9 April 2013
Roman Fever Critique
Edith Wharton writes a brilliant story in “Roman Fever” that does the job of entertaining the reader in such a short amount of time. Published in 1934, Wharton chooses a setting that takes place in Rome in the 1920s. In short, “Roman Fever” tells the tale of two women, Grace Ansley and Alida Slade, who have been acquaintances for many years. After not seeing each other for a number of years, the two meet up on a terrace in Rome on a trip with their daughters. We see very early that the two women are quite envious of one another, Mrs. Slade especially. In a sense, there is a battle of money that occurs. After catching up, Grace Ansley learns that a letter that she received years ago, that she thought the whole time was written by Mrs. Slade’s husband, Delphin, was actually written by Mrs. Slade. It was all done to make Mrs. Ansley jealous. But before the leaving the scene, we learn that Mrs. Ansley is not the one that should be jealous at all. After all, she did indeed have her daughter Barbara with Delphin all along.
In Phillip Devitt’s analysis of the short story, he makes a very good point when he says that Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade have had an everlasting rivalry and it is one that has carried over into the adult years. I agree with this, as the clues in the story definitely point out many key aspects that show that they are really jealous of one another. Like previously stated, this rivalry is especially intense on Mrs. Slade’s part. Even in the younger years, Mrs. Slade shows her jealousy early when she forges the letter to Mrs. Ansley “from her husband” in order to get the two in two different places that night. We see this jealously and hate carry over into later years in the conversation that they have in Rome. Mrs. Slade is very obviously jealous of Mrs. Ansley’s daughter, Barbara, especially in a sense of her assertiveness in terms of being with new men....