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The Ambassadors

Henry James

Character Analysis Little Bilham

Little Bilham is a loyal friend of Chad's, and he assumes significance in the novel because it is he who tells Strether that the relationship between Chad and Madame de Vionnet is virtuous, thus influencing the movement of the story. Strether likes and admires Bilham, and much of the older man's thinking is revealed to the reader through conversations between the two. Strether asks Bilham to help eliminate threats to the relationship between Chad and Madame de Vionnet by courting first Jeanne de Vionnet and then Mamie Pocock. Even though Bilham willingly undertakes these tasks, he is not simply a tool, subject to Strether's wishes; indeed, James has given him a well-drawn position.