Both Henry James' Daisy Miller and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wall-paper depict male characters that are unable to understand their female counter-points. In Daisy Miller, the suitor Winterbourne fails to comprehend Daisy's true character, and in The Yellow Wall-paper, the husband John cannot understand his wife's ailment. In these stories, the two male characters attempt to remedy the respective female's problem. In Daisy Miller Winterbourne attempts to culture Daisy by giving her advice and trying to tell her how to act and what to do, and in The Yellow Wall-paper John attempts to cure the narrator's illness by containing her in a room and setting absolute rules for her to abide. The two works share a common theme: the men in these stories attempt to authoritatively impress their ideals and expectations on the women, but prove to be ultimately inadequate at prescribing solutions to the female problem.
[...] Winterbourne has declared that he is speaking for Daisy, which implies that he thinks she is not capable of speaking for herself. There is an interesting contrast in the ways that line can be interpreted: for Winterbourne it is a very gallant and masculine thing to say, but for Daisy, it is a very domineering and negative thing, which strips her of her independence. Perhaps this is the Winterbourne that Daisy would be stuck with if the two were to marry. A lack of independence and a loss of self are the plight of the domesticated woman, as depicted [...]
[...] At many points in the story, he perceives her actions and intimations as fickle, and thus cannot determine her personality and integrity—when Daisy seems insincere to him while discussing a boating trip to Chillon, for example (481). In any case, his “formula” is an attempt to simplify and label Daisy, and Winterbourne begins to mold Daisy as he sees fit. For if she is simply a “pretty American flirt,” than she could be fashioned—in his image—as a more formal, europeanized lady. [...]
[...] Costello's “exclusiveness” of company, suggests that Winterbourne would like to assign certain traits to Daisy's character: “Winterbourne wondered whether she was seriously wounded, and for a moment almost wished that her sense of injury might be such as to make it becoming in him to attempt to reassure and comfort her. He had a pleasant sense that she would be very approachable for consolatory purposes” (479). This passage suggests Winterbourne' desire and predisposition to alter Daisy's character. Even though Mrs. [...]
[...] As the story progresses, again Winterbourne seems to know the right thing for Daisy to do, or the correct way for her to think and act. In reference to Giovanelli, Winterbourne says, think you have made a mistake . You should sometimes listen to a gentleman—the right one?' and [Giovanelli is] not the right one' (491). Here, Winterbourne apparently knows what is right for Daisy; he apparently knows simultaneously that Giovanelli is not the proper man for her, and that he himself is the proper man. [...]
[...] In this passage, Winterbourne's idealized vision of Daisy is not at all realistic—it is nothing like her character, and it is a bit naïve and overly Romantic (Daisy is framed in an Roman window”). Also, it is important to note that this passage, and thus Winterbourne's thoughts, relate simply to image of a very pretty and thus not specifically to Daisy herself. In other words, this image of a waiting, wanting girl is the image of any girl—as long as she is waiting for and wanting him—and it is not specifically Daisy. [...]
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