Lambert Strether, the chief ambassador of Mrs. Newsome, his betrothed. Strether is sent to summon Mrs. Newsome’s son Chad back from Paris to the family business in Wollett, Massachusetts. The fifty-five-year-old editor of a review, Strether has all the tact and diplomacy necessary to accomplish his task, but his sensitivity will not allow him either to complete it or to take advantage of Chad’s situation to gain his own ends. He sees Chad as immeasurably better off in Paris and himself as somehow changed and strengthened by his sojourn abroad, though he will not allow himself to stay in Europe after having failed his benefactress. His heady experiences renew his earlier impressions, and he forms friendships, visits cathedrals, and lives easily for the first time since his wife died while bearing their son, also dead. His delicacy—in approaching young Newsome and his mistress, Mme. de Vionnet; in handling Chadwick’s sister, brother-in-law, and childhood sweetheart, and in breaking off from Maria Gostrey, who loves him—is the more remarkable when one considers that his own hopes of a rich marriage and great influence have been shattered by his actions.
Chadwick (Chad) Newsome
Chadwick (Chad) Newsome, the handsome, twenty-eight-year-old successor to a family business and the heir to a modest income from another source. Candid and open-hearted, the graying young man has been so improved by his years in Europe, largely under the tutelage of Mme de Vionnet, that no thought of his return can really be habored by anyone who has seen him. Although he himself is willing to return for a visit and to consider taking over the advertising and sales promotion of the business, his proposed marriage to Mamie Pocock is unthinkable. His greatest triumph comes as the result of his mannerly presentation of his sister’s group of ambassadors to his Parisian friends, while his saddest duty is to allow his good friend Lambert Strether to return to face the consequences of a diplomatic failure.
Maria Gostrey, a self-styled...
(The entire section is 870 words.)