The significance of the title "Roman fever" by Edith Wharton

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Edith Wharton

Analyze the significance of the title 'Roman fever'

An interesting story about two genteel ladies and their triangle love began at Rome, which is famous for its extremely romantic beauty. And twenty five years later, also by these two ladies, also at this beautiful city, all the secrets in the past are revealed. The true face of the upper class for which these two women represent as a result is exposed ironically by Edith Wharton, one of the best American writer of the twentieth century. It was not until the very end of the story that the readers recognize the insightful significance of the title 'Roman fever' which is not only a kind of a physical deadly disease but also a metaphor for jealousy, rivalry and hostility of women in the writer's days.

Roman fever, first of all, refers to pneumonia which was a common fatal disease in Rome at that time.

Wharton wrote in her work: 'no worse risk than catching cold during the cool hour after sunset'. That obviously showed the threatening of the 'danger hour' when 'Roman fever stalked the streets'. Consequencely, girls of the noble families were carefully guarded and kept in to avoid the attack of this serious fever. However, Grace Ansley, one of the main characters of this story, once for some reason went out during the 'danger hour' regardless of the risk of being ill. It was one of the important elements leading to the conflict of the story.

However, Roman fever is most significant not for the ordinary meaning of a material disease but for its symbol of the obsessive jealousy and vengeful antagonism which are capable of destroying many fine relationships as well as disturbing the...