereby creating more of the ambiguities for which The Turn of the Screw is so famous. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: POINT OF VIEW The Turn of the Screw is unusual in that it has two narrators. One exists only in the prologue. That first narrator, who is nameless, describes the scene in an old house where a number of houseguests are telling ghost stories. He then introduces a guest, Douglas, who tells the others about the governess. The rest of the tale is Douglas's reading of the governess's story. The governess is considered the principal narrator, and the story is told from her point of view. She is also what some readers call the central intelligence--the character through whose eyes you see the story. James gives you her thoughts and perceptions directly, and presents them through her conversations with Mrs. Grose. Mrs. Grose is what James's readers call the confidant--the character who serves as a sounding board for the ideas of the central intelligence. (See also Point of View in the discussion of Daisy Miller.) Telling The Turn of the Screw from the point of view of its main participant has an enormous effect. In fact, it's the main reason for the sense of mystery surrounding the story. In a sense, readers are at the governess's mercy. They know only what she tells them. Why do some readers refuse to believe the governess's story? Probably because, to them, the governess is a perfect example of an unreliable narrator. They believe that the governess is the victim of an obsession so strong that it drives her to the edge of madness, and in this agitated condition she hallucinates the threatening ghosts. These readers point out that she is the only one who sees the ghosts, and that many of the events she finds sinister can be explained in other ways. These readers find The Turn of the Screw one of the most subtle and most ambiguous examples of first-person narrative in all literature. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: FORM AND STRUCTURE The Turn of the Screw is counted among the tales of Henry James, despite its length of some 53,000 words. (That's the length of a short novel; most of James's other tales run only about 10,000 to 20,000 words.) It was first published in twelve installments in Collier's Weekly in 1898. Publishing a long work of fiction in installments was common among magazines at the turn of the century. "Serialization," as this practice was called, was so popular that it was not unusual for James to see the first part of one of his stories published in a magazine before he had even decided how that story would end. The Turn of the Screw's birth as a long magazine serial undoubtedly influenced its structure. It comprises a prologue and twenty-four parts; these short sections gave James many opportunities to leave his readers hanging in suspense and so encourage them to buy the next issue of the magazine. The Turn of the Screw can also be described more simply as a ghost story--one of the classic ghost stories in literature. The ghost story was a form James used often; it was for him what the romance (a tale of the extra-ordinary) was for the earlier American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne: a middle ground for the meeting of what Hawthorne called "the actual and the imaginary." The British novelist Virginia Woolf suggested that James "uses the supernatural effectively.... where some quality in a character or in a situation can only be given its fullest meaning by being cut free from facts." As you read, try to decide if that's an apt description for the events of The Turn of the Screw. James himself said once that "a good ghost-story, to be half as terrible as a good murder-story, must be connected at a hundred points with the common objects of life." Again, as you read The Turn of the Screw, you'll want to decide if it is indeed "terrible"--that is, terrifying--and if that terror results from its connections to everyday life. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: PROLOGUE On Christmas Eve in an old house a group of guests is trading ghost stories. A guest named Douglas recalls a story in which ghosts appear to two children--a story unsurpassed, he says, for ugliness, horror, and pain. The others press him to continue, but Douglas explains that he doesn't know the story by heart. It is a personal account written by his family's governess and given to him before her death twenty years ago. At the insistence of the other guests, Douglas sends to London for the manuscript. As the group awaits its arrival, Douglas furnishes background material for the tale. In making the houseguests wait to hear the story, James introduces the element of suspense early in his tale. NOTE: James refers to several locations in England that may be unfamiliar to you. Harley Street, where the young bachelor lives, is a residential area in London that was fashionable at the time this story was written. It was often called Physician's Row, because many doctors had offices there. The governess is from Hampshire, a county southwest of London in southern England. Essex, where the bachelor's country estate is located, is a county northeast of London, also in southern England. The young woman was twenty when she left the house of her father, a poor country vicar (parson), and went to London to look for work. She answered an ad for a governess, placed by a handsome, charming, young bachelor who had suddenly found himself the guardian of his niece and nephew. Unwilling to keep the children with him, the bachelor had sent them to live at his country estate, called Bly, to be cared for by a household staff and a governess. This governess had recently passed away, and it was this position he hoped the young woman would fill. She would be in complete charge, he promised. He would ask nothing but that she handle everything herself. She was never, under any circumstances, to bother him about the children. Do you find this an unusual request? Why wouldn't the governess question her prospective employer's demand? The young woman had many reservations about a life that promised little but responsibility. But the uncle's charm won out and the young woman accepted the position. When he held her hand in gratitude, she felt rewarded. But she never saw him again. Some of the listeners question Douglas about his relationship with the woman and wonder if there was something between them. Douglas explains that his sister's governess was ten years older than he, and that he simply spent time with her while home from college for the summer. Still, the question of Douglas's judgment has been raised. Is he an unbiased judge of the governess' character? She must have liked him, because she told her story to him alone. NOTE: As the guests retire for the evening, James uses two unusual words to describe their actions: "...we handshook and 'candlestuck,' as somebody said, and went to bed." Handshook means to shake hands. Candlestuck means to set a candle on a candlestick. In the days before electricity, it was necessary to carry candles in order to see in the hallways of a darkened house. The manuscript arrives. The next night, Douglas begins to read aloud. The tale from now on is Douglas's reading of the manuscript the governess wrote years ago. It is told in the first person from her point of view. Douglas and the other houseguests no longer figure in the tale. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION I The first few days bring a series of emotional ups and downs for the young woman. Has she made a mistake in accepting the position? The nagging doubts travel with her on the bumpy road toward Bly. She had imagined the estate to be a dreary place, but beyond an expanse of lawn, trees, and flowers is a large house with open windows and fresh curtains, with two maids peering out. Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper, is a "stout simple plain clean wholesome" woman who treats her as a distinguished visitor and seems very happy for the company. Flora--the younger of the two pupils--is the most beautiful child the governess has ever seen. During her first night at Bly, the governess gets up several times to look around her new room and to listen to the unfamiliar sounds of the house. At one point, she thinks she hears a child crying in the distance. At another, she has the feeling that someone has just passed her bedroom door. Is insomnia beginning to influence her perceptions? This is the only night that she will spend alone. In undertaking the "whole care" of little Flora, the governess has arranged for the girl's bed to be set up near hers. Her admiration for the little girl does not escape the notice of Mrs. Grose. The little boy, Mrs. Grose promises, is also very remarkable. If the governess likes Flora, then she will be "carried away" by her brother, Miles, who will return from school in a few days. The governess admits to being easily carried away, and confides she was carried away in London. Mrs. Grose guesses that it was their attractive employer who caught her fancy. Keep the young woman's attraction for her employer in mind, for it provides important motivation for her actions throughout the story. In just a few days, her life has changed considerably, and the change is overwhelming. Her new responsibilities both scare her and make her feel proud. Her first duty, she reasons, is to get to know Flora and to win her over. As they tour the house together, Flora is courageous and confident on staircases and towers that make the governess dizzy. The little girl seems like a "rosy sprite" inhabiting a romantic castle, and her governess is enchanted. But as Flora shows her governess the house "secret by secret," does she perhaps mention something about the valet or the governess who were at Bly before this new governess? Readers who feel that the ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel do not exist believe that Flora may have provided details that may have helped in their fabrication. Is Bly a storybook over which the governess has fallen asleep and is dreaming? No, she thinks, it is only a big, ugly old house, and its inhabitants are almost as lost as passengers on a drifting ship. It occurs to the young woman that she is, strangely, at the helm--that she has been given the great responsibility of steering the ship safely. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION II Mail from the governess's employer the next day contains an unopened letter from the headmaster of Miles's school and the instructions: "Read him please, deal with him; but mind you don't report. Not a word. I'm off!" Before going to bed, the governess opens the letter to find the shocking news that Miles has been expelled from school. Wishing she had not opened the letter until she could share it with Mrs. Grose, the governess spends yet another sleepless night. This is a traumatic episode for the governess. Already exhausted from several sleepless nights, she receives one letter from her employer reiterating his wish never to hear from her, and another complicating her job considerably. Her hopes of romance with the handsome bachelor are dashed. At the same time, the character of the young boy she has never met is now shrouded in mystery. Conversations with Mrs. Grose shed little light on the matter. The housekeeper is evasive in answering questions about Miles, and her evasiveness introduces an element of ambiguity into the tale. She admits that Miles has been naughty at times, but never bad. And she mocks the idea that Miles might be a corrupting influence on the governess, or on anyone. Even though the governess laughs with Mrs. Grose at the idea that Miles could be a corrupting force, notice that she has introduced the subject of corruption, of the evil influence one person can exercise over another. Is this a foreshadowing of actual events to come, or is it more an indication of the governess's unhealthy obsession with evil? Mrs. Grose describes the former governess, Miss Jessel, as young and pretty, and the young woman remarks, "He seems to like us young and pretty!" Mrs. Grose answers, "Oh he did, it was the way he liked every one!" adding quickly in explanation, "I mean that's his way--the master's." The change of tense and immediate attempt at clarification do not escape the young woman's notice. She has the distinct impression that Mrs. Grose referred to someone other than their employer in her first remark, and tried to cover this up in her second. But when Mrs. Grose wonders innocently who else she could mean, the answer is "so obviously no one else" that the governess forgets her suspicion that Mrs. Grose has said more than she meant to. Still, you're probably wondering if Mrs. Grose is trying to hide something or if the governess is so high-strung and suspicious that she searches for evil where none exists. Mrs. Grose explains that around the time Miss Jessel was expected to return to Bly after a short vacation, word came that she was dead. Claiming not to know the cause of Miss Jessel's death, the housekeeper asks to be excused so she can return to her work. Here again her seemingly evasive attitude makes you wonder. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION III When the governess meets Miles, she is more bewildered than ever about his dismissal from school. The boy is "incredibly beautiful" and seems as pure and innocent as his little sister. The governess decides not to answer the headmaster's letter, and to say nothing to the school, to her employer, or even to the boy himself. Do you find that a reasonable reaction? Or is it the reaction of a woman overly anxious to prove her authority to herself and others? In her ignorance and confusion, she thinks she can deal with Miles's entire education when--in many ways--this unsophisticated young woman has as much to learn as the children. In her speculations about what the future might hold for the children, James foreshadows the trouble to come. NOTE: Both children are described in language that stresses their unearthly beauty. Earlier, Flora was compared in her serenity to "one of Raphael's holy infants." Raphael (1483-1520) was an Italian Renaissance painter of religious works. Flora has also been described as "beatific," an adjective that is closely related to the religious term beatify, which means "to declare blessed." (Beatification is the first step to sainthood.) Here Miles, too, is characterized as possessing a "divine" quality. Does James mean to establish the children as genuine innocents and use their beauty simply as a contrast to the horror that will soon surround them? Or is he aiming at something larger--the duality of the children's natures? Physical beauty is often contrasted with inner corruption in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a writer James admired. During her first few weeks at Bly, the governess often finds herself with a free hour in the evening and spends that hour walking on the grounds in the lingering light. Her enjoyment of the estate could not be greater if she owned Bly herself. Her walks afford her a chance to think about her new position and about how--by doing her job so well--she is pleasing her employer. She sometimes fantasizes that she will suddenly meet him, smiling at her in approval, at a turn in the path. While walking one evening with his handsome face in mind, she is startled by the figure of a man on the tower Flora had shown her on her first day at Bly. At first glance she thinks the man is her employer. A second later, she realizes he is not. The sounds of evening are stilled as she confronts the stranger. Neither says a word. During an experience like this, it is impossible to tell how much time is passing. The encounter lasts long enough for the young woman to consider a dozen possible identities for the figure and to wonder if there could be someone she doesn't know living at Bly. It lasts long enough, too, for the figure to study her in the same way she studies him. Without taking his eyes off her, the man changes his position on the platform, turns, and is gone. Because this is the first time the governess sees one of the figures who represent the evil at the heart of The Turn of the Screw, you'll want to pay particular attention to this scene. As you read and reread it, try to decide whether you can trust what the governess is telling you. Is it significant that the governess first sees the apparition while fantasizing about her employer and wishing she could see him? Could the young woman's infatuation with her employer evoke an apparition of a man who looks a great deal like him? Is the figure real, or the product of the governess's imaginings? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION IV As the governess ponders what she saw, she wonders if there is "a 'secret' at Bly--a mystery of Udolpho or an insane, unmentionable relative kept in unsuspected confinement." NOTE: In this sentence, James refers to two books whose central situations are not unlike the one now confronting the governess. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe is a ghost story published in 1794 in which the heroine is abducted and confined in an isolated castle in the Apennine mountains of Italy. The remark about a relative kept in confinement refers to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a novel published in 1847 in which a governess is the heroine, and her employer's insane wife is secretly confined in another wing of the house. In her agitation, the governess circles the house again and again until she has walked several miles. When she enters the house and encounters Mrs. Grose, her instinct is to spare the housekeeper. Using her wet feet as an excuse, she goes to her room. There is simply no accounting for the man she has seen. After questioning the household staff, she feels confident that the apparition was not a practical joke played by them. This leaves only one other possibility: an intruder--possibly a harmless lover of old houses--has been among them at Bly. Letters from her family bring only troubling news of problems at home, and offer little relief from the anxiety she feels. The best distraction is her work with Miles and Flora, who are a source of constant joy and discovery. But there is one area in which she makes no discovery whatsoever; the matter of Miles's dismissal from school. He never mentions the place nor any of his teachers or friends, and he seems too innocent to have committed any wrong. NOTE: This passage contains a few expressions that are probably unfamiliar to you. In qualifying Miles's gentleness, the governess uses the word "muff," British slang for "sissy." In her remark about cherubs who had "nothing to whack," she compares the children to angels who are too physically insubstantial to be spanked. It's a flattering comparison--or is it? Do you think it makes the children sound too good to be real? While dressing for church one afternoon, the governess retrieves a pair of gloves from the dining room. In the waning afternoon light, she is just able to see the gloves on a chair. As she bends to pick them up, she is confronted by an unexpected sight--the face of a man in the dining room window. It is the same man she saw on the tower. His stare is as deep and hard as at their first meeting, but this time it wanders and fixes on other things around the room. The governess is gripped by horror. She senses that the man has come not for her, but for someone else. She reacts with a selflessness often cited as reason enough to trust and accept her version of the story. Compelled by courage and a sense of duty, she runs out the door and around to where she saw the intruder. The man has vanished. As the governess stands where he stood, she sees the entire scene as he had. Coincidentally, Mrs. Grose enters the dining room at that moment. When she spots the face in the window, her reaction is the same as the younger woman's had been. The governess wonders why Mrs. Grose looks so frightened. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION V The governess now needs the housekeeper's support. She reports to Mrs. Grose her sighting of an "extraordinary man" at the old tower and again at the dining room window. He is no one from the house or the village. He is a horror, she says. As she describes his long pale face, sharp eyes, thin lips, red, close-curling hair, arched eyebrows, and little red whiskers, Mrs. Grose's eyes widen in recognition. The man is Peter Quint, their employer's personal servant who lived at Bly when their employer did. When their employer returned to London, Quint remained, in charge of the estate. Then, "He went too," explains Mrs. Grose. When the governess wonders aloud where Mr. Quint went, Mrs. Grose answers, "God knows where! He died." The governess almost shrieks in terror. "Yes," Mrs. Grose reports, "Mr. Quint's dead." NOTE: This section is often referred to as the "identification scene," for it is here that the man's identity is established as Peter Quint. It is almost always to this scene that readers turn when trying to determine whether or not the ghosts really exist in the story. Those who say the governess really sees ghosts point out that Mrs. Grose recognizes the figure as Peter Quint and ask how the governess could furnish such a recognizable description of Quint if she were just imagining the man. Those who think the governess imagined the ghosts note her possible sources of information about Quint. Did Flora mention the valet as she showed the house to her governess "secret by secret"? Mrs. Grose certainly hinted at the existence of another man at Bly when talking about Miss Jessel. And after the sighting at the tower, the governess questioned the household staff and the villagers. She may have learned about Quint in those conversations. What do you think? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION VI Mrs. Grose has not seen "the shadow of a shadow," but she accepts the young woman's story as the truth. The two vow to bear the burden of the knowledge together. Readers who believe the ghosts to be products of the governess's troubled imagination point out that she seems to be leaping to conclusions here. She immediately assumes that the figure she saw is evil, and that it is after the children. Is her intuition correct, or is it more an indication of her overactive and unhealthy imagination? When she vows that if necessary she will shield the children by becoming a victim herself, is she showing true bravery? Or is she trying to make herself into a heroine, unconsciously hoping that she can make her absent employer fall in love with her? How strange, the governess thinks, that the children haven't mentioned Quint! Flora may be too young to remember him, but Miles would. Mrs. Grose pleads with the governess not to mention Quint to Miles. The two spent a great deal of time together at Quint's insistence, and "Quint was much too free," she adds. "Too free with everyone!" What does this mean? James never spells it out, leaving you to imagine the worst. But some kind of sexual misconduct seems hinted. Mrs. Grose never informed their employer that Quint was "definitely and admittedly bad." After all, he had instructed his employees not to bother him. And she was afraid of what Quint might do. The children were in his charge, not hers. Besides, Quint's stay at Bly ended soon enough. He was found dead one morning on the road from the village. It seems he had taken the wrong path on his way home from the tavern, and he had slipped on an icy hill and hit his head. The governess is haunted by the sense that Mrs. Grose is keeping something back. Is she right, or is this just more evidence of her high-strung and suspicious nature? In any event, she takes a certain amount of joy in the heroism the circumstances demand of her. The children have only her to protect them. She imagines how impressed her employer will be that she has succeeded where another young woman might fail. One afternoon, while Miles is reading, the governess takes Flora onto the grounds. Flora, quite happy to amuse herself, plays at the edge of the pond while her governess sews. NOTE: The children's imaginations are fueled by recent lessons in the schoolroom. In Flora's game on the grounds this afternoon, the pond represents the Sea of Azof (Azov), an arm of the Black Sea about which she is learning in geography. Suddenly, the governess senses someone watching them, and from the corner of her eye can make out a figure across the pond. It could be one of the caretakers or the mailman, but the governess feels that she knows the identity of the spectator without ever looking up to see who it is. Who do you think it is? And do you trust the governess's positive identification? The governess turns her eyes to Flora, and her heart stands still as she wonders if she, too, will see the figure. The child shows no sign of fear or interest. In fact, she almost seems to be purposely turning her back to the figure as she intently makes a boat and mast out of two pieces of wood. NOTE: The Freudian reading of this story emphasizes the sexual imagery in this section. Peter Quint, the male ghost, appeared first on a tower--a phallic symbol. Miss Jessel now appears over a feminine symbol--a body of water. And what could be more sexual than Flora's toys: a flat piece of wood with a hole in it, and another that she sticks into the hole? Those who believe in a Freudian interpretation of the story feel that James uses sexual imagery to show that the specters the governess sees are not real but come instead from her repressed sexuality. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION VII The governess confides to Mrs. Grose her suspicion that Flora saw the figure across the pond, then tried to conceal that fact from her. Mrs. Grose wonders how she can know since Flora hasn't said a word about it. Notice that--except for the word of the governess--there is no evidence that Flora has seen the ghost. Do you believe the governess? Do you think Mrs. Grose believes her? The governess tell you that the housekeeper is horrified to learn that the apparition was a woman--a pale, beautiful woman dressed in black. The governess feels sure that Flora knows the woman, and that Mrs. Grose must, too. She is certain that the woman is Miss Jessel, the governess at Bly before her. You'll want to take a close look at this second identification scene. It is considerably different from the first. There, the governess's description of the man was quite detailed, and it was Mrs. Grose who first linked the ghostly figure with Peter Quint. This time, the description is vague. Pallor and a black dress are hardly traits peculiar to any one person. Nor does Mrs. Grose recognize Miss Jessel from the young woman's description. It is the governess who names the figure. It is she, not Mrs. Grose, who claims it is Miss Jessel returned from the dead. Mrs. Grose wonders how the governess--who never knew Miss Jessel--can be sure. And why was Flora not upset by seeing the woman? Could this be proof of her innocence? The governess concurs that it must be, for the woman, shabbily dressed in mourning clothes, is a horror who stared at Flora with fury and determination--as if she wanted to get hold of the little girl. Though beautiful, the figure looked infamous (like a person of bad reputation). Mrs. Grose confirms this, saying, "They were both infamous." When Mrs. Grose seems reluctant to tell the story, the governess guesses that there was something between Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. She is overwhelmed by a sense of defeat in her effort to protect the children. What she imagines is too terrible. As she bursts into tears, she says, "It's far worse than I dreamed. They're lost." What could have prompted Miss Jessel to leave Bly if not simply the vacation she had coming? What could have caused the death of so young a woman? Why would her ghost appear to the governess in mourning clothes? James never furnishes the answer, but leaves the question to be answered by each individual reader. What does the withholding of such information do to the story? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION VIII The governess's suspicions now take a new turn. It seems impossible to her that Flora didn't notice the figure of Miss Jessel. Indeed, it almost seems to her that Flora and the figure were in league with each other, with Flora so intently making her little toy boat that the governess was distracted from Miss Jessel. How long have the ghost and the child been communicating, the governess wonders. Are you wondering whether the governess's suspicions are well-founded, or whether they're a sign of her growing hysteria? Still, the children continue to soothe her anxiety. When the governess is with Miles and Flora, everything ceases to exist but their beauty and their helplessness. Miles has been a model child since he returned from school, and his governess asks if he was ever bad. Mrs. Grose can report nothing worse than his spending time with Quint. At the time, she mentioned the impropriety of their close relationship to Miss Jessel, but Miss Jessel told her to mind her own business. Then, when she mentioned it to Miles himself, he denied being with Quint on several occasions when she knew they had been together. He also denied that Quint was involved with Miss Jessel. The two women wonder to what degree the couple made Miles their accomplice in their evil relationship. When Miles was with Quint, they speculate, Flora was with Miss Jessel. NOTE: In this scene, Mrs. Grose seems to confirm the governess's suspicions by admitting that something was not right in the relationship between Miles and Quint and Flora and Miss Jessel. As you read the dialogue between the two women, however, notice that like so much in The Turn of the Screw, it can be read in more than one way. While Mrs. Grose still seems to believe in the innocence of the children, the governess sees everything in the worst possible light. Mrs. Grose says that Miles "prevaricated." The governess uses a much stronger word--she calls the boy a liar. Mrs. Grose may admit that something was wrong in the relationship between the boy and the servant. But the governess calls Quint not just a servant but a "base menial" and believes that the relationship was not merely wrong, but unspeakably awful. Mrs. Grose reminds the governess that Miles is usually an angelic little boy. But the governess says that Miles was a "fiend" at school. (Though as far as you know, she still doesn't have any information on the reasons for his being expelled.) Is the governess heroically trying to persuade Mrs. Grose of the danger that surrounds them, or is she trying to spread her own hysterical fantasies? Readers who believe the latter say that James gives clues that the governess is not a good judge of the situation by having her speak of her own "dreadful boldness of mind," and by having her say that Mrs. Grose's suggestion that Miss Jessel corrupted Flora "Suited me too, I felt, only too well. James deliberately leaves it to your imagination to guess what went on between the depraved couple and the children. He could say quite plainly what it was. But what would that do to the story? Instead, he suggests an unspeakable horror. By not supplying you with the information, he forces you to imagine the horrible scene for yourself. The images you conjure up are probably more terrible than any he could have supplied. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION IX The governess tries not to betray her anxiety to the children, who go out of their way to please her. They read to her, tell her stories, act out scenes, and recite passages from memory. They seem so clever and charming that she completely forgets about arranging for Miles to attend a real school. They're also remarkably close, and they seem to work together. Sometimes, for example, when their governess herself becomes tiresome, one keeps her occupied so the other can slip away for a little while. NOTE: Here is an example of foreshadowing. In describing the seemingly innocent spirit of cooperation between Miles and Flora, James prepares you for a less innocent scene in which Miles plays the piano for his governess while Flora slips away alone, purportedly to meet Miss Jessel. While reading one night, the young woman has the impression that someone or something is moving through the house. She puts down her book and leaves her room. By the first light of morning, she sees a figure on the staircase landing, staring as he did from the tower and from the garden. The young woman faces him with equal intensity, and for an extraordinary moment she feels no fear. She is confident that if she can just stand her ground, he will disappear. For that moment, the figure seems human. The only unnatural element is the dead silence of the long gaze that passes between the two. They stand frozen in this position for so long that the governess begins to wonder if she is still alive. As the figure turns on the stairs and disappears, the governess thinks that a hunchback could not look more deformed. NOTE: The book the governess was reading before she was startled in this scene is Amelia by Henry Fielding (1707-1754), a novel published in 1751. The good and patient heroine of this novel has been suggested as an inspiration for the governess. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION X The governess returns to her room and finds Flora's bed empty. The terror she was able to resist in the ghost's presence now courses through her until Flora pops out from behind the window shade, asking where her governess has been. What has happened? The governess is convinced that Flora was trying to deceive her and that she too, saw the ghostly figure. But Flora claims she saw no one, and her calm, pleasant tone makes the governess's fears sound foolish. The girl behaves as if she has nothing to hide. Do you think she does? NOTE: When the governess says that her questions disturb Flora no more than "Mrs. Marcet or nine-times-nine," she refers to questions she might pose to Flora about her schoolwork. Mrs. Marcet was Jane Marcet (1769-1858), a popular author of elementary school texts. "Nine-times-nine" refers to the multiplication tables Flora was expected to memorize. Now the governess begins a nightly vigil, staying up in hopes she will again encounter Peter Quint. Indeed one night she spies a woman on the stairs with her head in her hands. The woman vanishes without ever looking up, but the governess is certain it was Miss Jessel. Another night, exhausted after two weeks of little sleep, the governess dozes off at a normal hour, but soon awakens. By the light of a match, she makes out Flora's figure behind the window shade. The child notices neither the light nor the sound of her governess dressing and leaving the room. The governess suspects that Flora is face-to-face with the ghost of Miss Jessel. In a tower room with a view of the garden, the governess presses her face to the window. In the moonlight, she sees a figure on the lawn. But it is not the person she expected to see. The figure is Miles himself! Does the governess see a woman on the stairs, or is it the hallucination of an exhausted mind? Is there any reason to believe that Flora is communicating with ghosts from her window and that Miles is communicating with them on the lawn? Or is this paranoia born of insomnia? You must decide this question for yourself. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XI The next day the governess goes to Mrs. Grose with her story. The housekeeper, she thinks, is a "magnificent monument to the blessing of a want of imagination." Mrs. Grose is full of common sense if not formal education (she can neither read nor write). For that reason, the governess is especially pleased that this stolid woman believes her story, even if Mrs. Grose has trouble imagining that the lovely, innocent-looking children could be in danger. Mrs. Grose listens patiently as the governess relates her story of the previous night: Miles was silent as his governess led him inside, and she wondered if he were trying to formulate a plausible story. She felt a thrill of triumph at his embarrassment. But could she pretend to be ignorant any longer? Miles really "had" her. She had no choice but to ask him what he was doing outside. The boy answered simply that he wanted her to think him bad for a change. It was arranged ahead of time, he claimed. Flora was to get up and serve as his lookout. The governess fell into their trap. Once again, you're faced with a choice. Was this as Miles claims, the childish prank of two usually well-behaved children? Or is it, as the governess believes, damning evidence that the children's very souls are in danger? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XII The governess is now sure that Miss Jessel, Flora, Peter Quint, and Miles meet regularly. It's a conspiracy. The children pretend to be reading when, in fact, they are talking of Quint and Miss Jessel. It's all a fraud--their "unearthly beauty, their absolutely unnatural goodness." The children are not "good," they are simply "absent." They are possessed by Quint and Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose can't imagine what the infamous pair would want with the children. The dead return, the governess says, for the love of the evil they put into the children. Still, Mrs. Grose can't understand what the ghosts can do now. The ghosts can destroy the children, cries the young woman, and the children will perish unless the two of them can prevent it. NOTE: Mrs. Grose serves as the kind of character often called the confidant in discussions of James's fiction--a character who serves as a sounding board for the ideas expressed by the central intelligence. You see her in that role here. Because Mrs. Grose has trouble following the younger woman's hints, the governess must spell out her theory. This gives you a chance to hear the governess's thoughts as well. Mrs. Grose believes the uncle must be notified. The governess questions the wisdom of bothering a man who has asked only that he not be disturbed. Should she write and say his little niece and nephew are mad? What if she is the one who's mad? Her mind reels at the thought of asking the handsome bachelor to visit. She imagines his contempt for her failure, his scorn for her attempt to attract his attention to her "slighted charms." She makes her feelings very plain: Should Mrs. Grose appeal to their employer on her behalf, she will leave Bly at once. NOTE: Readers who doubt the existence of the ghosts in the story often cite this passage in support of their argument. The governess's description of her own expression ("a queerer face than ever yet"), her fears of her employer's reaction, and her mention of her "slighted charms," are, these readers argue, evidence that the governess is suffering from delusions, perhaps caused by her repressed sexual desires for her employer. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XIII The governess is unable to confront the children with what she knows, but she is sure that they are aware of her predicament. What remains unspoken and unnamed among them creates a kind of maze. Every conversation is a passageway that brings them face-to-face with what they are trying to avoid. Miles and Flora are always eager to hear about her life before Bly. Her past is the only subject with which the governess feels at ease, but talking about it makes the children's own silence more pronounced by comparison. NOTE: Among the stories the governess repeats is "Goody Gosling's celebrated mot." Mot is French for word; in this context it can also mean remark. No one knows for sure what Goody Gosling's celebrated remark refers to. It may be a Mother Goose rhyme that Henry James recalled from his childhood. Summer ends, and in the scattering of dead leaves Bly looks like "a theatre after the performance--all strewn with crumpled playbills." The governess expects to meet Quint around many corners, and often the time seems right for the appearance of Miss Jessel. But since sighting a woman on the stairs, the governess has seen nothing. There are times, even when she is with them, when she is sure the children have visitors. But she never sees the "outsiders." In describing her feelings, the governess asks, "How can I retrace to-day the strange steps of my obsession?" Does hearing her refer to herself as "obsessed" tip the scales in favor of the interpretation that she is mad? Or is it a natural-enough response to the fear inspired by Quint and Miss Jessel? Relief comes soon, the kind of relief "that a snap brings to a strain, or the burst of a thunderstorm to a day of suffocation." ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XIV One Sunday morning, Miles and the governess are walking to church. By this time, she's so filled with tension and fear that she feels it necessary to keep the boy at her side at all times. Then Miles asks a question: when will he be returning to school? The governess stops short. In her mind, the matter of a new school for him is connected with his mysterious dismissal from the old school. And his dismissal, in turn, is somehow connected with the evil visited on him by Peter Quint. All at once, doubts that the governess had been trying to suppress come out in the open. Miles says it isn't proper for a boy always to be with a lady, and he reminds her of how good he has been--except for that one night when he left the house. The governess tries to make him say more--something about Miss Jessel or about why he was out in the moonlight. Neither of them mentions a word about the ghosts, but the governess is convinced that "the whole thing" is "virtually out" between them anyway. NOTE: Once again, you have a conversation that can be interpreted in two entirely different ways. If you believe in the story's ghosts, you'll probably agree with the governess that the "whole thing" of the ghosts is "virtually out" between them, and that Miles seems to be testing her. If you believe that the ghosts exist only in the governess's mind, it is she who seems to be reading something sinister into even the most innocent remarks. When Miles cries, "I want my own sort!" is he simply expressing a boy's natural desire to be with boys his own age? Or is he expressing a desire to be with other children--like his sister Flora, the governess suggests--who conspire with ghosts? Miles wonders if his uncle knows the way he is "going on." (Notice the ambiguity of this phrase. Does it refer to his desire to return to school, or to his meetings with the devilish Quint?) When the governess says that his uncle probably doesn't much care, Miles wonders if he can somehow make his uncle visit Bly. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XV The young woman sits in the churchyard, reading into what Miles has said. She is embarrassed to go in to church late. Besides, it would be a sign to Miles that he had gotten something out of her. He now knows how afraid she is of dealing with his dismissal from school, and she worries that he may use this fear against her. She should clear up this mess about his schooling. She should welcome having the uncle come to Bly and handle the matter, but she cannot face "the ugliness and pain of it." All she wants is to get away, and here is her chance--now, while the entire staff of Bly is at church. Retracing her steps, she meets no one. Back in the house, she sinks down on the foot of the stairs to decide the matter of transportation, but straightens up as she remembers that this is the exact position in which she last saw Miss Jessel. As she rushes into the schoolroom to collect her things, the governess encounters a woman seated at the desk with her head in her hands. Unaware of her presence, the woman rises--"dishonoured and tragic"--before her. It is Miss Jessel, in all her "haggard beauty" and "unutterable woe." The governess feels for a moment that it is she who is the intruder, and is surprised to hear her own voice ringing through the empty house, crying, "You terrible miserable woman!" A moment later, there is nothing in the schoolroom with her but the sunshine and the sense that she must stay. Driven by her fear that Miles will expose her incompetence to his uncle, the young woman is preparing to leave Bly. In so doing, she would abandon the children and Mrs. Grose to the horror she suspects there. By deciding to stay, is the governess heroically conquering her fears in order to do battle with evil? Or has she, in a time of emotional crisis, suffered another hallucination? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XVI When Mrs. Grose returns from church, the governess explains her absence, saying she came back to the house for a talk with Miss Jessel. Miss Jessel, the governess reports, spoke to her, saying that she suffers "the torments-!" The two women try to make sense of the remark. The governess believes that Miss Jessel's remark means she wants Flora so the child can share the torments of the lost. In the previous chapter you witnessed the scene between the governess and the ghost, and you know that the governess reported no such remark. You know also that the governess didn't go back to the house to meet Miss Jessel, but rather to pack her bags and leave. Why then is she lying to Mrs. Grose now? Is she engaging in a harmless exaggeration in order to convince Mrs. Grose of the danger of their situation? Or are the lies evidence that the ghosts exist only in her mind? The young woman has decided to send for the children's uncle. She will show Miles that she isn't afraid. She will show his uncle the letter from the school, and say she can do nothing on behalf of a child expelled for wickedness. She believes that Miles is wicked, and she blames his uncle for leaving the boy in Peter Quint's charge. Mrs. Grose wrestles with her own guilt for not having mentioned the trouble with Quint to the uncle earlier. The two women wonder how to present their story. They decide that the governess should write. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XVII That evening, when the governess pauses at the door to Miles's room, he calls to her to come in. The boy is a model of grace and sociability, and there is no evidence of any trouble between them. The matter of school is still troubling him. It isn't that he dislikes Bly--he just wants to get away. His governess starts to explain that he can't return to his old school, but Miles claims he doesn't want to go back there. She asks if there is anything he wants to tell her. All he wants, he says, is for her to leave him alone. She tells him she is writing to his uncle, and Miles urges her to finish the letter. He begs her to get his uncle to Bly and tell him everything. Boldly, she asks what happened at his school. In his echo, "What happened?" the governess thinks she hears a "small faint quaver of consenting consciousness." But does Miles say anything to indicate his guilt? Or have her months of worry about his dismissal led the governess to invent something like an admission here? She drops to her knees and begs him to help her in her effort to save him. In answer, a gust of cold air shakes the room. Miles shrieks, but is it a shriek of terror or one of jubilation? In spite of the darkness, the governess can see that the curtains are still drawn, that the window is still closed. She cries that her candle is out. Miles answers that it was he who blew it out. NOTE: One of the first critics to suggest that the ghosts exist only in the governess's mind has suggested that a good way to understand The Turn of the Screw is to imagine its scenes as they would be experienced by normal children. Here, he says, is a ten-year-old boy whose governess barges into his room, asking him questions in a strange tone of voice, throwing herself upon him, then begging him to let her save him. Is it any wonder, he asks, that the boy might shriek in fright? Do you agree with this approach, or do you think the boy's shriek indicates the evil that surrounds him? When Miles blows out the candle, is it the normal act of a boy about to go to bed, or the evil act of a boy in love with darkness? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XVIII The governess has written her letter to the children's uncle, but she hasn't mailed it. Meanwhile, Miles and Flora seem to be trying to calm her. They perform their lessons brilliantly. Miles in particular seems so bright and handsome that she has to fight against doubting her previous judgment of him: she "aches" for proof that evil in Miles "could ever have flowered into an act." One afternoon, Miles plays the piano for the governess, and plays as he never has before. NOTE: The young woman says, "David playing to Saul could not have shown a finer sense of the occasion." This refers to I Samuel, xvi 14-23 in the Old Testament. In the biblical story, King Saul--possessed by an evil spirit--sends for the young David. As the youth plays on his harp, the evil spirit leaves the king. Here the governess is likened to Saul, and Miles to David. While Miles plays the piano, the governess forgets the matters that have been troubling her. In a sense, the "evil spirit" leaves her while he is playing. The governess starts up. Did she doze off under the influence of the music? No, she has done something much worse: she has forgotten about Flora. Miles claims not to know where she is. Mrs. Grose and the governess vow not to panic, but when there is no sign of her, they cannot suppress their alarm. The governess suspects that Flora has gone to meet Miss Jessel while Miles, she says, must be in the schoolroom with Quint. His piano playing was a distraction so "they" could work their plan. Telling Mrs. Grose not to worry, she takes her letter to their employer from her pocket and leaves it on the hall table for a servant to carry to the village. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XIX The governess and Mrs. Grose head for the lake, where Miss Jessel first appeared. The governess is sure that Miles managed for Flora to return there alone. When Mrs. Grose asks if the children actually talk about Miss Jessel and Quint, the governess replies with assurance that "They say things that, if we heard them, would simply appal us." She promises that Miss Jessel will be with Flora. The governess does not give up, even when they come within sight of the lake and find no trace of Flora. She believes that Flora has taken the boat, then hidden it in a clump of trees on the opposite shore. Mrs. Grose wonders how a small child could accomplish this alone, and the young woman reminds her that Flora is not alone. "At such times," she adds, "she's not a child: she's an old, old woman." NOTE: This image of Flora, transfigured by the spirit of the dead, stands in marked contrast to descriptions of her as a beautiful child, and graphically illustrates the other side of the child's dual nature, as seen by the governess. The image is reminiscent of the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and illustrates his influence on the work of Henry James. Both women spot Flora at the same moment. She smiles as they approach her with solemnity, and asks gaily where Miles is. The question strikes the governess like the "glitter of a drawn blade, the jostle of the cup" that the governess had "held high and full to the brim and that now, even before speaking," she "felt overflow in a deluge." "Where, my pet," the governess asks in turn, "is Miss Jessel?" NOTE: Once again, readers who believe that the governess is mad find it useful to imagine this scene from a normal child's point of view. A little girl has gone off happily to play by herself. Suddenly she's confronted by her governess, greatly upset, who asks her if she has seen a woman that everyone knows to be dead. What would your reaction be in such a situation? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XX As the governess utters the dead woman's name, she sees Miss Jessel appear on the opposite shore. Here at last is proof of her sanity. In an extraordinary moment she throws out to the ghost "an inarticulate message of gratitude." Once again, it is interesting to note that a ghost appears to the governess at a moment of crisis: when she loses Flora and then finally mentions the dead governess's name to the little girl. What might this suggest about the ghosts? The governess screams that Miss Jessel is there, but Flora only stares at her. Mrs. Grose blinks at where the young woman is pointing, and wonders, "where on earth do you see anything?" The governess is devastated. Mrs. Grose would back her up if at all possible. Flora protests against the cruelty of her governess, and begs to be taken away. The governess feels stunned and bitter. Of course she has lost Flora--she has interfered with Miss Jessel's plans. Weeping, the young woman falls to the ground. The next quarter hour is a blur. Back at the house, she sees neither Flora nor Mrs. Grose, and discovers that Flora's things have been moved into Mrs. Grose's room. Miles comes and sits with her in absolute silence, and she has the feeling that he wants to be with her. Notice how carefully James has balanced the scales in this scene, so that you continue to be unsure of what the governess did or did not see. At first, the governess's description of Miss Jessel is so vivid that it provides to her (and to you) final confirmation that the ghost is real. But when Mrs. Grose cannot see the phantom, you and the governess both begin to suffer doubts. ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XXI Later, the governess is awakened by Mrs. Grose. Flora is running a fever. She is raving against her governess, and still claims not to have seen Miss Jessel. But her language is so shocking that Mrs. Grose can't imagine where Flora could have picked it up--unless from the evil ghost. In spite of her inability to see Miss Jessel the day before, the housekeeper now believes in the ghosts and their doings. The governess feels a surge of joy. She urges Mrs. Grose to take Flora to her uncle, away from the influence of Quint and Miss Jessel. She thinks Miles wants to say something to her, and she needs time to win him over before she faces her employer. Mrs. Grose resolves to leave that morning, and the governess warns that her letter will have arrived ahead of Mrs. Grose, alerting Flora's uncle to the problems at Bly. The servants never saw the letter, replies Mrs. Grose, and the only explanation is that Miles must have taken it. Could it be that Miles stole letters at school? The governess is determined to make Miles confess. The letter, she assures Mrs. Grose, contained nothing more than a request for an interview. This may seem strange to you. After all, didn't the governess promise that this letter would save them all? Even at this late date, is she still so afraid of her employer's disapproval that she can only write to request an interview--not explain a terrible emergency? Is this another example of the young woman's unreliability? Does it influence your impression of her in any way? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XXII Once Flora and Mrs. Grose leave, the relationship between Miles and his governess changes. She no longer pretends she has anything to teach him, and he is free to do what he pleases. The governess tries shutting her eyes to the fact that what she has to deal with is, "revoltingly, against nature," and tries to pretend that her ordeal requires "only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue." At dinner, Miles asks if Flora is very ill, and wonders if Bly did not agree with her suddenly. His governess explains that it had been building for a while. While the maid clears the table, neither of them speaks. The governess thinks their silence is like that of a young couple at an inn on their wedding night, who feel shy in the presence of a waiter. When the maid leaves them, Miles turns to his governess and says, "Well--so we're alone!" The image of the bashful bride and groom on their wedding night can be seen as evidence of an unhealthy attraction on the part of the governess for her young charge, whom she often calls "my boy." ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XXIII "Of course we've the others," Miles adds. Is he simply referring to members of the household staff at Bly? His governess concurs, but which "others" do you suppose she means? Even a slight misperception such as this can result in a great misunderstanding. If the governess thinks Miles is referring to the ghosts, then she not only has a confirmation of her own suspicions, but an admission from Miles that he is involved as well. Miles stands with his forehead against the window, seeming shut in or out, uncomfortable and anxious. In his free time today he has seen more of Bly than ever before. His governess asks if he likes his freedom, and he wonders in turn if she likes hers. Miles is surprised to hear it is his company that she enjoys and that now keeps her on at Bly. His governess reminds him of her pledge to help him. He remembers that she wanted him to tell her something. Is that what she is still waiting for? It is, she answers. Why doesn't he--here and now--make a clean breast of it? Miles seems afraid. Is it significant that he is now fearful of her? He promises to tell her everything, but not now. He turns to the window as if there were someone outside to be reckoned with. He must see one of the servants. But his governess wants just a fraction of the story before he goes. Did he take her letter from the hall table? ^^^^^^^^^^ THE TURN OF THE SCREW: SECTION XXIV When she sees the face of Peter Quint appear at the window, the governess struggles to keep Miles unaware. As she shields the boy from the apparition, her heroism takes on missionary zeal. It is, thinks this vicar's daughter, "like fighting for a human soul." Miles's face is as white as the face in the window. His voice sounds far away as he admits to having taken the letter. Quint wheels at the window like "a baffled beast." Miles took the letter, opened it, and read it. He wanted to see what she had said about him. At the window there is now nothing at all. Miles found nothing in the letter. The governess asks if this is what he did at school, and Miles is amazed that she knows about his dismissal. He answers with difficulty that he did not steal, but he "said things." Use of bad language may hardly seem like grounds for dismissal, but Miles assures her that it was enough. Both Flora and Miles have picked up language that Mrs. Grose and the schoolmasters find shocking. Is this what they learned from Quint and Miss Jessel? The whole matter becomes less and less clear. The young woman is gripped with alarm as she wonders if Miles might be innocent. For, if he is innocent, what does that make her? When she asks bluntly what he said, Miles starts moving away, but the governess springs straight at him. For there, at the window, the white face has reappeared. "No more, no more, no more!" she screams at the ghost as she presses Miles against her. Miles grows wild with fear. In a panting voice he asks if "she" is there. He has clearly spoken with Flora since the incident at the lake and has heard of the sighting of Miss Jessel's ghost. His governess answers that the horror is not Miss Jessel. In a bewildered rage, Miles searches the room. "It's he?" he asks. Certain that he means Peter Quint, the governess is determined to have her proof. "Whom do you mean by 'he'?" she asks. Convulsing, Miles screams, "Peter Quint--you devil! Where?" At the window Miles sees nothing but the quiet day. He utters a cry like "the cry of a creature hurled over an abyss," and his governess catches him, and holds him. The ghost of Peter Quint is gone. And Miles's heart has stopped. NOTE: When Miles says, "Peter Quint--you devil," was he addressing the ghost or his governess? Did the ghost's departure stop Miles's heart? Or did his governess scare him to death? Whichever interpretation you choose, the important themes remain the same. One is ambiguity: what is real? Another is evil: whether evil exists externally (in the shape of actual ghosts) or internally (in the obsessions of a deranged mind), it is always with us. That sense of evil remains at the end of The Turn of the Screw, one of the greatest tales of the supernatural in all literature. ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER & THE TURN OF THE SCREW: HENRY JAMES ON THE ART OF FICTION Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every airborne particle in its tissue. It is the very atmosphere of the mind; and when the mind is imaginative--much more when it happens to be that of a man of genius--it takes to itself the faintest hints of life, it converts the very pulses of the air into revelations... The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implication of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it--this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience.... If experience consists of impressions, it may be said that impressions are experience just as (have we not seen it?) they are the very air we breathe. Therefore, if I should certainly say to a novice, "Write from experience and experience only," I should feel that this was rather a tantalising monition if I were not careful immediately to add, "Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!" Henry James, "The Art of Fiction," 1888 ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER & THE TURN OF THE SCREW: ON HENRY JAMES AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL NOVEL James's formal concerns, in sum, are closely related to his preoccupation as a psychological novelist. He was interested in psychological manifestations of all kinds, and the interest in the varieties of consciousness is reflected in his technical experiments with limited narrative points of view. At first this method of presenting and organizing his subjects served him primarily as a compositional device to achieve focus and thereby clarity and intensity. In time consciousness became his very subject. Christopher Wegelin, Tales of Henry James, 1984 ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER & THE TURN OF THE SCREW: ON HENRY JAMES'S GHOSTS Henry James's ghosts have nothing in common with the violent old ghosts--the blood-stained sea captains, the white horses, the headless ladies of dark lanes and windy commons. They have their origin within us. They are present whenever the significant overflows our powers of expressing it; whenever the ordinary appears ringed by the strange. The baffling things that are left over, the frightening ones that persist--these are the emotions that he takes, embodies, makes consoling and companionable. Virginia Woolf, "Henry James's Ghost Stories," 1921 ^^^^^^^^^^ DAISY MILLER & THE TURN OF THE SCREW: ON THE TURN OF THE SCREW AND STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS We have here thus in reality two stories, and a method that foreshadows the problems of the stream-of-consciousness writer. One is the area of fact, the other the area of fancy. There is the witness, in this case the governess and her seemingly circumstantial story, and there is the mind itself, the contents of which are given to the reader. The reader must establish for himself the credibility of the witness; he must decide between what the governess supposed and what she claims she saw.... The reader's mind is forced to hold to two levels of awareness: the story as told, and the story to be deduced. This is the calculated risk Henry James took in writing for audiences not prepared to read him so actively. The writer of stream of consciousness takes the same risk. Leon Edel, The Psychological Novel: 1900-1950, 1955 THE END