Change in Roman Fever by Edith Wharton Essay

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Change in Roman Fever by Edith Wharton Chance (or coincidence) has an ambiguous role in the outcome of different situations; it can work in or against one’s favour. As in real life, chance in literature has considerable influence on the circumstances of the characters and where those circumstances lead. In two particular literary works, Roman Fever and A Small, Good Thing, chance happenings have grave results on the lives of the characters concerned. In Roman Fever, old friends meet by chance and reveal disturbing secrets about the past; while in A Small, Good Thing a boy is injured on his birthday placing his parents in a desperate situation. Although chance generally seems to go unnoticed—a spontaneous purchase of candles,…show more content…
The two old friends had not seen each other in years, but met again in a hotel in Rome where they were both vacationing with their respective daughters. Naturally, it seems, the two daughters develop a friendship. Such occurrences would otherwise be unfathomable if it was not for the precise meaning of chance; the unpredictable element in happenings that cannot be assigned a cause (Hougton Mifflin, 2000). Chance provides an understanding, not an explanation, and, hence, an acceptance of such occurrences. The chance meeting of these two old friends sets the stage for the revelation of secrets that were also influenced by the unexpected. Knowing that Grace had romantic interest in her then fiancé, Mr. Delphin Slade, Alida writes a letter posing as Delphin inviting Grace to meet him after dark in the Coloseum. Alida had simply intended for her dear friend Grace to catch the roman fever and disappear for a few weeks until “[she] was sure of [Delphin],” (Wharton, 91). However, it was also revealed that the unexpected happened and Grace replied to the letter saying she would be there. Thus, Delphin arranged for the meeting to take place. Whether irony or bad luck, Mrs. Slade had blindly provided her fiancé with the opportunity to have an affair, one he gratefully accepted. If Grace had not replied to the letter, if, in fact, Alida had considered the possibility of her
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