OF THE BABY NAME DAISY
Norman May is a kind and intelligent young man in Charlotte Mary Yonge’s 1856 novel, The Daisy Chain, the story of a large middle-class family in England and their various trials and accomplishments. Of both, there are many. At the outset, Mother May is killed and daughter Margaret crippled in a carriage accident, while Father May struggles to keep up alone with the rest of the family – eleven children! Norman is actually probably in the Mensa class, but like so many of his Victorian brothers, he suffers from depression and self-doubt. In the final analysis, Norman becomes a clergyman – an excellent choice at a time when people were actively striving to discipline their baser natures into choosing the higher path of divinity. At least, we hope it cheered him up a little.
Daisy Buchanan is one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic, The Great Gatsby. She is a beautiful, wealthy young socialite wife and (indifferent) mother, who is the object of Gatsby’s obsessive, long time love. She is married to an unfaithful husband, and the attentions of Gatsby are too attractive to spurn altogether. Far from being the paragon of beauty and virtue that Gatsby has idolized, she is actually selfish, cynical and careless. Ultimately she opts for staying with her rich husband over throwing in her lot with the socially inferior Gatsby. In a last act of betrayal, which leads to Gatsby’s death, she allows him to take the blame for the death of her husband’s mistress, who was hit while Daisy was driving the car. Nonetheless, she is eternally intriguing, holding her own as a strong, unforgettable woman in one of America’s top 100 novels.
Daisy Miller is the title character of Henry Miller’s novella of the same name, published in book form in 1879. She is a beautiful young American girl, full of life and high spirits, if somewhat naïve and shallow, who travels to Europe and falls in with a questionable element of society. She is pursued by a fellow American abroad, Frederick Winterbourne, who, while attracted to her, is rather shocked by her unconventional behavior and quest for entertainment. Daisy and Winterbourne meet again later in Rome, where she spends much time in the company of the disreputable Giovanelli. He chides her, to no avail…days later, she is dead of malaria as a direct result of her association with Giovanelli. Ah, the wages of sin! Poor Daisy remains an enigma to the end – is she as innocent as she protests? Is she only a naïve American judged by the jaded eyes of Europeans? Or did she in her short life manage to cast off the manacles of a stilted society and actually have some fun? You be the twenty-first century judge.