Non Dramatic Elements in The Ambassadors

Henry James's The Ambassadors deals with an entirely non-dramatic subjects. One of these non dramatic subjects of the novel in the crisis are male bias. The theme that our prejudice is incoherent is the dominant, non dramatic substance of the novel. Another non dramatic subject of the novel is the admission, on the part of the central intelligence, of the limitations of human perception.

Henry James (1843-1916)

Third important non-dramatic subject of the novel is how Lambert Strether fell victims to his own erotic impulses and stunted emotionality.

 Lambert Strether had been firmly convinced that the relationship between Madame de Vionnet and Chad Newson is 'virtuous attachment'. Influenced by the ideal aspect of the virtuous attachment, Lambert Stretcher began to put Madame de Vionnet on the pedestal. He (Strether) was influenced by the highly idealistic charm and elegance of Madame de Vionnet. Instead, he was also mesmerized by the tantalizing beauty of Parisian life and culture. The aesthetic facet of Parisian life and the highly refined culture in Paris put Strether in an enthralling spell. He spiritually yielded to the ideal charm and uncontaminated beauty of Madame de Vionnet. He instead of persuading Chad Newson to return to America, ironically surrenders to the magnetic charm of the Parisian life. He too decided to stay in Paris. At this moment Lambert Strether admitted that what he has conceived about Chad-Vionnet relationship is true. Furthermore Strether realized that subjectivity is consistent and coherent. The Self is always whole. Strether continued to believe that the truth derived from the mode of perceptivity is always correct. Along with Lambert Strether's growing acquaintance, with Madame de Vionnet and Chad Newsom, Lambert Strether happened to keep his belief in these categories unconsciously: the wholeness of self, the consistency and coherence of subjectivity, the absolute accuracy of perceptivity, and Stability of conception formed through perception.

When Lambert Strether knew about the naked reality regarding to the relationship between Madame de Vionnet and Chad Newsome, his illusion shattered. His former conception about the virtuous relationship between Chad and Vionnet underwent drastic change. Previously, he had held that the attachment between Chad and Madame de Vionnet was virtuous and purely moralistic. When he happened to see them enjoying boating in a village outside Paris, he was shocked. He was profoundly shocked to know the fact that the so-called virtuous attachment between Chad and Madame de Vionnet was an immoral liaison. At this moment Strether happened to distinguish that there is a decided gulf between the appearance and reality. Appearance cannot keep the truth within its territory. The form of appearance cannot accommodate the content of truth. The nature of truth is always beyond the compass of perceptivity. Subjectivity is always incoherent. Madame de Vionnet's real subjectivity and her 'self' were incoherent. Even Strether knew that his subjectivity is incoherent.  No self is whole. The Self is always fragmented. It is an illusion to believe that the self is whole and complete.

Having known that even Parisian life has been suffering from certain limitations, Strether learnt to recognize the limitations of his own self. Hence this novel deals with the non-dramatic subjects like the incoherence of self and subjectivity and crisis in male perceptivity. Apart from this non-dramatic subjects, The Ambassadors deals with the psychoanalytical subjects like erotic impulses. It is said that Lambert Strether fell in an ideal love with Madame de Vionnet when he saw her for the first time in his life. He subjected his erotic impulses to the process of sublimation. But his process of sublimation no longer functioned in a psychologically healthy way. Consequently, he fell victims to his own desublimated erotic impulses. This aspect of the central thematic concern helps the reader to rush to the conclusion that the novel The Ambassadors primarily deals with the non-dramatic subject.

Excluding all these psychoanalytical striking subjects, even the problem of expatriation, which the novel talks extensively throughout the novel is a kind of non-dramatic subjects. Hence, here is every reason to agree with the thesis that The Ambassadors, doubtless, deals with an entirely; non-dramatic subjects.