Roman Fever Characters
by Edith Wharton

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Roman Fever Characters

(Short Stories for Students)

Barbara Ansley
Barbara Ansley is the brilliant and vivacious daughter of Mrs. Ansley. Barbara and her mother are vacationing in Rome with their neighbors, Mrs. Slade and her daughter Jenny Slade. Barabara and Jenny are away spending time with some Italian aviators during the story's conversation between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley. Mrs. Slade envies Mrs. Ansley for her brilliant daughter. During the course of this conversation, Mrs. Ansley reveals to Mrs. Slade that Barbara is the daughter of Mrs. Slade's late husband, Delphin.

Grace Ansley
Mrs. Grace Ansley, a middle-aged widow, is a wealthy New Yorker who is vacationing in Italy with her daughter Barbara, and her neighbor Mrs. Slade, and her daughter Jenny Slade. In Mrs. Slade's opinion, Mrs. Ansley has led a staid, uneventful life. Although she presents the picture of the proper middle-aged widow, for instance, knitting and looking at the Roman view, her calm exterior hides a secret past.

As a young lady in Italy, Grace (Mrs. Ansley) fell in love with Alida's (Mrs. Slade's) fiance, Delphin. However, after meeting him one night at the ruins of the Colosseum, she had become quite ill. When she rose from her sickbed, she immediately married Mr. Ansley.

Despite her marriage to Mr. Ansley, she has always nursed the memory of her evening with Delphin, and the letter he had sent her. When Mrs. Slade reveals that she, in fact, sent the letter, not Delphin, Mrs. Ansley's fantasy is destroyed. She, in turn, reveals to her friend an even more devastating secret: that her dynamic daughter, who Mrs. Ansley has long noted is so different from either of her parents, is in fact Delphin's daughter.

Mrs. Ansley
See Grace Ansley

Alida Slade
Mrs. Alida Slade, a middle-aged, wealthy, New York widow, is vacationing in Italy with her daughter Jenny, her neighbor Mrs. Ansley, and her daughter Barbara Ansley. The wife of a famous corporate lawyer, Mrs. Slade found her married days filled with excitement and adventure. She prided herself on being a charming entertainer, a good hostess, and a vibrant woman in her own right. After the death of her husband Delphin, Mrs. Slade finds life dull, with only her daughter to divert her; however, Jenny is quiet and self-sufficient.

Mrs. Slade feels both superior to and envious of her lifelong friend, Mrs. Ansley. She also has been nursing a decades-long resentment against Mrs. Ansley, for falling in love with Delphin when Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade were both young ladies on vacation in Italy. Afraid that Grace (Mrs. Ansley) would steal away her fiance, Alida (Mrs. Slade)...

(The entire section is 656 words.)