In "Roman Fever," why didn't Grace publicly acknowledge her love for Delphin and force him to choose between her and Alida?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is important to remember in this story that the exposure of feelings and actions that occurred long ago, even though they still have massive impact on the present, was something that was greeted very differently at the time of writing the short story than they would have been today. The secrets submerged in "Roman Fever" involve issues that were taboo in Victorian society, such as sex outside of marriage and secret loves. That is not to say that such issues did not occur, but rather they were far more difficult to talk about and openly acknowledge than it is in today's society. Society at that time was dominated by the importance of appearances, and it was vital that Grace married quickly when she realised she was pregnant after her night-time engagement with Delphin in order to protect herself, her child and Delphin. Grace says very little in the story, responding only to what Alida says, but note the following exchange in particular:

"You tried your best to get him away from me, didn't you? But you failed; and I kept him. That's all."

"Yes. That's all."

It can be inferred that Grace from this felt that she had fought a losing battle to try and win Delphin. The story makes it clear that she married very quickly following her tryst with Delphin in order to cover up her relationship with Delphin and make the child appear to be her husband's. This in Victorian society meant that she gave up all hope of being with Delphin, as it was far more difficult and much rarer to divorce in those times. Grace was therefore unable to openly acknowledge her love for Delphin because of the societal restrictions placed upon both men and women at the time.

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Roman Fever

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