Henry James" "Daisy Miller: A Study" focuses on the complexity and ambiguity of the protagonist, Daisy. The "study" of Daisy Miller is composed of opposing positions and various viewpoints held by Daisy's acquaintances, namely Mr. Winterbourne. It is through these acquaintances, not through Daisy herself, that the reader is exposed to Daisy's character. The "study" therefore is, in a sense, the active participation of the reader to learn indirectly the character of Daisy Miller through the opinions of others who observe her within the plot. .
The story centers itself in the nineteenth century Europe, specifically Rome, Italy, where many Americans resided. There they formed an elite social network, characterized by conservative and snobbish manners that could make them both intimidating and ignorant of others" feelings. Daisy's energetic personality was exclusive to her new surroundings, where apparently "Esteem wasn't too much to ask, but to the snobbish circle of transplanted Americans living in Europe, it was too much to give" (Liggera 141). Against this background, Daisy, accompanied by her mother and younger brother who have come to Europe on vacation, stand out as typical "nouveaux riches" Americans. By way of others" observations, such as Mrs. Costello's, the Millers are understood as being limply mannered with a democratic regard as well as disregard for class. .
Through the character of Daisy, James exposes the problem of excessive innocence in uncultivated Americans, where a collapse in the face of their more accomplished peers seems predictable. As a mass of contradictions, Daisy Miller is American innocence personified. She is childlike, spontaneous, and attractive which ultimately proves lethal, for her irresponsible behavior is justified by her drive for individualism and the liberty to follow her impulses. Her looser modes of custom and a constant need for male attention appear to be the result of parental neglect; her mother is oblivious and her father is absent.