Themes in The Ambassadors

Lambert Strether, un hombre de mediana edad, sin mucha experiencia, de Woollett Massachusetts, acuerda asumir la misión propuesta por su rica novia: ir a Paris a rescatar al hijo de su novia de las garras de una mujer perversa. Esta es la idea que desarrolla Henry James en The Ambassadors…
Temas principales

Henry James got the central idea for The Ambassadors from an anecdote about his friend and fellow-novelist William Dean Howells, who, whilst visiting his son in Paris, was so impressed with the amenities of European culture that he wondered aloud if life hadn't passed him by.

The theme of liberation from a cramped, almost starved, emotional life into a more generous and gracious existence plays throughout The Ambassadors, yet it is noteworthy that James does not naïvely portray Paris as a faultless paradise for culturally stunted Americans. Strether learns about the reverse side of the European coin when he sees how desperately Marie fears losing Chad, after all she has done for him. The final lesson of Strether's European experience is to distrust preconceived notions and perceptions from anyone, anywhere, but to rely upon his own observation and judgment.

Mediation/Intermediation: a major theme of the novel involves Strether's position as an ambassador. Strether, when giving his final account to Maria Gostrey, justifies his decisions by connecting his intermediary position to his concerns about gaining experience (and pleasure) whilst working in behalf of others. This conflict between personal desire and duty is important to consider when thinking about Strether's psychology.
Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir
Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir
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The Belle Époque was dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It was a period characterized by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, apex of colonial empires and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. In the climate of the period, especially in Paris, the arts flourished.
The Casino de Paris opened in 1890.
The Eiffel Tower, built to serve as the grand entrance to the 1889 World's Fair held in Paris, became the accustomed symbol of the city. Paris hosted another successful World's Fair in 1900, the Exposition Universelle (1900).
Haute couture was invented in Paris, the center of the Belle Époque, where fashion began to move in a yearly cycle. In Paris, restaurants such as Maxim's Paris achieved a new splendor and cachet as places for the rich to parade.
French cuisine continued to climb in the esteem of European gourmets during the Belle Époque. The head chef and co-owner of the Ritz, Auguste Escoffier, was the pre-eminent French chef during the Belle Époque. Champagne was perfected during the Belle Époque.
Large public buildings such as the Opéra Garnier devoted enormous spaces to interior designs.

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