She’s No Angel!

The “woman in white” whom we see in the Pincio Gardens during the Punch and Judy Show is almost certainly a high class Roman prostitute (or courtesan, if you prefer).  The speculation in class that she is Winterbourne’s “foreign lady… older than himself” from Geneva is highly implausible: she is alone and unchaperoned, exposed to view in a public park.

Peggy McCormack’s article says: “This woman very deliberately attracts Winterbourne’s glance in a clearly suggestive manner.” And Winterbourne obviously doesn’t know her, when he meets her glance, he looks away, he’s not interested. McCormack goes on to say that this encounter causes Winterbourne to doubt Daisy’s innocence again, but I’m not sure she’s right about that, though it’s possible. My own view would be that we are to take in the contrast between the openly flirtatious girl dressed in white with her innocent delight in the puppet show, and the slyly suggestive posture of the courtesan who is also dressed in white.

 

Daisy Miller: Reckless or Innocent?

Daisy Miller was a movie that I found very frustrating. Most of the basis of the movie was about the judgment of people and confining with social norms. Miss Walker is constantly judging Daisy on what she is doing and with whom she is doing it with. Miss Walker insists that Daisy Miller is a reckless American girl. During this time period I understand it was common to judge people and wonder what choices they were making but Miss Walker took it very far in my opinion. Miss Walker even felt the need to stop Daisy being judged and was trying to make her get into her carriage so that people wouldn’t see her walking around with two men. This was infuriating to me because Daisy was simply walking around with the two men and people had something to say about it. Did Daisy know that people would be talking about her for something as simple as that, and if she did was that why she did it?

At the end of the movie Mr. Winterbourne says he cannot decide if Daisy Miller is really reckless or really innocent and this was something that stuck with me after I watched the movie. I did not know the answer to this question and that was why I continued to think about it after the movie was over. Miss Miller knew that she was a flirt, she admitted that, but did she really think walking around with two men and her actions would cause such a fuss? Daisy knew she was wrong for telling Mr. Winterbourne that she was engaged and we could see this when on her deathbed she wants to make sure Mr. Winterbourne knew that she wasn’t telling the truth. Was Daisy responsible for herself not finding love or was Mr. Winterbourne to blame as well for never speaking up? I thought the last scene of the movie was shot very well. I liked the way the camera zoomed out of Mr. Winterbourne and had the voice overs going on while this was happening. This really gave me the feeling that Mr. Winterbourne was feeling regret and the scene put a lot of emphasis on the thoughts he was having about Daisy Millers death. I think that the way this scene was done made the ending of the movie much better than if it were filmed as just Mr. Winterbourne saying those things on a regular shot screen.

Lend Me a Tenor

The Bogdanovich Daisy Miller includes two tenor arias: One is sung lightheartedly by Mr. Giovanelli at Mrs. Walker’s party,

The other is sung with deadpan expression and great seriousness by an operatic tenor in seventeenth-century military costume (played by Salvatore Lisitano) in a production attended by Winterbourne at the Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome.

What I didn’t notice till this time through the film was that they were the very same aria, “La rivedrà nell’ estasi,” from Act I of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera.

If you’d like to hear Placido Domingo sing it for you, check out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qbzFi6vU_k

The words go:

La rivedrà nell'estasi 
Raggiante di pallore . . . 
E qui sonar d'amore 
La sua parola udrà. 
O dolce notte, scendere 
Tu puoi gemmata a festa: 
Ma la mia stella è questa 
Che il ciel non ha!
Quest'è mia stella!
When I see her, pale and radiant,
my soul will be in ecstasy,
and as I listen to her voice,
it will seem to speak of love.
O sweet night, come down,
Bejeweled as for a feast;
Ah, but she is my only star
A star the heavens cannot boast

Tiffany Robinson’s Post on Daisy Miller

The consequences and benefits of following the norms of society:

 

Daisy Miller was a victim of society. Her potential at love was snubbed by the high ideals of the European society around her. Bogdanovich did a good job of portraying Daisy as a fun, free spirited American girl. We see this in her undying resistance to the societal norms when she walks about with two men in the park and goes out late with men. The portrayal of Daisy and her mother as people who do not know how to hold intellectual conversations shows the viewers that Daisy is acting from learned behavior. They often babble and speak very quickly about topics which no one else seems to care about. When discussing romance Daisy and Winterbournes attraction was instant. This can be seen in the scene on the open terrace where Winterbourne first meets her brother Randolph and Daisy. We continue to watch Winterbournes amazement and intrigue with Daisy throughout the movie. WInterbournes attraction lay in the fact that Daisy was not stuck up and stiff like the other women in the society around him and even though those were the standards in which he was raised he realizes that the fun loving spirit of this girl is in fact refreshing. It’s always said that old habits die hard though and WInterbourne lives true to this saying when he returns to find Daisy spending ample amounts of time with Mr. Giovanelli. WInterbourne starts to loose site of the free spirit Daisy is and in turn begins to judge her just as everyone else in society had all along. He could no longer ignore his upbringing. But even in his efforts to look at Daisy as a woman not deserving of his attention we see that Winterbourne still cares very deeply for her in the scene in the coliseum in the middle of the night. Winterbourne sternly reminds Mr.Giovanelli that Daisy is at risk of catching Roman fever. A man who did not care would’ve looked upon those two together and turned away without even saying a word to them as he had intended to do when he first took notice of them. His hesitation and turning back around was the true expression of his emotions for Daisy.

 

Throughout the movie it was said by the high society members that the fault of Daisy’s behavior was her mother’s. I believe that even though the judgments passed against Daisy were harsh these statements were in fact correct. If Mrs.Miller had raised Daisy to be more aware of the risks running around late at night could cause to her health and to her reputation as a woman she would have faired better in life. Even though one likes to say that they are not a slave to society there are certain norms in which we all must keep to have certain successes. Daisy’s stark defiance ultimately caused her untimely end.

Daisy Miller the Flirt

Misleading, flirtatious, tease, and jealous are some of the words that I found to describe Daisy Miller.

As I watched Daisy Miller, I couldn’t help but notice Daisy’s personality. From the moment she spoke her first line, I was taken back a bit. At first, I was surprised by how fast she spoke, how many things she could possibly talk about at once, and how she disregarded everything Mr. Windborn said. However, as the movie progressed, I noticed a different side to her. I noticed not only a flirtatious side but also, a carefree attitude. Two things I did not expect to encounter in Daisy Miller.

Daisy flirts and teases with Mr. Windborn consistently throughout the movie and the book. However, it is more noticeable and prominent in the movie. Daisy explains that she has “Many gentlemen” but also admits to having an “intimate” relationship with a man to the man she has been leading on.

In the movie, Ms. Walker expresses a disliking for Daisy’s habits (46:00). She speaks down about how her mother “allows her to walk with men”. This implies that Daisy does this often and neither her mother nor Daisy feels any shame for it. Ms. Walker calls Daisy “reckless” and “old enough to be talk about”. Daisy is a young lady that is spoken about in a non-respectful manor by men and women. Her reckless behavior of teasing and flirting is not going to get her what most women look for, true love. For the one reason that she is misleading and herself is unsure of what she wants.

The Verse That Daisy Doesn’t Sing

 

The Verse Daisy Doesn’t Sing

In Peter Bogdanovich’s Daisy Miller, Cybill Shepherd sings one verse and the chorus of “When You and I Were Young.” Here is what she sings:

I wandered today to the hill, Maggie,
To watch the scene below;
The creek and the creaking old mill, Maggie,
As we used to, long ago.
The green grove is gone from the hill, Maggie,
Where first the daisies sprung;
The creaking old mill is still, Maggie,
Since you and I were young.

And now we are aged and gray, Maggie,
And the trials of life nearly done;
Let us sing of the days that are gone, Maggie,
When you and I were young.

The irony is clear enough as it stands–Daisy will not live to be “aged and gray”–and like the early spring flower mentioned in the verse she will bloom and die.

But if you want a little extra irony, and don’t we all, here is the second verse–which Daisy does not sing–and which is even more appropriate for the cemetery where we finally hear the tune again, right at the very end, transposed into a minor key:

A city so silent and lone, Maggie,
Where the young and the gay and the best;
In polished white mansion of stone, Maggie,
Have each found a place of rest,
Is built where the birds used to play, Maggie,
And join in the songs that were sung;
For we sang as gay as they, Maggie,
When you and I were young.

(Actually this is the third time we hear it.  When we first hear the tune, it has been transposed into a minor key, and we hear it when Winterbourne and Daisy are walking toward the gloomy Chateau de Chillon. It seems to be nondiegetic mood music — until the two of them pass a wounded soldier playing the tune on a concertina….)

 

The Mystery of Daisy Miller

The Mystery of Daisy Miller

 

Is she innocent or is she not innocent? That is the question. Both the novel Daisy Miller by Henry James and the film Daisy Miller directed by Peter Bogdanovich explore Daisy’s behavior. In the film version, the viewer is presented with a clear representation of Daisy’s characteristics.

 

In the film it is clear that the people disapprove of Daisy’s flirtatious behavior. One person in particular who disapproves of her behavior is Mrs. Walker. When Mrs. Walker is riding in her carriage and sees Daisy walking around with Mr. Winterbourne and Mr. Giovanelli, Mrs. Walker tells Mr. Winterbourne, “That crazy girl mustn’t be allowed to do that sort of thing. Walking here like this with two men. Fifty people have noticed” (47:12). Daisy is seen prancing around with various gentlemen friends, particularly with Mr. Giovanelli at all hours of the night. Whenever Mr. Winterbourne goes to visit her at her hotel, she is never home. Even the concierge at the hotel laugh at Mr. Winterbourne’s attempts to see her. Daisy’s behavior has become the talk of the town as she is no longer invited to outings due to her scandalous actions.

 

Even Mr. Winterbourne questions Daisy’s behavior himself when he tells Charles, “She’s a mystery. I can’t decide if she’s rather reckless or if she’s innocent” (1:12:48). Throughout the film Mr. Winterbourne believes Daisy to be a young innocent girl. However, he starts to doubt himself when he discovers that she spends an ample amount of time with different men. When Mrs. Miller tells Mr. Winterbourne that she believes that Daisy might be engaged to Mr. Giovanelli, Mr. Winterbourne begins to question himself even more. When he asks Daisy if she is engaged to Mr. Giovanelli, he is unsure if he can believe her. It isn’t until the end of the film after Daisy’s death does he learn from Mr. Giovanelli that they were never engaged and that Daisy never would have married Mr. Giovanelli.

Clueless

The adaptation of Emma into a more modern version as depicted in Clueless was by far the most interesting. When the film started you already could see the obvious similarities between Emma and this adaptation. The characters are exactly the same as the novel but placed in a 21st century setting.

The director of Clueless seems to be adding a more dramatic and relatable dimension to the film for the viewers today. She updates the characters to fit today’s stereotypes while keeping the their originality intact as they were described in the novel. Cher is Emma but in more modern times, yes she is the spoiled rich girl that seems to have everything she has ever wanted but that seems to be a facade. She takes on a project of sorts with Tai as Emma does with Harriet in the novel. Throughout the movie it was obvious that Cher has is drawn to situations that needs fixing around her and she must fix them. Though at times she makes the situation worse she means well which I didn’t see the same characteristic in Emma throughout the novel.

This adaptation gives a new perspective of Jane Austen’s Emma in a way that wasn’t necessarily thought of before. The director worked with the cultural shifts of the 21st century and brought Jane Austen’s Emma into the modern world in wonderful way by using more modern ways of telling the story. There are a few scenes in which Heckerling replaces certain aspects with more modern things that work very well. An example is when Cher is giving her makeover to Tai and takes a picture of her to show her rather than a painting that was portrayed in the novel.

Female Agency in Clueless & Emma

‘Agency’ essentially refers to one’s own free will, in their capacity to act independently, and to make their own choices. It is, sadly, not uncommon to read of female literary characters who portray a lack of agency, in that they lack a sort of consciousness of themselves. The presence of female agency in Austen’s narratives, I think, will be in perpetual debate, especially regarding the characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. However, it is my opinion that most of Austen’s female characters find human agency throughout the novel, through different, unconventional attitudes. Emma portrays female agency negatively, through meddling and displaying power over other people’s actions, but also positively, through charitable actions of helping the poor. This binary contrast displays female agency in her ability to think for herself, and eventually succumb to her own morality, portrayed through her remorse for her ill treatment of Miss Bates. Her conscious, moral dimension as a female character is her female agency—giving her the conscious control over her own decisions based on her emotions.

This essence of female agency is not only carried into Clueless, but amplified with its cultural shifts of feminism. Cher mirrors Emma’s autonomy closely, in her seemingly spoiled, self-absorbed nature, contrasted with her charitable actions of fundraising for the Pismo Beach Disaster. However, Cher’s charitable actions in the film could be argued as depictions of her ironic subsets of her whimsical, rich girl attitude. However, Cher’s agency is present in other aspects of the films contemporary culture that reinforce Heckerling’s avocation for and transposition of Emma’s female agency. Cher displays autonomy in the control she has over her own body, in that, she remains a virgin in coinciding with her beliefs of waiting till she meets the right guy. The pressures of losing of virginity on young women is woven into the film, through Cher’s date with Christian, her friendships with Tai and Dionne, and I would also argue its placement in her (half) car ride home with Elton. However, Cher proves to be headstrong throughout the film in this aspect, displaying a sense of female agency regarding decisions involving herself and her body.