How has the relationship between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley evolved in "Roman Fever"?

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As "Roman Fever" opens, Mrs. Slade considers herself superior to her old friend—or frenemy—Grace Ansley. She thinks of Mrs. Ansley and her late husband as "two nullities." She condescendingly considers Grace as "old-fashioned." She feels she has "won" in the game of life over this rival.

Mrs. Slade is taller and more commanding than Grace, and her late husband, Delphin, was more successful than Mr. Ansley. Yet, while Mrs. Slade consciously acknowledges only that Grace's vibrant daughter, Barbara, is more vibrant than her own daughter, it is clear that Grace still makes Mrs. Slade feel insecure. This becomes evident when she goes out of her way to tell Grace about the hoax she pulled years ago of writing a letter pretending to be Delphin, asking Grace to meet him at the Coliseum. As Mrs. Slade recalls, she knew Grace was in love with Delphin and hoped she would get Roman fever while waiting in vain for Delphin's arrival. She wants to rub in that she knows all about Grace's humiliation. She is still jealous of Grace's former beauty.

But Grace turns the tables. She says she wrote back to Delphin after getting the note, and he did meet her. They experienced the "Roman fever" of lust and had sex. Mrs. Slade says:

Yes, I was beaten there. But I oughtn't to begrudge it to you, I suppose. At the end of all these years. After all, I had everything; I had him for twenty-five years. And you had nothing but that one letter that he didn't write.

But Mrs. Ansley gets in the final blow. At the end of the story, she is the one who has won, and Mrs. Slade can no longer feel superior:

Mrs. Ansley was again silent. At length she took a step toward the door of the terrace, and turned back, facing her companion.

"I had Barbara," she said, and began to move ahead of Mrs. Slade toward the stairway.

In other words, the affair Grace had with Mr. Slade produced the wonderful daughter Mrs. Slade envies. The story shows a smug, superior woman taken down by the friend she was always sure she had bested.

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During their second trip to Rome, Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley sit on the terrace overlooking "the outspread glories of the Palatine and the Forum" and reveal to each other the treacheries of long ago that belong to their shared past. This revelation exposes the falseness of any friendship they may have had.

In Rome, away from New York City, the two women relax on the parapet after bidding good-bye to their daughters who have dates with two Italian men. There they reflect upon how little they really know of each other. Then, when a reference to the full moon causes Mrs. Slade to react "as though references to the moon were out of place" the tension builds as Mrs. Ansley remarks further that she and Mrs. Slade really did not know each other well when they were young. Still, each woman has "a label ready to attach to each other's name," not to mention unkind thoughts about each other, such as those about the other's beauty and the personalities of their daughters--that is, they "visualized each other, each through the wrong end of her little telescope."

As both women sit on the parapet and Grace Ansley knits, they have their private interior monologues. In truth, they only associated while they were young because they were neighbors. As they speak of their daughters, Mrs. Slade reveals her envy of Grace Ansley: "I always wanted a brilliant daughter...and never quite understood why I got an angel instead." Memories arise from the shadows as she leans upon the parapet. As one memory ignites another, Mrs. Slade reveals having tricked Mrs. Ansley into a rendezvous with Delphin Slade so that Grace would contract Roman Fever because she knew Grace was in love with Delphin, who was engaged to the young Mrs. Slade.

   "...I hated you, hated you. I knew you were in love with Delphin--and I was afraid of you...your sweetness....Well, I wanted you out of the way....I don't know why I'm telling you now."
   "I suppose," said Mrs. Ansley slowly, "it's because you've gone on hating me."

Then Mrs. Slade accuses Mrs. Ansley of trying to take Delphin away from her:

"I kept him. That's all."
"Yes. That's all."

Further, as they sit in the dark, Mrs. Slade reveals that she wrote the letter as a "sort of joke." This remark perplexes Mrs. Ansley who tells her old friend that in fact she did not wait because Delphin made all the arrangements, and he came because she answered the letter. At this news, Mrs. Slade is shocked. Mrs. Ansley tells her that she is sorry for her, but Mrs. Slade replies that she does not know why Mrs. Ansley should feel sorry for her when she had Delphin for twenty-five years, and she had nothing.

"I had Barbara," she quietly replies and moves ahead of Mrs. Sloan.

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What do Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley have in common in "Roman Fever"?  

Mrs. Shade and Mrs. Ansley share a similar social background. They're both part of the gilded upper-class world that Edith Wharton wrote about so often. More importantly, Alida and Grace are linked by Delphin. Alida Slade is Delphin's widow, and Grace Ansley was once his lover.

Of course, Mrs. Slade is blissfully unaware of any of this until right at the end of the story. She'd never have thought in a million years that Delphin, her Delphin, would've been involved in a sexual relationship with Grace, especially after Alida sent her that false letter as a joke. But he most certainly did get involved, and the proof can be seen in the features of Grace's daughter, Barbara, who bears a striking resemblance to her father.

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What do Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley have in common in "Roman Fever"?  

In Edith Wharton's short story "Roman Fever," Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley have a couple of things in common. It takes a while for the reader to figure out what these things are, though. The story starts out with two women sitting together in Rome having a light conversation. As the story progresses, however, the reader learns that both women have secrets. This is revealed as the narrator shows each woman's inner thoughts, and later when the women tell their secrets.

Eventually, Mrs. Slade tells Mrs. Ansley that she has known all along that Mrs. Ansley had a crush on the man who would be her husband. Her secret is that she, and not Delphin, wrote the letter to Mrs. Ansley all those years ago. Then Mrs. Ansley reveals her own secret. She really did go to meet Delphin at the Colosseum and he, too, went there. Furthermore, she had his child.

Both women had secrets they'd been keeping for years. They also had feelings for the same man, Delphin. Although Mrs. Slade would go on to marry him and have a daughter with him, Mrs. Ansley had a secret tryst with and a child by him.

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How did the relationship between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley change by the end of "Roman Fever"? And how did the last six paragraphs of the story show this change?

Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley have never had a close relationship. They lived across the street from one another, but there has always been animosity between them, although unspoken, so in a way, the tense, unhealthy relationship between the two was only brought to the forefront by the revelations by both women in the last few paragraphs.

The two women are very different from one another, obviously, so although the revelations by both women will, no doubt, change the relationship, it was never a healthy or close one to begin with. The two seemed to be bonded primarily through their daughters, who are close friends. The underlying tension between the two is evident throughout the story, so the friendship, already being on shaky ground and most likely headed to its demise after their daughters move away, will certainly only now implode.

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How did the relationship between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley change by the end of "Roman Fever"? And how did the last six paragraphs of the story show this change?

The relationship appears to be quite stiff and formal at the outset. But at the same time, we can detect that, beneath the conversational niceties, the relationship between the two women is profoundly unequal. Mrs. Slade is by far the more forceful character of the two. She is assertive and dominant as she lets rip with all the resentment that she has kept contained for so long. Mrs. Slade knows full well that Mrs. Ansley is likely to be hurt by what she says, but she really does not care. All that matters is putting Mrs. Ansley in her place.

But by the end of the story, the worm has well and truly turned. However, Mrs. Ansley, unlike Mrs. Slade, does not need to be aggressively unpleasant to gain the upper hand. All she needs to do is calmly inform the astonished Mrs. Slade of what really happened in Rome all those years ago. Mrs. Slade was foolish enough to rake over old coals, and Mrs. Ansley made her pay for it. It is now the timid, mousy Mrs. Ansley who is firmly on top in this relationship.

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How did the relationship between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley change by the end of "Roman Fever"? And how did the last six paragraphs of the story show this change?

The relationship of the two women in Edith Wharton's "Roman Fever" changes drastically by the end of the story. While Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade are distant and polite at the start, they both seem to be hiding something. As the story progresses, Mrs. Slade goes on the attack because she can't stand it any longer and must tell Mrs. Ansley that she knows what happened many years ago. Mrs. Slade feels she has the upper hand because she wrote the letter that was supposedly from her then fiancé all the while Mrs. Ansley thought it was from him and treasured that memory.

The last six paragraphs of the story, however, change the power dynamic when Mrs. Ansley reveals that she did in fact meet Mr. Slade in secret at the Colosseum in Rome. More than that, though, she had his daughter. The conversation, which has been like a game of chess, comes to a close with Mrs. Ansley the clear winner because her secrets far exceed the superior Mrs. Slade's.

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