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Roman Fever by Edith Wharton - Essay Example

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“Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton Roman Fever is a short story which revolves around the friendship of two women who loved the same man during their youth. Although Alida Slade and Grace Ansley appear to be good friends, the former has always been jealous of the latter…
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Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
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Download file to see previous pages Roman Fever begins with the two women relaxing on the terrace of a restaurant in Rome. Alida and Grace have been friends for about twenty five years, and both had visited Rome during their youth. This is where Wharton introduces the theme of friendship. Both these women have shared a lot, especially before their marriages and during the mourning period of their husbands’ deaths. Moreover, their young daughters have also sparked a friendship similar to the one they had in their youth. Wharton also shows the different phases their friendship goes through, as well as what they signify. For instance, after reading the part where Alida thinks negatively about Grace, one gets to know that their friendship is not true. Another theme instilled into Roman Fever is rivalry. Although Alida and Grace had been very close friends in the beginning, their love for the same man causes a strain in their friendship and causes them to become secret rivals. However, they do not express it outwardly until the end of the story. Wharton shows this rivalry by letting the readers see Alida’s negative thoughts against Grace and her daughter: Alida thinks that Grace’s daughter is more likely to get a better match than her own daughter, and that Grace did not face as many difficulties as she did in being a widow. Furthermore, she reveals her jealousy externally by telling Grace the truth behind Delphin’s (the man they both loved) letter. Even Grace finally expresses contention when she reveals in the end that the real father of her daughter was Delphin himself. Another theme found in this short story is love and passion, which is set up in the relationship, or rather ‘love triangle’, between Alida, Delphin, and Grace. Both the women had fallen in love with Delphin, but Alida’s love for him drove her to such extremes that she even schemed against her best friend. On the other hand, her plan backfires when she discovers that, despite the obstacle she placed in Grace’s way, Grace and Delphin do unite secretly. This proves that the love and passion between Delphin and Grace was more than that between him and Alida. In addition, the sorrow and hurt expressed by Grace on discovering that Delphin never wrote her a letter proves that she still loves him. Besides themes, irony and imagery are used by Wharton to add more meaning to Roman Fever. One cannot help but notice the irony in the circumstances between Alida and Grace. Grace appears to be very reserved and incapable of passion, yet she continues to love Delphin for twenty five years after only one rendezvous. Moreover, even though Alida schemes to drive Grace and Delphin apart, her plot happens to give the opposite result. The image of Grace moving “ahead of Mrs. Slade toward the stairway” represents the shift of power at the end of the story. Up until that moment, Alida had always been shown as the leading character. However, by revealing her secret, Grace takes on Alida’s role and becomes the more dominant character of the two. Symbolism is also a literary device used by Wharton to make the reader develop better understanding of Roman Fever. ‘Roman fever’ itself symbolizes the passion felt by Delphin and Grace, as well as the jealousy that Alida is gripped with for twenty five years. Roman Fever is a short story about the friendship and rivalry between two women, Alida and Grace, who fell in love ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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