“Roman Fever,” a short story written by Edith Wharton and first published in 1934, expresses deception, secrecy, resentment feelings, and betrayal. The reason is that the story describes two women who blame each other as sources of their unhappiness for failure to achieve their life goals. The story arouses complex feelings in the readers because the two characters, Alicia Slade and Grace Ansley, get more irritated by each other’s presence. Initially, Alicia enjoys Rome’s welcoming environment and is unhesitant to speak about her youthful behavior (Wharton, 1997). However, it is surprising to realize that she feels insecure about Barbara, Grace’s daughter. The reason is that Grace was fond of Delphin Slade, Alicia’s husband, in the past. As a result, the story changes from romantic and becomes a complicated one filled with bitterness and deceit.
Although the friendship between Grace and Alicia is dominant in the story, it is evident that they are both keeping secrets that become eventually uncovered. Alicia might be thinking that another secrecy cycle is being established between Barbara and her daughter, which makes her restless. Therefore, she wants to reveal her hidden information and see its adverse effects on Grace and her daughter (Wharton, 1997). However, the expected relief and triumph does not happen because these women’s bond becomes more depressing after the confrontation. Both parties have watched each other with jealousy throughout their lives, with either person having the hope of taking advantage of the other. As a result, their memories bring insecurity when they meet again where the infamous event happened. Eventually, the unexpected happens because Grace and Alicia experience significant shock after revealing their secrets to one another. The irony is presented at the end of the story because Barbara is Grace’s and Delphin’s daughter, which proves that she is the opposite of what Alicia thought of her.
Wharton, E. (1997). Roman fever and other stories. Simon and Schuster.