How a common motive influences so many people
When traveling for extended periods of time, the idea of getting away from everyday rituals and behaviors becomes minimalized. Unlike a quick trip, where one can abandon their home life for a short period of time, living in a new country for longer than a mere vacation loses the effect of getting away, and the everyday stresses and problems from home become more prevalent. One of these is the quest of love. In Henry James’ Daisy Miller, and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, both sets of main characters go on searches for love.
Daisy Miller, the sweet, innocent girl, who comes across as the more scandalous type, is only a young woman plagued by love on a family trip throughout Europe. Her constant trickery aimed towards Winterbourne underlies her actual feelings for him, and in doing this, she flirts with other men and always keeps Winterbourne on edge. Turning to several scenes in the novella, we see how she expresses her fondness towards Winterbourne.
Budding their quasi relationship is their first adventure at Chillon Castle, where the two fascinate themselves with each other’s company, until Winterbourne tells Daisy that he has to leave for Geneva in a few days’ time. Upon hearing this, she calls him horrid and closes herself off from him for the rest of the trip, turning from incredibly chattery to more reserved and affected. From the start, we see her curiosity for Winterbourne, and when he breaks the news about his soon-to-be departure, we also see Daisy’s letdown.
After his return, Daisy seeks to make Winterbourne jealous, and to do so, she begins courting with a gentleman named Mr. Giovanelli. Daisy makes her intentions obvious about being viewed in public with Giovanelli, however, she still clearly shows an interest and desire for Winterbourne. Daisy was meeting Giovanelli at a garden, so when asked at a luncheon how she was planning on arriving there, she cried, “the Pincio is only a hundred yards distant, and if Mr. Winterbourne were as polite as he pretends he would offer to walk with me!” (38). Winterbourne agrees to take her, and along the way, she whines to him because he didn’t visit her the moment he returned from Geneva. Winterbourne tries to explain that she is making up things in her head, but Daisy still doesn’t believe him. The fact that she cared so much about whether or not he went out of his way to see her shows how much Winterbourne meant to her and this also explains her behavior at the castle in Chillon; once Winterbourne told her that he was heading off for Geneva, she began to sulk because she felt he was abandoning her and she was disappointed that he wouldn’t be staying.
Viewing the plot from Winterbourne’s perspective, we see that the feelings of attraction are mutual. When he found out that Daisy would be accompanying Giovanelli to the Pincio Gardens, “his attention quickened” (37) from simply listening to the conversation. Also, when talking to Daisy about her flirtatious nature at Mrs. Walker’s party, he tells her that she “is a very nice girl,” (49) but he only wants her to flirt with him and him only.
A few days later, as Winterbourne strolls through the Palace of the Caesars, he spots Daisy with Giovanelli. When Winterbourne first glanced at her, “it seemed to him also that Daisy had never looked so pretty; but this had been an observation of his whenever he met her” (57). This constant reminder of her beauty every time he lays eyes on her adds to the proof that he is falling for her.
There runs the question of whether Daisy is actually engaged to Giovanelli, and when Winterbourne asks her what the truth is, her response changes each time. At first, she tells him that she is engaged, but she fears he does not believe her, so she responds with, “you don’t believe it…well then- I am not!” (58), thus changing her answer from trying to appear taken and not wanting Winterbourne, to needing and opening herself up to him.
The final time that Winterbourne sees Daisy is when he comes across her and Giovanelli in the Colosseum. He sees them talking in the middle of the night and when he finds out they’ve been there all night, he begins to worry; he fears she will succumb to the Roman fever, which can be caught by staying out late at the Colosseum. After urging them to go back home, he walks Daisy to the carriage, and she asks whether he believed she was engaged the other day. Winterbourne responds, saying, “I believe that it makes very little difference whether you are engaged or not” (61). He has finally realized that nothing can come out of their being together. We know Daisy is hurt after she hears this.
Daisy falls ill days later and Winterbourne comes almost daily to ask how she is doing. He knows that being with Daisy won’t work out, however, he still loves her. Mrs. Miller tells him that Daisy wanted her to tell him “that she never was engaged to that handsome Italian” and asked if he remembered the time they “went to that castle, in Switzerland” (62-63). She dies “the most innocent girl,” despite her flirtatious nature (63). Daisy truly cared about Winterbourne’s opinions of her, and though she tried to hide them, it’s obvious to the reader that her feelings were legitimate.
Jake and Brett’s experiences in geographical places parallel those of Daisy and Winterbourne. Ex-lovers, the two still share passionate feelings for each other, however, they are unable to make things work. Throughout the novel, Brett shares intimacy with four men, all while searching for her life partner.
In a taxi, Jake and Brett kiss. They long to be back together, but Brett won’t commit to him because of his injury from the war. Later that night, however, she arrives at Jake’s apartment, wanting to come in and causing a raucous. She claims, “Just wanted to see you. Damned silly idea” (41) and is being playful and trying to kiss him, even though she has a Greek man waiting for her downstairs. These actions of returning to Jake occur over and over again during the course of the story.
After venturing to Spain, Jake learns that Brett will be arriving there soon, so he decides to cut fishing, his favorite pastime, short, in order to prepare for her arrival.
At a restaurant in Pamplona after Brett’s arrival, Brett begs Jake to introduce her to Romero, the matador, who she’s taken an interest in. Even though he is still in love with her, Jake agrees and follows through. Afterwards, in the park, Brett tells Jake, “I’m a goner. I’m mad about the Romero boy. I’m in love with him I think” (187).
They part ways, and Jake decides to spend a few days in San Sebastian while Brett stays in Madrid with Romero. Relaxing at the beach, Jake receives a telegram during his stay reading: “Could you come Hotel Montana Madrid Am rather in trouble” (242). Knowing that Brett needs help, he ends his vacation right away and takes the first train to Madrid.
In Madrid, we learn that Brett has let Romero go, adding to the list of men unqualified for her. Though she seems picky, she ultimately is trying to find love. Her first husband died and she has never been able to fully get over him. Because of this, she has never been capable of finding one man and being content with him; her search for perfection has led her to keep on looking.
As if coming full circle, the couple shares a final moment together in a cab after leaving the hotel. Driving through Madrid, we see that despite all the men Brett has been interested in, and all the times Jake has changed his plans to accommodate her, the two share a common love for each other. Brett says, “Oh Jake… we could have had such a damned good time together” (251), finally showing her reciprocated feelings for him.
In each place, Jake and Winterbourne endured similar emotions and treatment. Jake’s actions mirror those of Winterbourne, but to a more higher extreme. While we can assume that Winterbourne loved Daisy, the extent to which Jake loved Brett was so high that it caused him to act in ways he would never have originally done and abandon his values and favorite pastimes. Unlike Winterbourne, Jake is unable to get himself to take charge of his life and realize that by hanging out with Brett, he is merely teasing himself; he never comes to terms that he must get over her.
It is clear that, while in each place abroad, we still face common problems we sometimes seek to get away from. In this case, the search for love, ultimately influenced many of the decisions the characters made in these stories.