Roman Fever Analysis
I am working with Edith Wharton’s short story, “Roman Fever. ” Immediately, we sense the tension between Grace Ansley and Alida Slade. The climax has Just occurred as Mrs. Slade confesses that she is the one who wrote Mrs. Ansley the love letter that, unknown to Mrs. Slade, catalyzed her relationship and therefore her child with Mrs. Slade’s husband. In the provided passage, Mrs. Ansley falls silent, or as
Wharton states, “relapses” back into silence, possibly realizing her own deceit in going to visit a taken man so many years ago. The word “relapse” is important to recognize here, because it could simply mean to go to a less active state or one could choose to see the negative connotation the word can often carry, implying that Mrs. Slade is deteriorating after a time of development. It is important, here, to note that Mrs. Slade is described as “leaning above” Mrs. Ansley, alluding to the way Mrs.
Slade eems to think she is better, or above, than Mrs. Ansley for the way she deceived her by writing the letter. In contrast, right when the reader is convinced that the d©nouement has occurred, Mrs. Ansley shockingly informs Mrs. Slade that her daughter is actually the child of Mrs. Slade’s late husband. There is irony in Mrs. Ansleys daughter, Barbara, being the child of Mrs. Slade’s husband in view of Mrs. Slade earlier raving about Barbara in hopes that her daughter could be more Renker 2 like her.
In the scene, she is standing and Mrs. Slade is sitting, switching the positions of power that we earlier observed. In this passage, the bond between the two women is finally severed. Mrs. Slade’s sense of isolation comes from the realization that now that the lies have dissipated, the women no longer have any connection left. Although Mrs. Ansley has wronged Mrs. Slade by sleeping with her husband a quarter of a century ago, Mrs. Slade realizes that the rendezvous never would have occurred if she hadn’t maliciously written the fake letter.
Throughout the drama, Mrs. Slade goes back and forth between whether she is the monster or whether her friend is. In the line following the passage she declares, mfou think me a monster! ” In contradiction, in the next paragraph she asks, “Wasn’t it she who was the monster? ” As soon as the reader senses remorse, Mrs. Slade denies it with another attack or accusation. Having the story narrated in the third-person omniscient point of view allows the reader to more deeply understand the feelings and thoughts of the two women. If
Wharton did not choose to write the story in this point of view the reader would not knows of the “strange sense of isolation” Mrs. Slade feels. It is also important to recognize the significance of Rome as the setting for the story. Rome is a city of love and romance as well as a city ot ancient destruction directly paralleling the love triangle of Grace Ansley, Delphin Slade and Alida Slade; within their relationship, there was love as well as destruction and ruin. The setting of the Grace and Delphin’s betrayal, the Colosseum, also nods to Rome’s history of ruin.