Estelle Nedermeijer Professor: A. Hoag English Proficiency 1, 1b 18 October 2011 The importance of minor character in “Roman Fever” by Wharton. Roman Fever is a story which was written by Edith Wharton in 1934. The story is divided in two parts and tells of the interactions of two women of high society. The story is mostly concentrated on the two major characters Mrs. Slanders and Mrs. Ansley. However there are minor characters that also play an important role. The two minor characters the most described are Barbara and Jenny the daughters of Mrs. Slanders and Mrs. Ansley.
The description of the minor characters is important in Roman Fever because it slowly builds up the story and the atmosphere in the story to make a powerful climax. This is done throughout the descriptions of the characters as well as the contrasts between all of the characters personalities. Barbara is an important minor character because she helps by giving information about Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley personalities. Barbara plays a greater role than Jenny in this story because she is mentioned more times but also because of the fact that she is a key character to the plot.
With the help of her character we can learn from Mrs. Slade that she seeks action in her life because she got bored of her widows life as it is expressed by “Yes; being the Slade’s widow was a dullish business after that. ” (Wharton 88). Mrs. Slade also envies Mrs. Ansley because she has such a gaily daughter which brings excitement into her dull life this is supported by the phrase “”Now with Babs Ansley I don’t know that I should be so quiet,” Mrs. Slade sometimes half-enviously reflected… ” (Wharton 88). Mrs.
Ansley on the other hand doesn’t want to get too involved in her daughter’s life, she would rather have a peaceful life than an active one as it is expressed by “And… and never be in their way… she’s much too tactful…and a perfectly peaceful old age among her grandchildren. “(Wharton 90). All of this being said it is made clear thanks to Barbara’s personality that Mrs. Slade searches for a bit of excitement in her life meanwhile Mrs. Ansley is more of an old fashioned image and only desires peacefulness. Simultaneously Jenny is an important character because she emphasizes some characteristics of Mrs.
Slade and also shows the great difference between her and Barbara. Mrs. Slade and her daughter are really different from each other which actually distorts the vision of Mrs. Slade of her own daughter. Jenny is described as a calm and caring daughter while Mrs. Slade actually just desires some action in her life which she isn’t getting from her dull daughter. This is expressed thought the phrase: “Jenny was such a perfect daughter that she needed no excessive mothering” (Wharton 88) and also by: “was all perplexing—and to Mrs. Slade a little boring” (Wharton 88).
It is made very clear that Mrs. Slade grew bored of her own daughter and wishes for more excitement in her life. In short it means that Jenny is seen as a good, pretty girl but more importantly as an ordinary one. Furthermore, both Jenny and Barbara are important because they suggest that the dynamic between Mrs. Slade and Mrs. Ansley is similar to theirs when they were younger. Throughout the story it is clearly shown that the personalities of the two daughters are similar to the mothers when they were young. It is understandably shown by the fact that some events are similar.
When Mrs. Slade had the same age than Barbara she got engaged to a prosperous man and similarly it is expressed that “Babs would almost certainly come back engaged to the extremely eligible Campolieri. ” (Wharton 90). This shows the high possibility that the story would repeat itself throughout a younger generation. On top of that the similarities between the daughters and the mothers put an emphasis on the high possibility of the incoming events. Barbara is described as a gaily person which is comparable to Mrs. Slade vividness when she was younger.
Jenny is also described as an “angel” which is comparable to the sweetness of young Mrs. Ansley’s. All this being said it is clear that Barbara is quite different from her mother and that she has a personality which is more similar to Mrs. Slade as well that Jenny personality is also more similar to Mrs. Ansley’s. To conclude, the minor character roles are really important in this story because it builds up the story by the comparison of the characters. Firstly, Barbara’s personality allowed us to discover Mrs. Slade desires and to learn more of Mrs. Ansley old fashion. Secondly, Jenny allowed us to discover a bit more of Mrs.
Slade personality throughout her feelings for her own daughter. Thirdly, both daughters compared to their younger mothers suggest that there are similarities between them and that there is a high possibility that the history might repeat itself. All of this together shows us that the minor characters were necessary to get an insight of the mother’s personalities as well as a better vision of the plot. Word Count: 856 Works Cited: • Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays- The Norton Introduction to Literature- shorter 10th edition. • Kirszner & Mandell- The Wadsworth Handbook- ninth edition ———————–