Daisy Miller: Novel Summary: Part IV
Winterbourne tries and fails to find Daisy at home. He expects to see her at Mrs. Walker's party, and is surprised to see Mrs. Miller arrive without her daughter. Mrs. Miller says that Daisy stayed behind with Giovanelli, playing and singing at the piano. Mrs. Walker takes this as Daisy's revenge for the scene at the park, and she vows not to speak to Daisy when she comes. But when Daisy arrives, she confronts Mrs. Walker and makes a very public speech about her friend Giovanelli and her wish that he sing for the group. Mrs. Walker makes a very slight acknowledgement of Giovanelli. Giovanelli does sing a song, but Daisy seems uninterested and speaks loudly to others while he sings.
Winterbourne and Daisy begin talking about the incident in the park, and Winterbourne expresses his distaste for Giovanelli's advances. Daisy defends him, and she tries to make his and Mrs. Walker's demands seem illogical and unreasonable. Winterbourne calls her a flirt, and she acknowledges it. He advises her that people don't appreciate flirting in Italy, and she says that she and Giovanelli aren't flirting, they are intimate friends. Winterbourne says something about the two being in love, and Daisy blushes and takes offense. She calls his comment disagreeable. Giovanelli momentarily arrives to take her to get some tea.
Daisy and Giovanelli sit in a window in the next room for the rest of the evening. When they leave, Mrs. Walker deliberately turns her back on Daisy and won't acknowledge her. Daisy is stunned. Mrs. Miller doesn't acknowledge what is happening, and speaks her apologetic departure to Mrs. Walker's back. After they leave, Winterbourne tells Mrs. Walker that she was very cruel, and her only reply is that Daisy will never enter her home again.
After the party, Winterbourne begins making frequent visits to the Miller residence. While they are often not home, on the occasions that he catches Daisy at home he finds Giovanelli also there. Winterbourne remarks that she never seemed affronted at having two gentlemen present instead of one, and that she seems equally willing to chatter in the presence of either or both men. He says that she continues to retain the mixture of "audacity and puerility" that confounded him in the beginning.
Winterbourne points out Daisy and Giovanelli to Mrs. Costello from a distance during a visit to St. Peter's, and she refers to Giovanelli as "that little barber's block." She stares at Giovanelli and conjectures that the courier introduced Daisy to him, and that the courier stands to make a commission from the transaction if Giovanelli wins a marriage. Mrs. Costello tells Winterbourne to expect the announcement of an engagement at any time. While still at St. Peter's, Winterbourne observes that several of Mrs. Costello's friends come to her to gossip about Daisy. He even hears about her and Giovanelli from a fellow tourist. He goes to Mrs. Miller to try to influence her into some kind of outraged response to the relationship, but she makes only a feeble remark about writing her husband a letter about it.
After this, Winterbourne stops seeing Daisy. She seems never to be at home, and she is no longer welcome at the homes of his friends and acquaintances. He still seems unable to decide if she is completely innocent, and unable to notice that she has become a social pariah, yet determined and defiant of social pressure.
Winterbourne encounters Daisy and Giovanelli in another park, and he decides to speak to her about the way that people are talking about her. He says that people think that she spends too much time with Giovanelli, and he hints that people will be willing to show their disapproval if she tries to visit some of her friends. Daisy suggests that he should be willing and able to prevent that kind of response. Winterbourne mentions that her mother seems to think that she is engaged. Daisy agrees, and Winterbourne starts laughing. He asks if Randolph believes it, and Daisy replies that Randolph doesn't believe anything. Then she says that she is engaged, and Winterbourne stops laughing. Then she contradicts herself and says that she is not. Winterbourne departs from them at this point, apparently a little disgusted.
A week later, Winterbourne is walking around Rome at night in the moonlight, and decides, upon passing the Colosseum, to wander in and see it in the moonlight. He passes a waiting cab and thinks nothing of it. He enters and remarks on the famous atmosphere (a "villainous miasma"), and is about to leave when he notices someone in the middle. He approaches, and he hears the familiar voice of Daisy.
In those circumstances, which he considers to be unequivocal, Winterbourne feels a sense of relief at discovering that Daisy is really not the kind of woman that a gentleman needs to be concerned about. He is about to walk out when Daisy recognizes him. He turns back to speak to them, and he asks how long they have been there. Daisy responds that they have been there the entire evening. Winterbourne points out the threat of Roman Fever, and he mentions that Giovanelli should have known better. Giovanelli says that he was not worried about himself. Winterbourne agrees that he wasn't, but that he should have been worried about Daisy. He tells them to go home as fast as possible and to take medicine for malaria. Giovanelli runs off to check the carriage, and Winterbourne walks Daisy out. She asks if he believed she was engaged, and he says it doesn't matter. She asks what he believes now, and he angrily responds that he believes it makes very little difference whether she is engaged or not.
While Winterbourne doesn't share this encounter with anyone, the servants talk about it, and soon everyone knows about Daisy's visit to the Colosseum with Giovanelli. Soon after, news spreads that Daisy is very ill. Winterbourne visits her hotel and finds that Mrs. Miller is taking good care of her, but that her condition is serious. Mrs. Miller tells him that Daisy wanted him to know that she was never engaged to Giovanelli. She also mentions that she hasn't seen Giovanelli since Daisy became sick. Mrs. Miller also says that Daisy wanted her mother to ask Winterbourne if he remembered the visit to the castle in Vevey.
A week later, Daisy dies. Winterbourne and several others attend the funeral and burial in the Protestant cemetery. There, Winterbourne sees Giovanelli. He calls Daisy the most beautiful and the most innocent young lady that he ever saw, but confesses that he had no real hope of marriage.
The story ends with Winterbourne returning to Vevey to visit his aunt. They talk about Daisy, and Winterbourne says that he understands Daisy's last message. He says that she was trying to tell him that she would have appreciated his "esteem." Mrs. Costello suggests that he might be hoping that she was saying that she would return it. He also says that he was predisposed to make a mistake about her, and that he had lived abroad too long. But he returns to Geneva and to conflicting rumors of his love affair with "a very clever foreign lady."
This last section shows Daisy breaking loose from the social structure that she seemed to enjoy so much before. Her behavior seems to be completely shocking to everyone except herself and Giovanelli, who seems willing to allow this young woman to behave in a way that he knows people would disapprove of because of his hopes of a brilliant marriage.
In the end, it is odd that Daisy is oblivious to her ostracism, and her response to this revelation from Winterbourne sounds false. This section begins to suggest that Daisy behaves as she does consciously. It is difficult to retain the "nice girl" label when deliberately acting counter to the requirements of polite society. When coupled with her behavior at Mrs. Walker's party, Daisy is clearly not as innocent as Winterbourne sometimes allows himself to think.
This chapter completes Daisy's fall in a rather neat way. Her death eliminates the possibility of other evidence of misbehavior, such as the birth of a child. It also makes it impossible for her to vindicate herself. In the end, the story could be read in two very different ways, just as Daisy herself could be read in two ways. First, a reader could interpret this story as an illustration of the ways in which people of questionable virtue are punished. In this reading, Daisy's disrespect of social customs leads to her death. She failed to respect the reasonable warnings of people like Mrs. Walker, and she succumbed to Roman Fever as a direct result of her behavior. Roman Fever becomes like Divine Justice. Second, a reader could see Daisy's story as the destruction of a liberated woman who was daring enough to believe that she could live with the same freedom as a man. Daisy did nothing that men weren't doing all the time (Winterbourne shows the same desire to see the Colosseum in the moonlight as she does), and the only scandal resulted from the fact that she was a woman. In this reading, Roman Fever becomes a convenient symbol of the conservative backlash against Daisy's lack of inhibitions and her self-confidence.
It might be possible that Daisy really loved Winterbourne, and that she was merely unsure about or friendly with Giovanelli. Her deathbed remarks seem to indicate that she regretted the impression she had made on Winterbourne. What is clear, though, is that though Daisy's death was tragic, it seemed to have no real impact on the social structures that caused it.