What do we know about Mrs. Slade for the way she describes her friend in "Roman Fever"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the very beginning of the story "Roman Fever", the character of Mrs. Slade comes across as quite rash and impertinent. She is obviously a greatly opinionated woman whose extroverted nature renders her almost abrasive, though her social status still invites to consider the possibility of a redeeming quality or two.

In her description of her "frienemy" Mrs. Ansley, Mrs. Slade inadvertently shows her contempt against one who, 25 years ago, was considered a rival for the love of Slade's late husband. We see this in the way that Mrs. Slade emphasizes in the lost looks of Mrs. Ansley

Mrs. Horace Ansley, twenty-five years ago, had been exquisitely lovely—no, you wouldn't believe it, would you! though, of course, still charming, distinguished....her daughter, Barbara...at any rate, [is] more effective—had more edge, as they say.

In addition to place Ansley's looks below those of her own daughter, Mrs. Slade moves on to also criticize the behavior of the Ansley's whom she considers to be "nullities as parents".

Museum specimens of old New York. Good-looking, irreproachable, exemplary.

Having been neighbors for so long, and still so-called friends, one would assume that Mrs. Slade would at least ease out the energy that she has accumulated for years thinking about Ms. Ansley and her past with Slade's husband. Moreover, we can almost assure that Mrs. Slade was never very sure of herself in Ansley's presence, which is the reason why, rather than be offended, she prefers to throw the first short and be offensive to those who intimidate her. Perhaps Mrs. Slade, with her "dark looks" and "black eyebrows" was not the epitome of beauty and she certainly had the need to make others feel the same way. What is for sure, is that Mrs. Slade still, after all these years, considers Mrs. Ansley to be a threat of a historical, mental, and emotional sort.

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Roman Fever

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