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romanfever - Jessica Bachand Roman Fever Roman Fever by...

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Jessica Bachand 04/18/08 Roman Fever Roman Fever, by Edith Wharton, is a story of two elderly women who have known each other for their whole lives, more or less. In the story we meet Alida Slade and Grace Ansley who grew up in the time of roman fever, malaria, and cholera (Wolfe 1). Upon reading, we find them reminiscing of these days, at a restaurant overlooking the Colosseum, while their own two daughters run off unchaperoned in a freer world than they experienced. As these women reminisce, it is revealed that there is actually a long hatred between them, and that their relationship, more than anything, is a rivalry, rooting from childhood. As it turns out, they loved the same man when they were young, Mr. Delphin Slade it was, and upon getting engaged, a conniving Alida Slade sent a fake love letter, from Delphin to Grace, requesting a tryst, to find out if Grace was truly in love with Delphin, and hopefully to get Grace sick with roman fever. With Grace being sick, she would be out of Alida’s way, and Alida could be happily married. What Alida did not expect was for Grace to respond. Grace reveals to Alida that she responded to the letter, and that she and Delphin did meet that night. Alida laughs at this; “I oughtn’t to begrudge you, I suppose. At the end of all these years. After all, I had everything; I had him for
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twenty-five years. And you had nothing but the one letter that he didn’t write.” (Arp 362). This is when Grace drops the bomb; “I had Barbara.” Furthermore, in this essay, I will explain the significance of the setting, the differences between the two women, the hatred between them and the great examples of symbolism in the story.
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