Daisy Miller: Novel Summary: Part III
The story shifts to Rome, and Winterbourne comes to the ancient city in January to visit his aunt. She has heard a bit of gossip about Daisy, and she tells Winterbourne that Daisy has acquired several Roman followers, including one particular Italian man with a mustache who she takes with her to parties. Mrs. Costello remarks that men are free to associate with questionable women without endangering their social position, while women are not. For this reason, Mrs. Costello continues to shun the Millers. When Winterbourne asks about the mother watching over her daughter, Mrs. Costello makes the predictable remark that she doesn't know.
After hearing that Daisy has taken up with this Italian, Winterbourne decides to put off his visit with her. He instead goes to another American friend, Mrs. Walker. As it happens, though, Daisy and her mother are visiting at the same time, and he encounters Daisy there, along with her mother and brother. Randolph makes several impolite remarks about the size of Mrs. Walker's lodgings, and Daisy inquires about his decision to avoid her. He claims that he only just arrived, and she acts disappointed. Winterbourne asks about Mrs. Miller's health, and she speaks at length about her ailments and about her doctor in Schenectady. Randolph complains about Europe in general, and he mentions that he enjoyed the ship on the way to Europe. Mrs. Miller brags a little about how successfully Daisy has navigated Roman society, and how many acquaintances she has made.
Daisy breaks off her conversation with Mrs. Walker to talk to Winterbourne, and she playfully reminds him of how rude he was at Vevey by not staying when she asked him. She then tells Mrs. Walker that she will be attending her party, but that she would like to bring a friend, Mr. Giovanelli. She says that Giovanelli is the handsomest man she knows, except for Winterbourne (though perhaps she only says this because he is standing next to her). She then declares that she is going to take a walk in a nearby park. Mrs. Walker objects, saying that she will catch "the fever," or malaria. She admits that she is going to meet someone, and her mother says that it will be Giovanelli. To quiet the protests of her mother and Mrs. Walker, she suggests that Winterbourne accompany her, which he does.
On the walk, Daisy asks again about his hesitation to visit her. She talks for a moment about the diversity of society at Rome, and about her family's rooms. She makes a disparaging remark about the small size of Mrs. Walker's rooms, mentioning that there will be much conversation there-perhaps because people will be close together and will not be able to hide. Daisy begins to wonder whether Giovanelli has kept their appointment, and Winterbourne says that he won't help her find him. Daisy says then she will look for Giovanelli by herself. Winterbourne says that he doesn't intend to leave her. She becomes quiet for a moment and tells Winterbourne that she has never allowed a gentleman to interfere with her wishes. Winterbourne remarks that perhaps she might allow the "right one" to dictate to her. They spot Giovanelli, and Daisy asks Winterbourne if he thinks Giovanelli is the "right one." He says no.
Daisy introduces Winterbourne to Giovanelli, and Winterbourne notices that Giovanelli is quite good-looking and takes Winterbourne's presence as a matter of course, but that he seems quite ungentlemanly and also cunning. Winterbourne muses further on the implications of Daisy's relations with this "spurious gentleman," and he wonders if Daisy can really be a "nice girl" if she is so intimate with this man. He wishes that she were more obviously one way or the other, though, and he finds himself again wondering about the strange mixture of audacity and innocence that she represents.
Mrs. Walker soon pulls up in her carriage and beckons to Winterbourne. He goes to her, and Mrs. Walker says that she must stop Daisy from walking around the park with Giovanelli and Winterbourne. Winterbourne fetches Daisy and Giovanelli to Mrs. Walker, who asks Daisy to join her for a ride. Daisy says that she would rather continue her stroll. She reminds Mrs. Walker that she is old enough to make up her own mind. Mrs. Walker points out that she is being talked about. Daisy continues to refuse, and Mrs. Walker asks if Daisy wants to be considered reckless. Daisy appeals to Mr. Winterbourne for his opinion. He pauses, but he agrees with Mrs. Walker that Daisy should get in the carriage. Daisy laughs, says that she must be improper, then, and that they must give her up. She returns to walking with Mr. Giovanelli. Mrs. Walker tells Winterbourne that he must join her, and he takes his leave of Daisy and Giovanelli and joins Mrs. Walker.
Mrs. Walker vents her frustration with Daisy to Winterbourne, talking about the untoward things that Daisy does, including late visits from gentlemen, sitting in dark corners with strange Italian men, and so on. She says that the servants at the hotel she stays at make fun of her. Winterbourne replies that both he and Mrs. Walker have been living too long in Geneva, with its conservative society. Mrs. Walker's reply is to ask Winterbourne to stop seeing her. He replies that he can't give her up because he likes her too much. Mrs. Walker offers to drop Winterbourne so that he can rejoin Daisy and Giovanelli. He agrees, and he quickly finds them in the park. He is able to watch them from a distance, and he notices what looks like Giovanelli using Daisy's parasol to screen them while he kisses her. Winterbourne turns and begins walking toward his aunt's residence.
This chapter is a stark contrast with the previous chapter. Daisy's decline into scandal seems almost complete. Although her behavior doesn't seem as shocking to a modern reader as it must have in 1878, the reactions of the characters suggest the degree to which Daisy is challenging the norms of feminine behavior. Moreover, the threat of "Roman fever" or malaria was still quite real in that period. It was thought that being out at night increased the risk of contracting the disease (which is partly true, since the disease is mostly spread through mosquitoes). Mrs. Walker introduces the idea of fever in this chapter, and it will become important again later. The threat of fever is here a tool that Mrs. Walker tries to use to keep Daisy out of the park.
The observation that Winterbourne makes in the previous section about Daisy being unprotected turns out to be more serious when she is in a large city with considerable "society"-or social circles in which the wealthy circulate and visit. Winterbourne suddenly becomes more interested in Mrs. Miller, and more frustrated with her failure to intervene with her daughter. But Winterbourne's fascination with Daisy continues mostly because he can't decide if she is a good but ignorant person, or a cunning and bad person. It helps that she is "strikingly pretty," of course. This concern with the kind of person she is seems to contradict the concern with her mother's ability to restrain her. On the one hand, Winterbourne is interested in the decisions that Daisy makes on her own. On the other, Winterbourne expects that Roman society might take advantage of her and that she needs to be protected from predators.
The entrance of Giovanelli, who appears to be one of Mrs. Costello's "fortune hunters," upsets Winterbourne's desire to be alone with Daisy, and he therefore attacks and makes disparaging comments about the Italian. It seems easy to question Winterbourne's characterizations of Giovanelli and his speeches. But even Daisy's praise of Giovanelli's appearance and his cleverness seems hollow.