The book Roman Fever is riddled with a lot of irony. The book depicts the lives of two women. At the beginning of the book the theme of irony is not seen, but at the end of it, the reader realizes that the whole Roman Fever is full of irony. The mere fact is that Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade think that they have known each other well since childhood. In fact, they know very little about each other. There is irony in this context, since what they know is literally the opposite of what is true.
Another instance of irony is seen when Mrs. Slade states "I had [Delphin] for twenty-five years" ,while Mrs. Ansley had "nothing but a letter he didn't write." This statement as it stands can bring out the theme of irony, since Mrs. Ansley had Barbara, who was her illegitimate daughter with Delphin. This context depicts a lot of secrecy around this two women, caused by the lack of trust between them. The mistrust is brought about by the existence of jealousy between those women. This is ironic because at the beginning of the story they talk as if they knew everything about each other.
“Of course I was upset when I heard you were so ill afterward,” Alida says. But Grace
replies that she did not have to wait and that Delphin was there. Alida does not believe Grace. But Grace says, ‘‘he was indeed there because she answered the letter.’’This extract is ironic because Mrs. Slade narrates that she was upset when she heard that Mrs. Ansely was very ill and yet, in the previous context, we see that she wanted her to be sick with Roman fever, so that Delphin, her fiancée, will not come during the engagement.
“Engrossed in her knitting, Grace answers yes perfunctorily between stitches, as if she is really not that interested in Alida's observation. Her attitude annoys Alida, who then shifts her thoughts to her companion’s daughter.”
This extract brings a lot of irony in the book Roman Fever. Mrs. Slade thinks that Mrs. Ansely has attitude towards her. However, Mrs. Ansely does not have a clue at all about what her friend’s thought is. The irony in this context is cultivated by the presence of tension between two women.
“Barbara is out to snare one of the fliers, a marchese, Alida thinks, and her poor Jenny cannot compete with her. Perhaps Jenny’s inability to compete is the reason that Grace Ansley wants Barbara to befriend Jenny—Barbara will always stand out in comparison”
The irony in this extract is that Mrs. Slade thinks that Barbara is undefeated in any competition because she is pretty. However, in the real world no one can be defeated in all fields, everyone is special in his/her own way. There is one more example of irony – Mrs. Ansely is persuaded that Barbara used to be more beautiful than when she was a teenager. This is not true because beauty lies in the eye of beholder.
The climax occurs when Mrs. Slade reveals Mrs. Ansley’s late-night excursion to the Colosseum twenty-five years ago. Mrs. Slade’s fiancé, Delphin, reveals that Mrs. Ansley’s daughter is the child of Mrs. Slade’s late husband. This is too ironical for someone who has her friend’s husband daughter.
In conclusion therefore, we can deduce that the book Roman Fever is full of irony from the beginning to the end. The book symbolizes the ironical passion that drives the plot. Hence, one would concur that the whole book is full of unjust irony.