Henry James's "Daisy Miller" and "The Beast in the Jungle" are by far the influential tragedies because they talk about common determinations and wasted lives. The plea of each does not lie only in the darkening plot and atmosphere, but in those tiny details James gives us. Forget Daisy's weird little laughs, Forget Marcher's "flinging himself, face down, on May's tomb, "and what do we have left? Daisy Miller would be a plain character against the background of conflicting American and European cultures and "The Beast in the Jungle," a very thorough diary of a completely selfish man who meets his destiny in the end. .
Once we consider the disappointed social desires of Daisy Miller and the miserable, empty life of John Marcher as disasters that we begin to feel for these two stories and learn the obvious depths that make them so touching and sometimes disturbingly, intense. Their awful endings are about the only thing that these two stories have in common. But there is a blunt difference in the way Henry James approaches his story-line and character technique to deliver the stories tragedies. Regardless of these differences, which come mainly from using the different tones of voice in both of the stories, the harshness of the stories of Daisy and Marcher is definitely evident. Edith Wharton suggests an interesting idea as to what makes a tragedy, and it has a lot to do with what we have read. What we know about the events slowly unfold as we read each story, or what the author "allows" us to know, greatly effects the way we feel about the story and its characters; especially what we expect of happening next. The way that James tells us about Daisy Miller's tragic qualities are very subtle; it is at the end that we see the struggle that Daisy Miller faces to be accepted in the European culture.
The story opens with a pleasing description of "the little town of Vevay" and the nicer parts of life in Europe.