Love and romance are the most popular topics in literature. Evidently, love does not come easily. It is a fact that great romantic stories come along with a plethora of obstacles encountered mostly by women. In the narrative “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” by F. Scoot Fitzgerald and “Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton the only obstacles that face the characters are their friends. Both stories have stylistic and thematic similarities, especially on competition and femininity issues. Despite the fact that they are alike in the aspects mentioned, they are different when it comes to betrayal. This essay will elaborate the differences and similarities in style, characters, and themes in the short stories “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” and “Roman Fever”.
“Bernice Bobs Her Hair” depicts that there exists a difference in communication tactics between two women and men in the 1920s. Marjorie, a socialite, is portrayed as superior to others since she values the power of status and sex appeal. Overall, she ideally represents what it means to be a modern girl. Notably, Marjorie’s characteristics are considered controversial, especially in a post-Victorian era. Fitzgerald portrays the other feminine character in Bernice. She is a clumsy outsider and always seeks for guidance from her cousin Marjorie. As the story continues, Bernice is seen struggling to keep up with Marjorie’s excellent seductive ways. Evidently, Bernice’s outlook on femininity is helpless. However, her fast transition from a naive child to an attractive woman makes men take advantage of her.
Marjorie gets upset when she realizes that her cousin is interested in one of her male friends, whom Marjorie likes a lot. As a result, she is not happy that competition is occurring between her and Bernice. Marjorie is determined to destroy the popularity which she helped her cousin Bernice to achieve. Marjorie competes to get back her popularity and title and convinces Bernice to cut off her godly hair since most males adored her locks. It is the only way Marjorie can get back her attention. Bernice seems to be blinded by her success in social life, thus, she does not appear to see her cousin’s malicious intentions. She bobs her hair, and boys immediately lose interest in her. Bernice understands he has been tricked. This competition comes to an end when Bernice snips off her cousin’s hair before going to town. Thus, the girl wins the competition.
In the short story “Roman Fever”, Wharton has also incorporated the theme of competition and femininity. Just like in “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, the two women are school friends. However, they are both hostile in their relationships towards each other. Even though femininity is portrayed in this story, the competition between the two females is more apparent.
The concept of women fighting over men is also relevant in the narrative “Roman Fever.” Ms. Ansley and Ms. Slade secretly and selfishly are playing the game of tug of war, the winning prize of which is Delphine, a man both women are in love with. The competition begins with Ms. Slade writing a love letter to Ms. Ansley purportedly from Delphine, hoping that she would go outside and catch a plague called Roman fever. The aim of her plan is to get Ms. Ansley out of the city so that Ms. Slade gets enough time to spend with Delphine, who she later marries. Apparently, Ms. Slade has no idea that Ms. Ansley has met with Delphine the night before. For some years, Ms. Slade had believed that her plot worked out well, but finally, the two married just as she had hoped.
Different styles are portrayed in the two stories. In “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”, the author uses metaphors and hyperbole to describe Bernice’s feelings as she enters the barber shop. The differences between Marjorie’s vicious nature and delicate appearance are described in similes. The author also uses foreshadowing when Marjorie calls her cousin Bernice “a bluff”, and this makes Bernice narrow her eyes imagining how Marjorie could look with her new hair. The two women are driven by jealousy and passion, struggling for one man’s attention, thus, making them adopt strange hairstyle aiming to impress their audiences.
The imagery style is broadly used in “Roman Fever.” Wharton uses imagery to send various messages across. For example, she utilizes knitting as a common work for traditional women. Some readers may view it as a routine chore among females. However, on closer inspection, the author uses it to bring out differences in the inner emotions of the characters’ normalcy in knitting. The title of the story is symbolic. “Roman Fever” represents sexual immorality, contagious and even sexually transmitted diseases and other evils things that women face in the society.
The female characters in both narratives are related in terms of behavior. In the two cases, the ultimate enemy of the woman is another woman. The main characters in both stories are linked in the manner that they develop from social strata. In “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” the main character develops to be a passive lady dying for fame. Finally, she gets the much-awaited attention, loses it and becomes strong and independent. At first, Bernice was boring and not worth her cousin’s company. She finally learns how to become popular and famous. On the other hand, Wharton’s story is different and develops characters from low to the uppermost coveted status in society. Notably, both narratives are humorous and use dark tones.
In conclusion, the two works are related in some ways. The relations appear in the styles used. Besides, the themes of competition and femininity also show some similarities and differences. Both stories talk about women contemplating their relationship that had been threatened by culture and self-desire. Women in the two narrations are also jealous of each other.