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Written by Barbara
(10/3/2006 12:42 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, What is the point of Mr Palmer in S&S?, penned by Tracy W
Mr. Palmer seems to be as seriously mismatched with his wife as Lady Middleton is with Sir John, in terms of temperaments. I often think that the two couples would have been better with each other's spouses: Mr. Palmer and Lady Middleton, Sir John and Charlotte.
In Ch. 8, we read of Mrs. Jennings "She had only two daughters, both of whom she had lived to see respectably married, and she had now therefore nothing to do but marry all the rest of the world. "
Yes, they are respectably married, but did they marry someone who suited them, who made them happy, or who loved them?
I think this is one of the key purposes of Mr. Palmer in the novel. The Palmer marriage is an example of what Marianne and Elinor most emphatically do NOT want. So is the Middleton marriage. Although both Marianne and Elinor pretty much have to marry, neither could accept it at such a price, to live with someone rude or who cared nothing for you, or who had nothing in common with you and nothing to say to you, just to have a comfortable home.
Just a little later in Ch. 8, we read Mrs. Jennings idea about Colonel Brandon and Marianne: "It would be an excellent match, for he was rich and she was handsome. Mrs. Jennings had been anxious to see Colonel Brandon well married, ever since her connection with Sir John first brought him to her knowledge; and she was always anxious to get a good husband for every pretty girl."
For her, a good husband=a rich husband who is respectable. There are no other requirements. All that such a man should need in a life partner is that she is pretty.
Mrs. Jennings is not alone in this attitude, for Sir John seems to be of the same mind, as he showed when the Dashwoods were first quizzing him about Willoughby. "Yes, yes, he is very well worth catching, I can tell you, Miss Dashwood; he has a pretty little estate of his own in Somersetshire besides; and if I were you, I would not give him up to my younger sister in spite of all this tumbling down hills."
The goal is to be matched up with someone---anyone, in fact--as long as HE is wealthy and respectable enough and SHE is pretty. The attitude of many people in the book seems to be that men are pretty much interchangable, as long as you can get one to marry you!
This is highlighted metaphorically by the number of times the girls' suitors are mistaken for one another in the story. We already saw Marianne mistake Edward for Willoughby when he rode up. There is more of this sort of thing to come...
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