The Ambassadors

by: Henry James

Book Second

Summary Book Second

This book also reveals Strether’s complicated relationships with women. Despite their engagement, the relationship between Strether and Mrs. Newsome comes off as cold, devoid of passion, and baldly economic: Mrs. Newsome is not only Strether’s fiancée but also his employer. He speaks of Mrs. Newsome as an important social figure back in Massachusetts and as an “old friend.” But he speaks of her as coldly and objectively as one might speak of a public figure or a politician, not as one might speak of a betrothed. Even though Strether speaks positively about Mrs. Newsome, she comes off in a very negative light, particularly when compared to young, pert Miss Gostrey. Nevertheless, Strether ultimately leaves Miss Gostrey and returns to Mrs. Newsome in the final book. Throughout The Ambassadors, the manner in which Strether thinks about things and the way he chooses to speak about them often contradict one another. The novel’s meaning resides in what is shown, not in what is said.