Analysis Of Edith Wharton 's ' Roman Fever '

1483 WordsNov 7, 20176 Pages
In Roman Fever, Edith Wharton employs irony to manipulate the reader’s perception of a seemingly innocent conversation between two middle aged women, Alida Slade and Grace Ansley. When reconnecting in Rome, both women reminisce about their past experience there in which secrets first emerged between them. Alida, driven to reconcile the past, attempts to relieve her conscience by confessing that she betrayed and entrapped Grace with a falsified love letter. On the other hand, Grace selectively forgets any semblance of the past and symbolically uses knitting to distract her from the present conversation; but ultimately reveals her affair with Delphin twenty-five years ago, Alida’s then fiancé, and that they conceived a child, Barbara. The…show more content…
In addition to their characterizations, Wharton uses irony in their dialogue to highlight the mistrust in their relationship. When looking out over the terrace, Grace seems unamused by the scene, but when Alida describes it as the “most beautiful view in the world,” she retorts that “it always will be to me.” Although Alida notices the stress on me, she attributes the odd pronunciation to an accident; and misses the blatant irony in her comparison of the strange pronunciation to “the random underlinings of old-fashioned letter-writers.” The misunderstanding in their conversation parallels the sequence of the story as Grace has an extended knowledge of the past, whereas Alida misses the irony of her own letter writing scheme. Expanding the women’s portrayal with their thoughts and descriptions of their subtle yet implicit nuances, Wharton contains the ironic truth of the women’s enduring, but distant relationship. While Alida Slade outwardly forces formality with a retrospective smile, inwardly she views Grace’s “old-fashioned” customs with contempt. However, Grace interjects with stressful murmurs to indicate her discomfort with the conversation. Throughout the story, Grace’s murmurs signify knowledge of a secret past event she does not wish to articulate to Alida and Alida’s smile symbolizes the importance of keeping pleasant appearances, even if they are simple formalities. The relationship between Alida and Grace further
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