Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Pondering the Palmers.
Written by Rachel G
(9/21/2009 6:00 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Palmer marriage, penned by Heather Leigh
First Mr Palmer:
Charlotte says that he finds canvassing to be an MP fatiguing because he is forced to make everybody like him, which suggests to me a pretty broad distaste for the 'give and take' and superficiality of much social interaction.
Through the medium of Elinor's observation of him, JA tells us that Mr Palmer's ill bred behaviour arises from a desire of appearing superior to other people. I think we are meant to take this explanation at face value, though I have to say that I find the extent of Elinor's insight less plausible than the Palmers themselves - she must be almost psychic to perceive so much from 'a little observation'.
Finally, I think it is not so very uncommon for people simply to get into a habit of negativity, which colours their response to almost everything.
As for Charlotte, I can see the reasoning which sees the Palmer's marriage is deeply dysfunctional, and Mr Palmer as a nasty man. By this logic Charlotte, who has to endure his scolding, abuse and studied indifference, must be very unhappy, beneath her her determined good humour and laughter. A more sensitive person might well be, but I don't see any real evidence of this in Charlotte.
I've noticed that Charlotte's way of reacting to Mr P's negativity is very much like her mother's. They laugh it off and make a joke at his expense, rather than taking his insults personally. It's actually quite an effective way of neutralising him and defusing what could be an explosive situation if they took him seriously.
The Palmers do not conform to the ideal of what an happy marriage is supposed to look like, but I think it might actually be better than it looks, allowing for the difference between their intellectual abilities.
I have been friends for many years with a couple who in some ways rather resemble the Palmers. She is a very chatty, cheerful, outgoing woman, while he is the more intellectual/ educated, and convinced of the rightness of his own opinions. He responds to anything which annoys him or he disagrees with by vocalising his opinion at top volume, and with very little editing. She is not at all upset by this and either shrugs it off completely, says that he will feel better for 'getting it off his chest', or simply yells right back at him. The point is that there is no malice or serious intent to wound in their yelling. They are actually very fond of one another and would be flabbergasted by the suggestion that their marriage was dysfunctional. This wouldn't suit me at all as I associate raised voices with really bad feelings, but it just goes to show that there are many different ways of conducting a marriage between disparate individuals.
The Palmers are exaggerations, no doubt, but I have to wonder what was JA's purpose when she created this particular odd couple. Maybe we will find out more as the story progresses.
I do wonder whether Charlotte's function may be somewhat similar to Miss Bates in 'Emma', and that in among all her apparently witless chatter she may be providing the reader with some useful snippets of information. I am not certain of this yet, but intend to keep an eye on Charlotte to see if this is the case.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.