Daisy time period of these novels is crucial when

Daisy Miller, is a novella about a young and pretty American
girl named Daisy Miller and her courtship with a young American named Winterbourne.
Written by Henry James in 1878, James explored many themes within his novel such
as respect, the role of women, foreignness, tradition and many more. Sister Carrie, is a novel written by Theodore
Dreiser, about a young suburban girl who moves to the big city with an American
Dream. Similarly, to James, Dreiser explores many themes within his novel, such
as: the role of women and femininity, class, and society, and many more. The
readers must bear in mind that the time period of these novels is crucial when
discussing the representation of women and female revolts, mainly because the
expectations of women in the nineteenth century were to be more domestic and
less adventurous and outspoken. Throughout this essay, the representation of
women and the female revolt will be heavily examined in terms of its context
and origin in time.

Daisy Miller, is a story that revolves around the main
character Daisy, who is a rather independent, self-confident, and naïve individual
in her escapades across Europe. With a rather unrefined American nature, her
antics manage to make a reputation for herself within society, leading
Winterbourne to become indecisive about his feelings and position with her.
James, is successful at exploring the representation of female revolt in his
novella as the main character, Daisy, challenges the ideal conventions of a woman
in the nineteenth century period. “I have never allowed a gentleman to dictate
to me, or to interfere with anything I do.”1
From this quote the reader can infer that Daisy is a very independent lady and doesn’t
like to rely upon or trust a gentleman’s opinion. In a time where society was most
likely patriarchal, Daisy is extremely firm when taking a stand against Winterbourne,
after he attempts to discourage her from hanging out with a man she just met,
Giovanelli, she even uses the term “imperious”2
to describe Winterbourne’s domineering assertion. In Richard Hocks study of
short fiction, Hocks explores how Daisy is an individual who “ignores class
structures and customary behaviour…treating all she meets as equal human beings.”3
It is clear that Hock is able to make links between Daisy’s character and the
theme of class and society in James’ novella, he suggests that whilst she goes
against the customary behaviour she treats every individual the same, which can
be seen as a positive quality as she does not treat anyone differently
depending on their status or class. Again, a characteristic that is not
conventional for a woman in the nineteenth century.

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perspective the readers can understand about the female revolt and/or role of women
is the way in which the male characters view them. For example, the way in
which Winterbourne admirably describes Daisy’s beauty is by grouping her into a
category with other attractive, American women. “How pretty they are,”4
Winterbourne is categorizing Daisy with other Americans as he uses the term ‘they’,
although he is attracted to her he refuses to identify her as an individual,
but instead as part of a group, a type. The fact that Winterbourne chooses to
place women into categories shows that he either objectifies or makes an
opinion about the women he comes across. Later in the novel, as Winterbourne
realises Daisy is a girl of a flirty nature, the reader can begin to understand
why he groups women together. As Robert Weisbuch mentions in Pollack’s, New Essays on Daisy Miller, and The Turn of
the Screw.  The American Novel Series, he
states that, “Winterbourne will not allow women to be, will not grant them an integrating
wholeness, will instead dissect and categorize.”5
This explains why Winterbourne is a man who has a demeaning attitude and
perspective towards women, as he could dislike them, and even more so when they
emit negative traits. This links in to the representation of the female revolt
as the way women were perceived by the opposite sex in this book is of a mixed
opinion. At one stage they are deemed attractive and vibrant and then considered
a ‘type’ due to their characteristics and qualities.

the idea that Winterbourne could be against women who inhibit negative
qualities, he does make Daisy aware that her flirtatious nature is acceptable
and appropriate if he is the recipient of that flirting. This declaration makes
the reader want to question Winterbourne’s motives and character to understand
his morals better. In comparison to the other gentleman that Daisy comes
across, Mr. Giovanelli, there are many comparisons that can be made between the
two male characters. At the end of the novel, Mr. Giovanelli and Winterbourne
discuss Daisy over her grave with Giovanelli describing her as, “the most
beautiful young lady I ever saw, and the most amiable…and she was the most
This comment by Mr Giovanelli led Winterbourne to respond in shock over Daisy’s
innocence. Given the social setting that the two characters are in, the reader
can understand that Giovanelli is more mature and socially advanced with knowing
what to say at such a sad occasion, emphasising his gentlemanly character. With
this in mind, Weisbuch makes another observation claiming that, “Giovanelli is
not Winterbourne’s gigolo opposite so much as his double, and finally his
From this the reader can understand that the difference between the two male
characters is that Giovanelli is more advanced and educated in social settings
and considerate of people’s feelings and their situations. This links to the
representation of female revolt and the emancipation in the literature of the
period, as it is a moment in the novel where the two-male character are together
without their link (Daisy) and they discuss her being and her life. In this
section, the reader becomes aware of the conflicting views each gentleman had
of Daisy, emphasising the complex character she was.

Sister Carrie, is a story that revolves around a young country
girl, named Carrie, who moves from her small midwestern town to the big city, carrying
with her the hope of her American Dream. Similarly, to Daisy Miller, Sister Carrie is centralised around the main female
character (Carrie Meeber) and the two male characters with her interest
(Charles H. Drouet and George W. Hurstwood). Dreiser successfully manages to
explore many themes within his novel, as well as the representation of the
female revolt and their role in society. “…She began to get the hand of those
little things which the pretty woman who has vanity invariably adopts. In short,
her knowledge of grace doubled, and with it her appearance changed, She became
a girl of considerable taste.”8
From this quote the reader can understand that Dreiser is illustrating the
momentous scene where Carrie realises she is growing up and maturing, a pivotal
moment in the novel, offering the readers insight into how it happens and the
significance. This can be linked to Simone de Beauvoir’s article, The Second Sex, where she states, “One
is not born, but rather, becomes a woman.”9
Beauvoir is suggesting that one can distinguish sex from gender and that gender
is something that is a part of an individual’s identity that is progressively developed.
Carrie is key example of this idea as she is accepting her womanhood as she

1 Page 37

2 Page 36

3 Page 33 Hocks,
Richard A.  Henry James:  A Study of the Short Fiction.  Twayne’s Studies in Short Fiction.  Boston: 
Twayne Publishers, 1990.

4 Page 10

5 Pollack
76- Pollak, Vivian R., ed.  New Essays on
Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw. 
The American Novel Series.  New
York:   Cambridge University Press, 1993.

6 Page 56

7 Pollack

8 Page 74 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fGSjEpqOkO4C=frontcover=sister+carrie=en=X=0ahUKEwjfmrDovdnYAhWHDcAKHbAgBuYQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage=She%20looked%20in%20the%20mirror%20and%20pursed%20up%20her%20lips%2C%20accompanying%20it%20with%20a%20little%20toss%20of%20the%20head%2C%20as%20she%20had%20seen%20the%20railroad%20treasurer’s%20daughter%20do.&f=false

9 https://www.jstor.org/stable/2930225?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents