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Word Count: 783
Roman Fever Roman Fever is an outstanding example of Edith Whartons theme to express the subtle nuances of formal upper class society that cause change underneath the pretense of stability Wharton studied what actually made their common society tick paying attention to unspoken signals the histories of relationships and seemingly coincidental parallels All of these factors contribute to the strength and validity of the story of Mrs Slade and Mrs Ansley Roman Fever at first strikes the reader as the simple rather dull story of two middle aged women sitting on a veranda The inactiveness of the situation appears to be evident in Mrs Slades comment Well I dont see why we shouldnt just stay here reflecting that she and Mrs Ansley have nothing else to do but to sit through the afternoon overlooking Rome 779 Nothing seems to be going on in this opening sequence yet nothing could be farther from the truth The two women have been involved in a battle for the past twenty years whether they were fully aware of it or not Subtle signs such as Mrs Ansleys slight stress on herself with her response It always will be to me 779 and Mrs Slades recollection of a joke she made years ago regarding her friends home being raided for a speakeasy express to the reader the feeling of unrest distrust and dislike that exists beneath the genteel surface of the relationship of the two women 780 She thinks of Jenny Slade the child of a couple that prided themselves on their exceptional social graces own mother as a little boring 781 a description she also considered for Mrs Ansley when recalling that she had grown bored with Mrs Ansleys mundane life long ago 780 Barbara Ansley on the other hand was everything that Jenny Slade was not Mrs Slade wondered how such a beautiful exuberant young woman came to be with those two nullities as parents 780 The
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