Romantic Rivalry Between Women Backfires

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Romantic Rivalry Between Women Backfires Romantic rivalries can begin among girls in junior high or high school, but they do not imagine the possibility of long-term consequences. In her short story, “Roman Fever,” published in 1934, Edith Wharton tells the story of two American women, Grace Ansley and Alida Slade, who have been friends since they were children, but who were also rivals for the same man, now married to Alida Slade. Although friends, the two women engaged in subterfuge in pursuing Delphin Slade when they were in Rome twenty-five years ago. Meeting by chance in Rome now with grown girls of their own, the two women reveal secrets they have kept for decades while knitting on the terrace of a restaurant overlooking the ancient ruins of Rome. Alida confesses that when in Rome twenty-five years earlier, she sent Grace a note, signing Delphin’s name, to meet him at the Coliseum by moonlight with the hope that Grace would contract an illness and be unable to pursue Delphin. Grace now reveals that she did meet Delphin that night, and that he is actually the father of her daughter, Barbara. Through the relationship between Alida and Grace and their purposeful revelation of long-held secrets in “Roman Fever,” Wharton explores one of her common themes, hostility between women (Ammons 1), and shows how jealousy and rivalry between women poisons friendships and leads to unintended and undesired consequences (Gawthrop 4). Wharton weaves her story and reveals this theme
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