Grace Ansley Essay

It is quite true that Sarah Penn and Grace Ansley come from contrasting social backgrounds and are separated in terms of place and period. Roman Fever is set at the turn of the 20th century and reflects the values and ethos of urban America at that time. Grace Ansley, though belonging to a particular historical era, cannot be said to typify all women of that era.

The strongest proof of her uniqueness is obtained in comparison to her antagonist Alida Slade.

Revolt of Mother, in contrast, is set in rural America. Its primary character, Sarah Penn, is a good representation of the homemakers of that generation. She shares the same problems that most women of her generation suffered, chief among them being male domination. While there are these undeniable differences in terms of their social mileau, the stories of the two women share many similarities. The rest of this essay will delve into these similarities.

The most common characteristic between Sarah Penn and Grace Ansley is their strong will.

Their stories were set at a time when women’s rights were muted and their self-expression undermined. Yet, in their own ways, the two women show daring and assertiveness. This is not to say that their opposition comes in the form of men. It is the prevailing social mores and prevalent patriarchal mindset that serve as their oppressors. For, in terms of the actual personnel, both men and women present the two women several challenges. The antagonist of Mrs. Ansley is her envious friend of many years Mrs.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Culture

5 (339)

“ KarrieWrites did such a phenomenal job on this assignment! He completed it prior to its deadline and was thorough and informative. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Slade. Despite the poly-amorous streak in Mr. Delphin, he is not the main oppressor to either of these women. Years earlier, when the two were young women, Mrs.

Slade hatches a cunning plan to mislead Mrs. Ansley. Anticipating her fiance’s rendezvous with Ansley, Slade writes a forged letter of excuse on behalf of her fiance. The letter announces the cancellation of the rendezvous. But as fate would have it, the politeness of Mrs. Ansley in replying to this letter proves to be a blessing. Upon reading this reply, Mr. Delphin declares to meet her that evening. This fact is not privy to Mrs. Slade, who is smug on the belief that she sabotaged the prospects of a competitor to her fiance’s attention. It is often lamented that women in the 19th century suffered male domination. But the evidence of Roman Fever prompts how women were undermining their own cause.

Symbols In Roman Fever

The strength of character of the two women can be learnt from other details as well. For example, despite attempts of deception on part of Mrs. Slade, Mrs. Ansley displays real strength of character. She spends no time fretting and regretting about having to lose Mr. Delphin. Instead, the consummation of their love bears her Barbara, who grows into a lovely young girl. As the final line of the story claims triumphantly, Barbara is indeed a symbol of Mrs. Ansley’s success. Despite not having Mr.Delphin to support her and Barbara, Mrs. Ansley does an exemplary job in raising her daughter. She must have surely felt the pain of social ostracization. Yet her tenacity and perseverance proves fruitful in the end. That fruition is in the healthy blossoming of young Barbara. Just like Mrs. Ansley emerges a successful woman in spite of her adversities, so does Mrs. Sarah Penn. In Mrs. Penn’s case, the adversity is not so much an individual as a whole social structure. Her husband, though not meaning to insult her, finds no qualms in being the sole decision maker in the family.

In her long battle to alter the mindset of her husband, Mrs. Penn tries various methods of persuasion. But it eventually occurs to her that no amount of constructive dialogue or protest is going to help her meet her objective. This objective of Mrs. Penn is to build a bigger house for the family to live in. But, as Mary Wilkins Freeman skillfully portrays, women of the era faced numerous hurdles in realizing their interests. Mrs. Penn’s patient fight for self-determination comes to a climax when she finally decides to convert the barn into the house without informing her husband. This decisive act of hers towards the end of the story can be interpreted at multiple levels. The obvious interpretation is that it achieves a practical end, namely, finding a bigger abode for a growing family. But, more importantly, it is a symbolic victory for the long suffering wife in Mrs. Penn.

While Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Penn are obviously the heroes of their respective tales, there are other characters in the plot who serve as scaffolds for presenting their heroism. In the case of Revolt of Mother, it is the children of Mrs. Penn. It is her conversations with them about her preference for a bigger house that creates tension in the plot and takes it forward. Likewise, for Mrs. Ansley, it is the lengthy exchanges with Mrs. Slade, which serves a similar purpose. Although the two women were once childhood friends, their common interest in the same man had undermined their friendship. As adults with daughters of their own, their sense of possessiveness and self-interestedness only grows bigger in the intervening years. Yet it is Mrs. Ansley who comes across as the kinder and more generous of the two. She is not blatantly jealous of the happy married life of Mrs. Slade.

Another commonality between Mrs. Penn and Mrs. Ansley is their relation to men. Mr. Adoniram and Mr. Delphin are the two significant men in their respective lives. Needless to say, in the both the cases, the men are either indifferent or plain absent to heed to their women’s concerns. Adoniram is a typical patriarchal figure who presumes his authority to be a natural fact of life. Author Freeman is careful not to portray Adoniram as the villain of a melodrama, for in truth he is not one. He comes across a simple person, one who carries an inflated ego as a result of his misplaced claim to authority. But the fragility and the lack of substance to his bloated ego is exposed the moment Sarah is able to find the “right besieging tools”.

Having found his measure thus, she was able to dismantle his authority, his self-concept and also achieve her goal all in one stroke. Indeed, there is an interesting interpretation to the two selves of Adoniram – the one before and the one after Sarah’s bold revolt. These two selves are likened to the two houses of the family. The first is the congested and ill-equipped old house, and the second is the more expansive and better suited new house. Sarah Penn’s revolt, in this sense, is also an act of liberating her husband from his shackled mindset. Coming to Mr. Delphin, one cannot really blame him for being absent from Grace Ansley and Barbara. Grace knew all too well that such is going to be the case and willingly consented to have Barbara. Nevertheless, it is a sad fact, that the men in their lives had not been supportive to them.

The stories of the two women share a few common symbols too. Just as The Revolt of Mother has its share of symbolism, so does Roman Fever. For Mrs. Ansley, the real victory is the successful rearing of her girl child Barbara. Indeed Barbara is the symbol of her victory, apart from being the joy and pride for Mrs. Ansley. Just as living quarters are used as symbols of personalities in Revolt of Mother, buildings used to symbolize themes in Roman Fever. For example, in Revolt of Mother the old house is contrasted to the newer and bigger structure of the barn. In a similar fashion, buildings such as the Palatine, Coliseum and the Forum are used to depict the nature of relationships between the characters. Since these are monuments already in ruins, they aptly symbolize the state of relationship between Mrs. Ansley and Mrs. Slade. The Coliseum is an apt metaphor, for it was the site of gladiatorial fights during the peak of the Roman Empire. As well, they represent their widowed status, which is a cause of deep pain for both of them.

Cite this page

Grace Ansley Essay. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Grace Ansley Essay
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7