Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. Give your interpretation of Strether’s decision to return home at the end of the novel. Does it fit his character?
2. What is the significance of the structure of The Ambassadors?
3. Compare the ambassadorial style of Strether to that of Sarah Pocock. How is one a more effective ambassador than the other?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Compare and contrast the ways in which the three American men—Strether, Waymarsh, and Jim Pocock—are affected by their respective times in Paris.
2. In what ways does Strether change throughout the course of the novel? In what ways does he remain static?
3. At the end of The Ambassadors is Madame de Vionnet a tragic character or a vanquished villain?
4. Discuss the silent climax in the penultimate book of the novel (Book Eleventh). Is it an effective narrative technique? Why or why not?
5. Discuss the effect of James’s unique narrative technique on the tone or mood of the novel. How does he establish Strether as the novel’s center of consciousness without using a first-person voice?
6. Compare and contrast the characters of Miss Gostrey and Madame de Vionnet. In what ways are they similar, and in what ways are they different?
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!