Daisy Miller: Finding Personal Identity as an Ugly American
Vampire Academy for Phlebotomy and Psychology
September 20, 2010
Daisy Miller is forced to address her personal identity in the book because she is only able to identify with being American by putting down others she meets. By today’s standards, Daisy would be considered “fake” or disingenuous. For example, Daisy’s own family tells her secrets and hands out her real intentions to deceive others. Her brother tells Winterbourne that Daisy Miller “isn’t her real name; that isn’t her name on her cards….Her real name is Annie P. Miller” (Page by Page Books, 2010, p. 2). Winterbourne is of course surprised by each revelation about Daisy, but is quick to put Daisy into the broad category of “American flirt” and decides that “this young girl was not a coquette in that sense; she was very unsophisticated; she was only a pretty American flirt” (Page by Page Books, 2010, p. 6). The foreigners or even expatriates Daisy meets are in the same category of people who (to her own mind) do not rise to this arbitrary standard she has made for herself and others she meets in Europe. She is only interested in talking about herself, and is arrogant, though considered to be charming, with the people she meets. For example, she is condescending to Winterbourne when she first meets him. She asks him if he is German, and tells him that she wonders if he is a “real American” (Page by Page Books, 2010). She tells him that she is from New York State and asks him “if you know where that is” (Page by Page Books, 2010, p. 1), which presupposes that he is not intelligent to know about the basic geography of the United States. To Winterbourne, Daisy moves between being unsophisticated and worldly, but in Daisy’s own eyes, she personally identifies herself with an aristocrat among barbarians. Daisy is in the development stage of finding her personal identity, and identifying with those around her by a...
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