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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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Ambassadors!