Strategy in James's The Ambassadors

The title of the novel The Ambassadors has a fundamental role in the plot of the story. The title refers to the game of making plans and policies to impress and to improve some situations. In the novel, there are two major ambassadors, they are Strether and Sarah from Woollett, America. Strether and Sarah are entrusted to convince Chad and make him return from the trap of Paris.

Henry James (1843-1916)

Both ambassadors have to make effective strategy so as to fulfill their duty and please Mrs. Newsome in their ambassadorial mission, Strether fails and Sarah gets success. Strether fails in designing the strategy, he fails to the request of Mrs. Newsome. At first, he tries to show the flaws in Parisian lifestyle and attempts hard to convince Chad to return home, but Chad remains firm in his decision. Here he fails, his strategy fails to persuade Chad.  Strether expects a positive change in Chad. Instead, Chad gets success in bringing Strether in his side of life. As the course of life moves ahead, Strether feels happy and satisfied with the environment of Paris. He was captivated by the beauty and free lifestyle of Paris and changes his own mind. At this point, Chad is convinced to go back to Woollett and takes his responsibility, but surprisingly Strether who has come to take Chad back home is now doing his best to make him feel that life in Woollett is rigid and in Paris it is perfect. But, this time too, Chad is against Strether's will, he decides to go back. Again Strether fails badly. Whatever he wants to do he does not get success due to lack of adequacy in diplomacy in making strategy.

Chad's married sister Sarah is sent as an ambassador as Strether makes delay in returning. She is again assigned to get both Strether and Chad back home. In case of Strether, she is ordered not to force him. She is quite determined and focused on her mission to bring her brother back to Woollett. When she arrives in Paris, she remains untouched by the glamor of Paris. She is so engrossed that she refuses to compromise with the enchanting and eternal beauty of Parisian life. She does not move an inch from her determination. She is strict in nature. So her nature matches with her determination. At last, she wins, she gets victory over Strether to convince her brother Chad. Her diplomacy and strategy is superior.

One of other minor strategies played by the characters are by Madame de Vionnet. She is sure that Chad will return to his own home Woollett one day. She herself cannot go to live with Chad in Woollett. So, she starts a friendly relationship with Strether. Strether commits to this relationship. It is his bad luck to accept the friendship of Madame de Vionnet. Madame de Vionnet is so tricky that the moment she knows the fact that Chad will leave her alone then she turns to Strether. In this sense, her strategy works for some time though. Madame de Vionnet tries her charm upon Sarah too, but this time she fails. It is an irony that the countess Madame de Vionnet loses with Sarah in terms of strategy.

Another strategy is played by Mrs. Newsome. She lives in Woollett, America and her son Chad is in Paris. When Chad refuses to come back home and take the responsibility of a businessman, she sends Strether as an ambassador. When Strether fails in his mission, she sends her daughter along with her son in law. She does not go herself for she fears that the corrupting effects of Paris may ruin her. She does not have faith in herself. It is her strategy to save her vulnerability. At last, she gets what she desires for.