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Although modern women have somewhat overcome the unfair prejudice and the degradation of the female gender, women in the nineteenth century were forced to deal with a culture in which gender equality was much less understood and existed. The nineteenth century society often placed specific, stereotypical, and restrictive standards on how the female gender should behave. The gazes, which can be described as ¡°the viewing relationship characteristic of a particular set of social circumstances¡±(The Gaze), of various characters at the American woman in literature reflect such gender inequality in the old, conservative society. Especially, in the short story Daisy Miller by Henry James, the gazes of Winterbourne at Daisy during their first meeting, Mrs. Costello at Daisy when having a conversation with Winterbourne, and James at the Miller women and Mrs. Walker are the good examples to present the gender inequality in such conservative society. They are used to create the appropriate behaviors of American women and to demonstrate how the female gender was seen by the other sex as well as the same sex between the young-American and the old-European societies in the nineteenth century.


The gaze of Winterbourne at Daisy during their first meeting clearly illustrates how the female gender was seen by the other sex. As Daisy approaches toward Winterbourne and her brother Randolph, Winterbourne is immediately attracted to the pretty American girl. James writes ¡°She was dressed in white muslin, with a hundred frills and flounces, and knots of pale-colored ribbon. She was bareheaded, but she balanced in her hand a large parasol, with a deep border of embroidery; and she was strikingly, admirably pretty. How pretty they are! thought Winterbourne, straightening himself in his seat, as if he were prepared to rise¡±(4). Winterbourne¡¯s gaze on the physical features of Daisy shows that she is from the wealthy family. Also, his impression, ¡°How pretty they are!¡±, suggests that Winterbourne immediately makes a judgment about Daisy as a typical pretty American girl and he does not individualize her as a unique person. Furthermore, the reaction of his body shows his sexual arousal at the sight of Daisy. This tells that the American woman is seen as a sexual object either consciously or unconsciously. As the conversation of Winterbourne and Daisy continues, Winterbourne considers Daisy as a flirt. James writes ¡°He was inclined to think Miss Daisy Miller was a flirt--a pretty American flirt. He had never, as yet, had any relations with young ladies of this category¡±(10). This indicates that Winterbourne misjudges Daisy¡¯s uncultivated and innocent manner as a flirt and distinguishes her into a category as a pretty American flirt he had never met before. All of these clearly show how a man comes to the conclusion about the American women by only looking at women¡¯s physical features and the body reactions that he receives.


The gaze of Mrs. Costello at Daisy when having a conversation with Winterbourne shows how the female gender was seen by the same sex and how the American woman should behave in the women¡¯s point of view. James writes ¡° They are very common, Mrs. Costello declared. They are the sort of Americans that one does ones duty by not--not accepting ¡±(1). Mrs. Costello¡¯s comment about Daisy and her family confirms the disapproval and the contempt of Daisy¡¯s family since they are common according to her. In other words, Mrs. Costello immediately looks down upon the Daisy¡¯s family because of their new money and unsophisticated conduct. Also, she blames them for not accepting the code of social behavior since Daisy refuses to obey the rules of European society. It is clear to see that Mrs. Costello disapproves a woman, who acts only on her free will and spontaneous impulse. When Winterbourne tells his aunt that he is going to take Daisy to Chateau de Chillon, Mrs. Costello responds, ¡° Dear me! cried Mrs. Costello. What a dreadful girl! ¡±(15). Her response shows the negativity toward Daisy since Winterbourne and Daisy decided to go to the old castle together after knowing each other only for half an hour. In the Mrs. Costello¡¯s point of view, Daisy¡¯s such act is unimaginable since it is against the code of conduct for women to go to places with foreign men. Since Mrs. Costello is incapable to notice beyond these issues, she immediately judges Daisy based on the stereotype she sees her fulfilling as the young American flirt. All of these surely show that Mrs. Costello only accepts the idea that women must follow the customs and traditions of old Europe. Also, they show that a woman judges the same sex based on her way of life and belief.


Last, the gaze of James at the Miller women and Mrs. Walker illustrates how the female was seen by the opposite sex and how the behaviors of women from the American society were different compare to the behaviors of women from the European society. James categorizes the Miller women and Mrs. Walker to show the different lifestyle that they pursued. James writes ¡°This lady and her daughter, however, were not at home; and on the next day after, repeating his visit, Winterbourne again had the misfortune not to find them¡±(4). This portrays the lifestyle that the Miller women pursued. Their preference on the outward action and the loose modes of custom is reflected on the fact that they are often not at home. Also, for Mrs. Walker, James writes ¡°Mrs. Walker was one of those American ladies who, while residing abroad, make a point, in their own phrase, of studying European society, and she had on this occasion collected several specimens of her diversely born fellow mortals to serve, as it were, as text-books¡±(4). This quotation depicts that Mrs. Walker¡¯s lifestyle is to achieve the greater approval of her social circle by staying home most of time and having a party to which she can invite her social peers. Also, it shows that she focuses on the appearance and the formal propriety of women in the European society. It is clear that Mrs. Walker uses her party to observe the European society instead of participating in it. Such contrasting lifestyles surely categorize women between the American and the European society.


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In the nineteenth century, women were required to behave in the rigid rules of formalized civil society. When women denied accepting such strict and conservative standards, they were ridiculed and rejected by their social circle and compatriots. In Daisy Miller by Henry James, the gazes of Winterbourne at Daisy during their first meeting, Mrs. Costello at Daisy when having a conversation with Winterbourne, and James at the Miller women and Mrs. Walker are used to prove the unfairness toward women due to the strict rules of the old society. Also, they are used to show the suitable behaviors that the American women should pursue and to illustrate how women were seen by the other sex as well as the same sex between the American and the European society. Although women of today are still striving for gender equality, James and his characters surely helped to light the way for gender equality to go one step further.





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