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paper - Brooke Galietto English 142 A Personal Perceptions...

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Brooke Galietto October 20, 2011 English 142 A “Personal Perceptions Should Not Deem Judgment” If moral reality is perhaps a collection of a dominant groups perceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral than the minority group may be outside the realm of understanding such a moral code. Daisy Miller and Maggie Johnson are prototypical characters who exemplify the struggle young women of the time period faced in managing people’s perceptions of them. Daisy and Maggie’s lives are both controlled by the perceptions of others. The reader must be wary when being directly fed the biased perceptions and judgments of a single character to avoid the harsh fate faced by Daisy and Maggie. Although Daisy and Maggie come from two very different walks of life, their peers take it upon themselves to pass moral judgment on the young women. Winterbourne and the society women decidedly interpret Daisy’s friendships with other men to be sexual, ultimately condemning her behavior as immoral and promiscuous and therefore they exclude her from their society. However, Henry James subtly adds that Winterbourne is not fit to make such brash judgments. For example, he has affairs with European, older, women. The author writes, “My dear aunt I am not so innocent” said Winterbourne, smiling and curling his moustache”(400). In this sentence, Henry James paints an ugly picture of Winterbourne, insinuating that he is grimy and in context that he is pursuing Daisy for immoral reasons. The narrator explains, “[Winterbourne] had a great relish for feminine beauty, he was addicted to observing and analyzing it”(394). Finally, Henry James suggests that the scenario depicted with Daisy is not something entirely foreign to Winterbourne. Although Daisy is more complex than his other acquaintances, Winterbourne is a womanizer and his initial intentions are not pure.
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Winterbourne’s aunt has a great deal of persuasive power over him, but ultimately Winterbourne has the power in the scene to accept or denounce Daisy’s morality. James purposely gives the power to judge to someone whose personal values and morals are tarnished, suggesting Winterbourne is unreliable and hypocritical. Writing the majority of the story from Winterbourne’s perspective strengthens James’ agenda. James calls the reader to navigate
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