Women In Roman Fever By Edith Wharton

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In “Roman Fever,” by Edith Wharton, the two leading women, Alida Slade and Grace Ansley, are more complex than the story originally leads the reader to believe. Through the use of structure and diction, their personalities are characterized and further developed. Wharton’s use of structure in the excerpt are quite revealing about the two widows. The first two paragraphs are dedicated to Mrs. Slade’s character; they delve into her past, her lifestyle, and her family. Mrs. Ansley, however, is only given one paragraph, which is focused on her thoughts regarding Mrs. Slade, as opposed to her own life. The extent and content of Alida’s description speaks volumes about her personality. Mrs. Slade lived a high class life, and prided herself on being…show more content…
Slade’s life, while her husband was alive, was “exciting and unexpected”—a contrast to her life at the time of the story. She describes “the amusement” of “hurried dashes” and “impromptu meetings” with fondness and longing—her life revolved around being a known wife and excellent hostess. One her husband died, she took an “irremediable” fall from grace. Slade “had fought through [the] agony” of her son’s death and even the thought of him now has “become unbearable”. She now tries to live vicariously through her daughter, Jenny, because her days have become “a dullish business” and “a little boring”. Alida is stuck in the past, reminiscing in the joy of her high-style life and burying her painful losses beneath her hard exterior. Ansley is more delicate and gentle compared to Slade’s boldness. Her thoughts are “slighter… and fainter”, especially in reference to Mrs. Slade. Grace is “less articulate”; however, she chooses her words with more caution than Alida does. Ansley is hesitant with “current words”—she thinks of them as “unheard-of audacities” in fear of using them incorrectly and saying something she does not mean. Her nature becomes more condescending, most notably toward her friend. She hastily adds a compliment about Slade after telling other that Slade is “not as brilliant as she thinks”. This is harsh comment coming from Slade’s supposed friend. It shows that Grace is not nearly as

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