Study Guide

Daisy Miller Dissatisfaction

By Henry James


If the Rolling Stones thought they couldn't get no satisfaction , they should have spent an afternoon with Frederick Winterbourne. Dude is disaffected as all get-out. Though he stays at fancy hotels and houses, doesn't work, and can go anywhere he wants whenever he wants all over Europe, we get the sense that Winterbourne is a bit glum. Why? Well, he's bored and his life has no meaning.

We also see this guy's dissatisfaction reflected in others in Daisy Miller. Randolph Miller's dissatisfied with Europe; Mrs. Costello's dissatisfied with Daisy; Mrs. Walker's dissatisfied with people; Mrs. Miller has some kind of incurable stomach condition. Maybe when yoga teachers go on and on about how the world gives you back the same kind of energy you put into it, they're on to something. Namaste.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. How do Mrs. Costello and Mrs. Miller's illnesses reflect on their respective characters? Why does Henry James use the trope of illness with both of them?
  2. Does Daisy grow more satisfied or less satisfied over the course of the story? What about Winterbourne?
  3. Who is the most satisfied character in the story? Is anyone? How about the most dissatisfied character?

Chew on This

Randolph Miller is the external representation of Winterbourne's internal dissatisfied child.

Giovanelli is the only character in the novel who is truly satisfied because he exists outside of the American social scene.