Study Guide

Daisy Miller Foreignness and "The Other"

By Henry James

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Foreignness and "The Other"

Someone once said that there are only two stories: (1) someone leaves home and (2) a stranger comes to town. The secret is, they're both the same story. Case in point: Daisy Miller. Home is really a foreign concept here. After all, everyone is more or less varying degrees of Other. Giovanelli is foreign to Daisy; Daisy is foreign to Winterbourne; Winterbourne is foreign to everybody. The takeaway? Foreign things are both more alluring and more frightening. Turns out, Henry James was majorly anticipating Bizarre Foods.

Questions About Foreignness and "The Other"

  1. Why does Winterbourne never return to America?
  2. Why would Mr. Miller send his family to Europe while he remains in New York? What can they hope to gain from their travels?
  3. What's the difference between the two different settings in the story? How does the change in setting affect the plot?
  4. How does each character make the most of the circumstances of being abroad?

Chew on This

Sexuality is the real foreign element in the novel; everything that is strange or otherworldly is immediately considered erotic.

Winterbourne is a man without a country. He's foreign to Europeans, Americans, and even himself.

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