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The Roman Fever - Essay Example

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The Roman Fever In 1934, American writer Edith Wharton published a short story entitled, The Roman Fever in Liberty magazine. It was a critical success mainly due to the simplicity and ingenuity by which the themes were explored and depicted in the narrative…
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The Roman Fever
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"The Roman Fever"

Download file to see previous pages Background Essentially, the story was about the friendship of two women, Grace Ansley and Alida Slade. They were vacationing in Rome with their daughters, Barbara Ansley and Jenny Slade. This was the second time that the two elderly women had been to the city. They had previously visited Rome and the present travel provided a conducive for the two protagonists to reflect on their lives. A good part of it came as offshoot of what transpired in Rome many years ago. As they looked back on the past, a secret was revealed by Mrs. Slade amidst the long rivalry that hounded their friendship through the years. There was some sort of love triangle between Grace, Alida and her husband Delphin Slade in the past. It turned out that Mrs. Slade wrote a fake letter to Mrs. Ansley that supposedly came from Delphin Slade. The letter invited Grace to a tryst in the Coliseum in an effort to break her heart and cease getting in the way between Alida and Delphin as a consequence. It turned out that the tryst actually transpired with Grace and Delphin meeting each other after the former revealed that she answered the letter and Delphin actually came. Strong Competing Women The story was a convoluted affair, but typical of the experience of the women of the American upper class during the 1930s. What makes this theme remarkable is that the story was controlled throughout by female protagonists, which depicted strong female roles. Certainly, the story was dominated by the two women and, then, there were their daughters, playing minor parts. The only physically present male in the narrative was the Italian waiter and some unseen Italian suitors who, from the statements of the protagonists, can be considered as objects of the predatory desires of their children. When the husbands were finally mentioned, they were referred to in passive roles or as tools in making a make a point, introducing an argument, and issue or a narration of experience. Mr. Horace Ansley was brought up by the two women only to be referred to as dull, spineless, boring and insufferably passive character – “just a duplicate of his wife” (12). It was obvious that his wife dominated him throughout their married life. Meanwhile, Delphin Slade was only introduced when the letter was brought up. Here, he was a facilitator or a device, if you may, in order for the desired reaction in the case of the letter to be effective. They are not unlike the Italian lovers previously mentioned. They were objects of the female rivalry and female negotiations as they navigated their relationships and pursued their objectives. They were there for a reason and such reason was determined by the women who need their respective resources and ammunition to outdo each other. There are some subtle hints provided by Wharton to support the above point of view. Delphin closely resembles the word "delphic" which is synonymous to ambiguousness and obscurity. The name Delphin may also be related to the Roman Apollo, who was the god of light and represents manly beauty. So Delphin was like the trophy - the object - by which Grace and Alida and their mothers, before them, worked hard to achieve. From the very first words of the story, this tone was already established: “the women, ladies of ripe but well-cared for middle age moved across the lofty terrace of the Roman restaurant... looked first at each other, and then down on the outspread glories of the Palatine... with the same expression of vague but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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