"Roman Fever" is a short story written by Edith Wharton. The main characters of this story are Mrs. Ansley, two middle-aged women who grew up together and have know each other for many years. The whole story takes place in Rome where the two women are sitting together on the terrace of a restaurant. The two women stay sitting on this terrace because they enjoy the view of Rome from where they are seated. This story has a surprise ending and is full of many different emotions, including nostalgia, envy, and betrayal. .
"Roman Fever" starts off simple, with Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley enjoying lunch together. They each have a daughter, and while they are having lunch they can hear the voices of their daughters below. One says " let's leave the young things to their knitting after all, we haven"t left them much else to do ." These statements indicate that these two women, both of whom are widows, now live a simple, somewhat dull life with much time to kill. As a few hours pass, Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley decide to stay where they are, and Mrs. Ansley asks the waiter if this is all right with him. He states that it is fine. As these women are sitting and enjoying the view, their conversation begins to turn in the direction of the past and the memories that they share. Though their conversation seems pleasant enough, the mood begins to change as the story progresses.
Mrs. Slade is the widow of a famous corporation lawyer. She had always considered herself as his equal, but after his passing she felt unimportant. Wharton writes: "It was a big drop from being the wife of Delphin Slade to being his widow ." This paints a picture of a woman who enjoyed status and wealth. She lived her life for prestige and is now left feeling lonely and empty. Mrs. Ansley, on the other hand, is considered to be a bit dull by Mrs. Slade. Wharton states that Mrs. Slade "had grown bored" with Mrs. Anlsey's mundane life long ago.