Summary and Analysis
For the next two days, Winterborne calls on the Millers but does not find them at home. The third day was Mrs. Walker's party, which Winterborne attended. Mrs. Miller arrived by herself and told Mrs. Walker that she left Daisy alone with Mr. Giovanelli. Daisy had pushed Mrs. Miller out the door because she wanted to practice some singing with her new friend. Mrs. Walker is shocked and feels Daisy is intentionally being improper.
At eleven, Daisy comes bustling in with Mr. Giovanelli and gaily chats with everyone. With charming vivacity she tells Mrs. Walker that Mr. Giovanelli sings quite well. During the party, her companion conducts himself according to all the proper forms of behavior, while Daisy gaily chats with everyone. When she approaches Winterborne, she mentions how strange Mrs. Walker's behavior was the day before. Daisy thinks it would have been highly improper to desert Mr. Giovanelli. Winterborne explains that it was wrong for Mr. Giovanelli to ask her to walk because he "would never have proposed to a young lady of this country to walk about the streets with him." Daisy's response is that she is glad she is not a young lady of this country, for they must have a bad time of it. Winterborne tells her that her "habits are those of a flirt" and Daisy explains that all "nice girls are flirts." But she doesn't like to flirt with Winterborne because he is so stiff.
Winterborne continues to explain that Daisy's actions in public are being talked about and her reputation is in danger. Daisy responds by saying that at least Mr. Giovanelli doesn't say such unpleasant things to her. The gentleman in question arrives and offers Daisy some tea, which she accepts, observing that she prefers weak tea to good advice.
When Daisy goes to bid her hostess goodnight, Mrs. Walker intentionally turns her back and leaves Daisy "to depart with what grace she might." Winterborne observes the entire scene and sees Daisy turn "very pale." When Winterborne tells Mrs. Walker how cruel it was, she responds that Daisy will never again enter her drawing room.
After this, Winterborne often calls at the Millers and always finds Mr. Giovanelli there. Daisy is never upset and can converse as brightly with two men as with one. Winterborne is convinced from these visits that Daisy is very much interested in her Italian friend.
With his aunt, Winterborne admits that Daisy's actions are strange, since the young lady apparently does not want to marry and he cannot believe that Mr. Giovanelli expects it. Furthermore, Winterborne has made inquiries about "the little Italian," and discovered him to be an undistinguished lawyer.
Constantly hearing more about Daisy's many indiscretions, Winterborne decides to try approaching Mrs. Miller. Hearing one day that Daisy is riding through town alone with Mr. Giovanelli, he goes to visit Mrs. Miller. But the mother is so unconcerned that he considered his attempt futile.
Some days later, Winterborne meets Daisy and her companion in the Palace of the Caesars. Daisy thinks Winterborne is annoyed at her because she goes around so much with Mr. Giovanelli. He explains that he is not as annoyed as others are and that the others will show it by being disagreeable. She wonders why Winterborne allows people to be unkind to her. He says that he has tried to defend her by telling everyone that Daisy's mother considers her to be engaged. At first Daisy declares that she is engaged and immediately says that she is not. She then leaves with her companion.
A week later, Winterborne is returning from a party and decides to stroll into the Colosseum to see it in the moonlight. As he draws near, he hears voices, one of which he recognizes as belonging to Miss Daisy Miller. He stops and observes her and Mr. Giovanelli. Suddenly, he realizes that Daisy is "a young lady whom a gentleman need no longer be at pains to respect." As he is leaving, he hears Daisy cry out that Mr. Winterborne is cutting her.
Winterborne goes to her and reminds her of the danger of the Roman fever. He then wonders why Mr. Giovanelli countenanced such an imprudent action. The Italian explains that he told Miss Miller it would be an indiscretion, but she insisted upon seeing the Colosseum by moonlight. Winterborne advises them to leave immediately.
As Giovanelli goes for the carriage, Daisy asks Winterborne if he still thinks of her as engaged. He tells her "it makes very little difference whether" she is engaged or not. As Daisy leaves, she seems changed and says that she does not care whether she catches the fever or not.
A few days later Winterborne hears that Daisy is sick. He goes to call at the hotel and learns that Miss Miller is seriously ill. The mother comes to him and gives him a message from Daisy. He hears that when she gained consciousness, she wanted her mother to be sure and tell Mr. Winterborne that she was not engaged. She also asked him to remember their visit to the castle in Switzerland.
A week after this, Daisy dies. At the funeral, Winterborne meets Mr. Giovanelli, who speaks of Daisy in the best terms and concludes by saying she was the most innocent person. He admits that she would have never married him, but he still admired her tremendously.
The following summer when he is visiting his aunt, Winterborne speaks of the injustice he had done to Daisy. He tells Mrs. Costello that Daisy sent him messages from her deathbed that he now understands. She would have appreciated someone's esteem. Winterborne thinks that he has indeed lived "too long in foreign parts."
The entire last section recounts Daisy's rapid decline through showing several more of her indiscretions. We hear immediately that Daisy is alone in the apartment with Mr. Giovanelli and that she sent her mother on ahead so that she could be alone with the man. We do not know Daisy's motivations for this indiscretion, but she is certainly open about it. When she arrives at the party, she innocently tells that she remained alone in order to practice some songs. If Daisy had any concept or thought of impropriety, she would not have been so free to discuss it at the party.
Daisy apparently lives for the worth of the human being and for human relationships. In other words, she thought it would have been more improper for her to desert Mr. Giovanelli than to be seen walking with him. Simply because the ladies of Italy do not walk is no reason for Daisy to be denied this simple pleasure. As she said, she sees no reason why she should change her habits to conform to the ladies of Italy, when their habits deny most of the simple pleasure in life.
Daisy is, however, sensitive to rebuffs from others. When Mrs. Walker turns her back on Daisy, Winterborne notices that the young lady is deeply hurt. She has never been treated so rudely before and is temporarily at a loss of know how to interpret it.
As Winterborne continues to see Daisy, he realizes more and more that she is a person who likes her freedom and who likes to respond to any aspect of life without restrictions. When Winterborne visits the Millers, he is constantly aware of Daisy's "inexhaustible good humour." He knows that she prefers to have a good time to being thought of as absolutely proper. She seems to work always with an inner knowledge that she is innocent and, with innocence, one should not have to worry about one's reputation. As Daisy tells Winterborne, she prefers tea to advice, and would rather be with people who say agreeable things to her than with those who say disagreeable things.
What disappoints Winterborne is the fact that Daisy represents so much that is pretty, innocent, spontaneous, and good, but all of these qualities are being misdirected. So much that is admirable is being made ugly.
Winterborne is, of course, stultified when he attempts to speak with Mrs. Miller. Here is a mother the like of which he has never before encountered. She seems totally indifferent to her daughter's behavior. Consequently, Daisy's actions must be in accord with some new type of American behavior.
Finally, even Winterborne is shocked with Daisy. When he discovers her alone at night with Mr. Giovanelli in the Colosseum, he too admits that she need no longer be treated with respect. But this final indiscretion is paid for severely. Because of this night Daisy contracts the Roman fever and is soon dead. It is as though her final act of imprudence is equated with her death.
It is only after Daisy's death that Winterborne realizes she would have enjoyed someone's esteem. But the person to esteem her would have had to be a person who realized that she was essentially innocent and only searching for some simple but enjoyable experiences in life.
The final emphasis of the story is again on Daisy's innocence. Mr. Giovanelli maintains that she was the most wonderful and innocent person he had ever met. It is an innocence that is American and this same quality when not tempered with the proper forms of behavior will often be interpreted incorrectly. Thus, Winterborne feels that he has lived too long in Europe.