Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Edith Wharton's Roman Fever. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Roman Fever: Introduction
Roman Fever: Plot Summary
Roman Fever: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Roman Fever: Themes
Roman Fever: Quotes
Roman Fever: Characters
Roman Fever: Symbols
Roman Fever: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Edith Wharton
Historical Context of Roman Fever
Other Books Related to Roman Fever
- Full Title: Roman Fever
- When Published: 1934
- Literary Period: Realism
- Genre: Short Story, Realistic Fiction
- Setting: A terrace in Rome, Italy
- Climax: Alida Slade reveals that she was the author of a love letter Grace Ansley received many years before the story begins.
- Antagonist: Although the story follows the thoughts of Mrs. Slade more closely than those of Mrs. Ansley, neither character is quite sympathetic enough to be called the protagonist—making it difficult to name one of them antagonist. Each of the two women sees the other as an antagonist, and therefore the spirit of competition that exists between them could be seen as the story’s clearest antagonist.
- Point of View: Third person limited, restricted mostly to Mrs. Slade’s perspective.
Extra Credit for Roman Fever
Roman Fever in History. “Roman Fever,” the particularly deadly strain of malaria from which Wharton’s story takes its name, may have played a role in the collapse of the Roman empire. Some historians speculate that a rash of deaths from malaria may have contributed to social instability in ancient Rome, leaving the city (and, by extension, the vast and powerful empire) vulnerable to attacks from foreign invaders.
Keeping Up With The Joneses. Wharton’s father, George Frederic Jones, was descended from a family of substantial wealth and social prestige. The idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”—an idiomatic expression that describes the pressure many people feel to compare their material possessions to those of their neighbors—is thought to have originated as a reference to Wharton’s paternal relatives.