Theme of Status in Daisy Miller

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In the short story, “Daisy Miller”, by Edith Wharton, a common obsession is found with the status and respectability of the characters presented in the story. Edith develops this obsession as a theme that is supported by European and American ideals, character’s viewpoints, and character’s actions in the story “Daisy Miller”. The theme of status and respectability is largely developed by the ideals of the society found within Daisy Miller. The story originates in Switzerland and then later goes on to take place in Rome. In each of these cities, the story implies that status is highly regarded and that the society looks down upon certain unrespectable behaviors. The European societies of Daisy Miller watch and titter over the apparent reckless behavior of this young girl, as this behavior is not acceptable to the upper class. Daisy Miller, as viewed by the European society, a reckless, flirtatious, and imprudent girl, who does not heed societal standards. Her most dishonorable actions are that she tends to spend time with various men in the community.The upper classes find that Daisy’s promenading with various men in public is of upmost disgrace. Throughout the story their views on this sort of behavior are often voiced. In a conversation between Winterbourne, a man who becomes slightly involved with Daisy, and Mrs. Walker, an overseer of Daisy, the criticism of Daisy Miller’s actions is voiced. “ That girl must not do this sort of thing. She must not walk here with you two men. Fifty people have noticed her.” Winterbourne raised his eyebrows. “I think it’s a pity to make too much fuss about it.” “I think it’s a pity to let the girl ruin herself!”

The story Daisy Miller tends to revolve around this idea that Daisy is “ruining herself” due to her irresponsible actions. The society of Europe is very absorbed with Daisy’s respectability; an example of how to the respectability of an individual greatly affects their status in society. Because Daisy and...
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