If Madame de Vionnet is the villain of The Ambassadors, Chad Newsome is the novel’s antagonist, or the character who opposes the protagonist, Strether. Though Chad takes no explicit action against Strether, his deception initially allows Strether to mistake Madame de Vionnet for a simple friend and virtuous influence. Had Chad not asked little Bilham to act on his behalf, and had Bilham not lied to Strether about the context of Chad’s relationship, Strether’s relationship with Mrs. Newsome may have remained intact and his future in Woollett secure. However, such events would not have necessarily given the novel a better outcome. Strether actually learns more through Chad’s deceit than he could ever have possibly learned through a successful mission and subsequent marriage to Mrs. Newsome. Had Chad not tricked him, Strether may never have realized his own truth about Europe. Thus, Chad is a complicated antagonist: he has neither a purely evil nor a purely good effect on the outcome of the novel.
More characters from The Ambassadors