Roman Fever and Other Stories

Egocentrism Inhibits Camaraderie in "Roman Fever" College

Throughout Edith Wharton’s “Roman Fever,” Mrs. Alida Slade experiences the consequences of an inflated ego as she fails to fully understand her companion, Mrs. Grace Ansley. She is consumed with egocentric priorities, like superiority, deception, and jealousy. While Slade’s egocentrism can be interpreted as purely superficial vanity, this story proves it to be a deterrent to true friendship in “Roman Fever” in its entirety, by making honesty, equality, and selflessness nonexistent qualities in her relationship with Ansley.

One core aspect of any friendship is a sense of equality and shared experience with the other individual. Despite the fact that they live parallel lives, Slade’s egocentrism pushes her to believe that she is in fact superior to Ansley. The two “…had been intimate since childhood…” and “…lived opposite each other – actually as well as figuratively- for years”. These two women have both known a privileged New York lifestyle, love and loss of a husband, and motherhood. Slade recognizes these similarities, but fails to attribute the likeness to equality. Instead, she constantly places herself on a high pedestal. She reflects that “she felt her unemployment [the death of her husband] more than poor Grace ever would...

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