Thanks for another interesting post, Robbin. I've always found Mr Palmer somewhat of a puzzle....pardon if I'm my rambly.
My impression is Mr Palmer is not ill-natured yet he can be unnesssarily rude to people around him.
The narrator comments on the 'studied indifference, insolence and discontent' of Mr Palmer.
In these chapters his remarks on people like Sir John and Mrs Jennings seem true, yet they'd be best not said.
Charlotte appears vapourish yet when Mr Palmber calls Mrs Jennings 'ill-bred' I thought she showed abit of sense,
" 'My love, you contidict everybody', said his wife, with her usual laugh. Do you not know you are quite rude ?'" (ch. 20)
She's determined to retain good humour with her trying husband.
It seems a shame he is aloof and doesn't establish at least an amiable relationship with Charlotte- (like the Allens in NA.)
Mr Palmer's habitual disconcerting remarks are amusing if odd erh, 'droll' for a man whose trying to go into Parliament and make everybody like him. ;)
Yet despite his cold manner he does show positive qualities which may serve well for public life.
A sense of responsibility, duty, and honesty-- if he refuses to frank for his wife, family or those neighbors who could be potential electors for him to Parliament.
In the Classic tradition, Mr Palmer represents social order, authority and institutional conventions.
Willoughby is an interesting contrast to Mr Palmer and it does appear a significant.
I would associate Willoughby with nature or wilderness. In S&S he is associated alot with animals-as a hunter, Sir John praises his 'nice litte black pointer bitch' and he wanted to give Marieanne with a horse- Queen Mab.
Political parties is a vague concept here. It may mean Willoughby's family traditionally never votes for Mr Palmer's party so he'd never ask his vote. Or, maybe Mr Palmer personally disapproves of Willoughby, so 'in oppostion' with no wish to dine with Willoughby nor have him at his family's home.