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Comparative Analyst of Daisy Miller by Henry James and The Other Two by Edith Wharton - Essay Example

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Daisy Miller" (Henry James) and "The Other Two" (Edith Wharton) – comparison The social purview about the status of women in the patriarchal context began to undergo a change as their role in the labor force became significant. This uprise in realization and rebellion from the women including their consciousness regarding their basic rights have led to certain changes in the social structure and conventions…
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Comparative Analyst of Daisy Miller by Henry James and The Other Two by Edith Wharton
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"Daisy Miller" (Henry James) and "The Other Two" (Edith Wharton) – comparison The social purview about the status of women in the patriarchal context began to undergo a change as their role in the labor force became significant. This uprise in realization and rebellion from the women including their consciousness regarding their basic rights have led to certain changes in the social structure and conventions. Some women belonging to the aristocracy managed to hold the traditions while some were manipulative to make their way in the society. In the cultural context Americans tried to imitate European architecture and urbane styles. Some even preferred to stay in European nations. The literary arena of America was also influenced by that of Europe, focusing more on naturalism and realism (McMichael, Leonard, Fishkin, Bradley, Nelson & Csicsila 4-7). Henry James’ Daisy Miller and Wharton’s ‘The Other Two’ have well represented these two elements by focusing on the conflict/ harmony between social traditions and individual nature of the women protagonists. The novel Daisy Miller and the play, ‘The Other Two’ can be recollected in any time period irrespective of the political, social and economic backdrop. The character of Daisy stands in stark contrast to that of Alice in the second work. Daisy, a young girl dreams of living it big in Rome by falling in love with an Italian Giovanelli, despite the warning of her newly made American friends in Switzerland and. She openly admits her numerous connections with men to Winterbourne without paying heed of what consequences it might have or what impression of her it might produce. He is innocent to not take any heed of social customs despite Mrs. Walker’s alert message – “You are old enough to be more reasonable. You are old enough to be talked about” (James). The fact that she readily agrees to go out with near stranger surprises Winterbourne’s aunt who thinks she is shameless. However, Winterbourne falls in love with her innocence and simplicity apart from her beauty but she does not seem to care much about him apart from knowing the place. The social customs does not allow a young girl to walk alone in the night but Daisy refuses to be dictated by a man and takes her own decisions. It is her simple way of looking at the complex society that renders her the courage to ignore all warnings of her surroundings and most importantly, the social customs. This ignorance leads to her tragic end when she does not take Winterbourne’s warnings about Roman Fever seriously and prefers to stay with Giovanelli at the Colosseum who was driven by wrong intentions from the very beginning. The readers also discover that Daisy neither repents for her actions and nor grieves over her fate which she boldly accepts in the form of death. Unlike Daisy, Alice has three husbands, Mr. Waythorn being the current one who has to bear with the insecurity of finding his wife meeting her ex husbands. Although social customs would raise eyebrows about the idea of marrying a divorced woman, Waythorn had always felt that it was up to the woman to defend her position in the society and Alice, in his opinion has done her part quite well. With time he learns that not only does his wife lie to him but she also makes it seem as if she has been the victim of the past marriages and meeting the polite and caring Mr. Hackett opens Waythorn’s eyes. He also realizes that his wife is as “as easy as an old shoe” (Wharton, 20). This term was more readily applied perhaps for a woman rather than a man in the patriarchal society but the change noticed here is that Waythorn is obliged to meet her husbands and behave politely with them without getting angry or revealing his obsession and possessiveness about his wife publicly. His wife does not take any initiative of meeting her previous husbands but also does not avoid them and towards the end of the story readers find her having tea with all three of her husbands with a smile. Her false abidance by social norms stands in opposition to Daisy’s sheer rejection of the same. Therefore, Daisy, as an individual stands out more transparent and praiseworthy with an individual streak rather than Alice who has to live under the veil of pretense to meet her desire for the company of men. James’ novel was written in the late nineteenth century while the latter was composed in early twentieth century when some women managed to have their say in things. The society in reflected in the play, gives the woman the opportunity to justify her position unlike in case of Daisy where the society would have the final impression about her. There are certain changes in men’s acceptance of women and their lives as the decision of Waythorn reflects. Thus the two works rightly reflects the spirit of literature in terms of realism and naturalism.  Read More
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