Portrayed by: Luke Thompson
Book | Show: Julia Quinn’s An Offer from a Gentleman and Netflix’s Bridgerton
Mr. Bridgerton. Number two. Benedict. The importance of saying his name is crucial to his arc and thus essential to understanding just how layered the character is. Julia Quinn‘s books are fantastic, and she is especially great at establishing tone and character, but with Benedict Bridgerton in the books, it’s easier to be frustrated with him more often than not.
Benedict Bridgerton is deeply flawed (as all men during the time), but his actions are easier to understand once his motives become apparent. Is that an excuse? Absolutely not. Nothing can ever be entirely excused when we’re aware of the faults, but circumstances can be understood, and establishing a complex character involves giving them growth. Benedict Bridgerton is complex, incredibly privileged, and lost.
But interestingly, for Benedict, it’s imperative to focus on the fact that in the books, he’s one of the quiet ones. The ones who can be forgotten at times. The ones who have all sorts of attention but never the enriching kind. The ones are always in between. The artists, the creative people that are almost always searching for something more… Benedict’s characterization dives into the indescribable turmoil of having a creative spirit and not pursuing it. The belief that perhaps if people knew what you loved, they’d see you differently. Artists were renowned and respected, sure—but from the beginning of time, pursuit of the arts was often met with criticism. There will always be people who deem writers, artists, and actors as lazy—such career choices will be met with “but that’s not a real job.” It’s the 21st-century, and we’ve all heard it. (If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “but what are you going to do with a degree in literature?” I wouldn’t need to work a day in my life.) And especially amongst a well-respected family with a title, Benedict’s fear is easier to understand.
Who is Benedict Bridgerton?
The book series gives us tiny moments that allude to who Benedict is, but blink, and you’ll miss it when he isn’t the central character. Blink, and you’ll miss it when he screws up so stupidly that it’s easy to disregard just how little he understands of his own privilege and thus his own inner demons. But even in the 21st-century, people fail to see their privilege. Expecting a 19th-century man to do so when that isn’t a prime topic of conversation is asking for too much. However, he eventually does. It’s a slow progression, but it happens over time and ultimately contributes to the fact that he never fully finds his place in high society. And he was never meant to.
Benedict is always searching, always wondering, but his misguided fears of disappointing his family and, thereby, never sharing his art with them leave the book version of his character with more inner frustrations. But through the glimpses we get, Benedict is the brother who’s often ready to listen—the reasonable one. (When his own heart and body aren’t in question, that is.) Benedict is the one to insist that Daphne should have a say in the duel is one example: “She deserves her say” (Chapter 9). In his book, An Offer from a Gentleman, there are clear signs of how well he knows his sisters, especially, Eloise. “I don’t think Eloise wants to marry” (Chapter 13). Considering how important this distinction is given the TV series and how Eloise behaves is a prominent detail alluding to his awareness when he’s quiet. And there’s a little glimpse of the promise he makes to help Hyacinth with her arithmetic. When Benedict isn’t in his own head, he’s fully present with his family. He might not have the responsibilities Anthony does, and he might not be as outgoing or as charming as Colin, but Benedict Bridgerton tries, which might be the thing that goes mostly unnoticed.
Anthony and Benedict are closer in age; therefore, they are naturally close to each other, but there’s still an issue within the entire family where the men, especially, don’t share their traumas. No one knows about Anthony’s fear of death (or his hesitations about love on the show), and no one knows about Benedict’s interest in art. And they also don’t know that consistently being number two can damage a person’s confidence, particularly when you’re the middle child, which would be Benedict between ABC. It’s no excuse, but it’s a reason. In comparison, Anthony’s demons stem from his responsibilities as the viscount, and Benedict’s stem from what’s almost like invisibility. When Sophie sees Benedict as he is, not as a Bridgerton first, but as a man in his own right, it opens up the possibility for him to look into himself as well.
That’s why sharing his art with Sophie, not the mystery woman in silver, feels right. That’s why, despite being an idiot who cannot understand the word “no,” he can’t stop pursuing her. No one’s seen him as he is, and finding himself in her soul in more ways than one, brought him to life. Additionally, no one has seen the real Sophie Beckett either, and when they see the authentic versions of each other, as dramatic as it sounds, all is well with their souls.
The thing with Benedict is that he finally gets it in the end. He knows he shouldn’t have pressed “the mistress” request, and he knows that it was wrong of him to ask for something that he would’ve felt uncomfortable giving if the roles were reversed. “I would die before sharing you. How could I ask you to do the same?” Benedict hears Sophie in the book, but he’s not really listening, which is derived entirely from both his desperation to be with her and the sincere belief that he’s doing something good for her. He didn’t save her from Cavender’s to risk something of the sort happening again, and thus when he coerces her to work for his mother, it’s arisen from the genuine belief that it’ll be better for her than any other route. And frankly, it is. If she had to work for any family as a lady’s maid, no one treats theirs better than the Bridgertons do—especially under Violet’s care.
Personal hot take: Sophie should have made him grovel more in the end. But we can’t blame her; she’d just been in prison, and a lot was going on in her own head. However, we know Benedict would have done so. Because in the end, we know that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her, societal rules be dammed—she is his everything. And that’s the very essence of his character. Benedict Bridgerton is a man who sees people as they are and accepts them as they are.
Thus far, how the TV series has handled his character is nothing short of perfect. Luke Thompson’s Benedict is the character I’d write an entire defense article for because this is the man who’s written between the lines throughout the book series. It will be gratifying to see how the series handles his pursuit of Sophie because we already know he isn’t interested in the ton. Benedict might meet Sophie at a ball, but she isn’t the average debutant by then—she’s a woman who knows the value of work. And the Benedict Bridgerton we know today is a man who values people who work for a living. His arc is fantastic as it allows him to practice art with a renowned artist (Henry Granville), bringing more realism to the fact that his work will one day hang in galleries. This backstory is incredibly enriching to who he is and how much his character will be shaped. He’s got a lot to learn, and as we watch it unfold, it’s that much more intriguing.
Benedict is a Bridgerton, and while they each value family tremendously, no matter how similar, no two are the same. The series’ decision to showcase just how frustrating the conventional life of titled people in society is for Benedict does a remarkable job of illuminating what matters for him—being good at something that requires work. Benedict’s interests don’t lie in balls and the opera but art houses and the countryside. And the series showcasing that there’s nothing wrong with this does a gorgeous job of paying homage to how creative people often work through their desires. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes, it isn’t effortless. Sometimes, it’s frustrating, but it always leads to something great when you continue fighting for what you want. Benedict doesn’t care where someone comes from or what they do to get by. Benedict cares about how they fight for it.
Wherever the series goes with Benedict’s character, it’s a straightforward setup that this man’s marriage will look different from the rest of his siblings. He is a man who tries to understand and a man who often refrains from judgment, for even when he doesn’t know, he’d rather find out for himself. Benedict isn’t without flaws, but he’s open and honorable. He’s kind but quick to critique at times. And as called out appropriately by Henry Granville, sometimes he’s all talk. But really, who isn’t? This trait makes him much more relatable because intent matters—fears play a part in people’s actions, and while he doesn’t care to judge, the ton does. Therefore, as a Bridgerton, the family’s name lingers, forcing them to carry themselves a certain way, both with love and fear. They don’t always want to, but they do. And perhaps with Benedict, his journey will require looking more into himself, who he is, what he wants, who he wants, and most importantly, why.
The soul of an artist is always longing for something more, and in the books, that longing is fulfilled through his pursuit of art and his love for Sophie. When he falls in love with her, quickly and beyond anything he’s ever felt, it makes sense for him. It makes sense because she’s what he had been searching for all along but never really believed he could find. And she’s the one he first begins sharing his work with. While the series has allowed his family to see him more, we know that it’s different with love. The choice to not only share his life with someone but to return the feeling through transparency and a safe place is where his heart’s often been geared towards.
The Gentle Spirit
His relationship with Eloise alone signifies that this man is willing to hear people out. If any of her other brothers caught her smoking, they wouldn’t join, they’d likely chastise her instead, but none of this matters to Benedict as much as meaningful conversations and time well spent. When he states that she’d have his full support and admiration if she were Whistledown, he means it. There’s nothing Benedict Bridgerton wouldn’t do for his brothers and sisters, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his mother even while he grumbles through it. And sometimes, he isn’t always going to be the nicest person—but where his intentions are concerned, they’re honorable. Benedict doesn’t and would never purposely harm someone unless he was defending someone else.
The way the series has handled the small but crucial detail of Benedict being someone who listens is ultimately promising of how his story will play out. The saturation in his complexities are so transparent that wherever writers choose to take his arc and how Thompson will bring Benedict’s layers to life will result in something extraordinary. Luke Thompson’s mannerisms as Benedict are, at present, astounding—his physicality and the sincerity he’s already bringing to the character are a considerable exhibition of just how much is within Benedict. It’s number two’s time to live his life, to have fun—to be as he chooses, but that number two’s name is essential, and one day, when it’s said with profound emphasis, all of this will come full circle beautifully.
Benedict Bridgerton still has ways to go, but we need to mention that he’s still trying. He is a man of poetry and a man who’s constantly willing to see what the world holds. While he doesn’t always have the right words, he tries, and we see a majority of that in how he’s the only person who asks Anthony how he’s doing when everything else is in shambles. Once at the wedding, then later after seeing Kate’s accident. He’s the only one who defends Colin being young, and he’s the only one who continues to know exactly what Eloise needs, whenever she needs it.
He’s there to steady them even while he doesn’t have all the answers or know how to deal with the situations appropriately. Benedict still tries when it seems as though everyone else has given up. And though it may seem as though he doesn’t meddle, the fascinating thing about Bridgerton Season 2 is that Benedict gives each of his siblings the agency to do whatever it is necessary to get through the circumstances they’re in. And that’s essentially what we see with his approach in Anthony’s situation; he knows what’s happening, but he doesn’t believe it’s in his place to tell his older brother directly what to do.
But what this season essentially explores best is Benedict’s imposter syndrome, which plays into the character we know in the books. The one who’s unable to do much because he doubts himself beyond anything else. And we see glimpses of it before his high adventure at Aubrey Hall before Anthony’s role in his acceptance plays an even more significant role.
As we had said in our review for “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” it bears repeating here: Benedict Bridgerton unsurprisingly takes the crown as the season’s MVP once again, providing us with both comic relief and the cold hard truths about imposter syndrome. (Sophie Beckett, come collect your man.) After learning that a hefty donation from Anthony essentially bought his position at the academy, he begins to question whether he belongs or not. And anyone who’s in the creative field could understand this struggle so closely that it calls many of us out.
Though we don’t all have viscount brothers sticking their necks out for us in their own misguided ways, the creative fields often push people to this bizarre place: Are we even good enough for this? Do we deserve the credit we are getting? And when one little thing feels like a defeat, it feels like our worlds are crashing down. We’re dramatic people. It’s in our blood. But what’s so intriguing about what this sets up for Benedict is that it allows us to see that though he doesn’t understand intimate heartbreak the way he could feel it in paintings, this leads to the healing that he will find in Sophie. She is his greatest muse, after all.
Many fans, myself included, have wondered how An Offer From A Gentleman could pan out on-screen if Benedict’s art is no longer a secret only Sophie knows, but this ending shows us that it’s merely just beginning. He might feel broken and defeated now, believing that he isn’t worthy despite Anthony affirming that he is and clarifying how much Benedict’s vision has helped him. But while he’s putting the paintbrushes away today, we know that he will pick them up soon, allowing himself moments of vulnerability to understand that within the creative field especially, our work is best when it’s personal.
He might be exceptional at life drawing, but when his art begins to reflect those he loves, his family, the places that mean the most to him, the feelings he tries to capture through colors as he does in “A Bee in Your Bonnet,” then that’s when Benedict’s will healing will come to pass as well. It’s in these moments where he’ll not only learn more about himself but all those he loves, broadening his eyes to the small details like the sly look in Francesca’s smile to the mischief in the very way Hyacinth holds her shoulders (An Offer From A Gentleman, 243).
We’ll expand on this deep dive more when Benedict Bridgerton returns in Season 3.