Writer’s Note: Sophie Beckett’s deep dive will be revisited in later seasons of Netflix’s Bridgerton as we add on content from the TV series. This article primarily covers Julia Quinn‘s An Offer from a Gentleman.
Sophie Beckett deserves the world. Maybe this is the first time you’re hearing her name; maybe you’ve been screaming this for months. Either way, the fact remains that she deserves the world, but more than that–she deserves your respect.
When you look at the lineup of Bridgerton heroines, it’s easy to see why they manage to find their perfect match and their happily ever after. These women are a rare breed of beauty, wit, and spirit, and each is different from the other. Yet there is one who seems to get left in the shadows, seemingly forgotten on the outside looking in (on par with her own story). If you’ve only watched the Netflix series, you haven’t met her yet. You haven’t had the chance. However, her arrival is imminent and I can’t wait for the world to fall in love with her, too.
Meet Sophie Beckett, the girl who never got to be Sophia Maria Gunningworth. That’s what her name would’ve been if she wasn’t an earl’s bastard daughter. After being dropped off by her grandmother, Sophie grew up in her birth father’s household. She was denied the love and affection a child needed. You think a stepmother and two stepsisters could fill that void? Think again. The cartoonishly evil Araminta strips Sophie of the dignity, the respect she deserves, and, frankly, a decent-sized dowry under the status of a ward. Forced to be a servant without proper pay, Sophie grew up disavowing her identity and did not believe she would be anything more. She was a bastard orphan who just wanted a family of her own.
She doesn’t get much out of her 20 years of life–until one magical night when she sneaks into a masquerade ball hosted by the Viscount and Viscountess Bridgerton. Though she wears a mask, she reveals what she has always been to the world that night: a radiant fairy princess. She glows, she sparkles–she’s a diamond among the elite. And if that weren’t enough, this lady in silver meets the man of her dreams, Benedict Bridgerton, who is completely enraptured by her from moment one. It’s the magical stuff you read about in fairytales. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love… girl runs away at midnight and boy spends time trying to find her.
Listen, I’m not here to recount her entire story; believe me, it’s well worth reading the book for yourself. But I wanted to give this background because it’s key to understand why she stands apart and deserves every good thing in this world.
Sophie Beckett, The Servant
Sophie Beckett should’ve had many things in life. She deserved a season in London. She deserved to be deemed the diamond of the first water. She deserved to be wooed and courted by the eligible bachelors of London. Unfortunately, she had that ripped from her. Sophie has lived outside of privilege, unlike her fellow Bridgerton heroines. She spent much of her life on the outside, looking in on what she should’ve had. She’s had to learn how to care for herself and her employers as well in order to keep a job. While Anthony and Daphne Bridgerton may never know how to light a stove, Sophie knows how to nurse a person back to health. She understands the real world more than her future in-laws ever will. Honestly, if there were a zombie outbreak in the regency era, Sophie Beckett is the one person I’d rely on in order to survive.
It’s interesting to note that in the Netflix series, Benedict has acquainted himself with those outside of polite society more than his siblings; in fact, he’s hooked up multiple times with Madame Delacroix, an independent entrepreneur in her own right. He is much more free to be around others who work for a living than the elite he’s been accustomed to. This is definitely setting him up for when he does meet his future wife, who has spent much of her life serving others.
Sophie, The Strong
Sophie’s magical night as the lady in silver comes crashing down when she leaves the ball without Benedict finding out who she is. What’s worse is her stepmother does find out about her night out and kicks her out. When Araminta tells Sophie to leave, it’s basically a death sentence. London in the 1800s was not a kind place to a young woman on her own, especially without money or connections. (This is during a time when women are treated like garbage and usually left to the slums.) Even when Sophie is later wrongfully locked away in jail, she at least had an idea of what would happen next.
Being alone in the world is too vast of an unknown. At 20 years old, she leaves the only life she’s ever known with nothing but a pair of shoe clips. This would be enough to break a person; yet, Sophie survives. Within two years, she leaves London and finds a new job in the country with a different family on her own. She sells her hair in order to make money. Sophie doesn’t wallow in her predicament, nor does she return to a toxic living situation; instead, she lets it go for the sake of her own survival.
Her resilient nature does not stop there. Benedict finally meets Sophie as a servant. He’s still in love with his lady in silver, but he can’t help but be drawn to Sophie. So when he propositions her to be his mistress, she turns him down; in fact, she turns him down multiple times. Don’t get it twisted: she loves him and will always love him. However, she vows not to let history repeat itself. She won’t become a mistress and let a child of hers suffer the same fate she did. So when Benedict discovers the truth about Sophie’s true identity, she doesn’t hesitate to pack up her things and leave. It takes a great deal of strength to walk away from the love of your life, and Sophie does it. Even when she comes to work for Violet Bridgerton and is actually treated like a human being, she is willing to walk away from the Bridgertons’ kindness. She’d rather face the unknown on her own again. If that’s not strength, then I don’t know what is.
Sophie, The Dreamer
Sophie and Benedict’s meeting is the magical, Cinderella-esque thing of dreams; they were wonderstruck and forever changed by this moment. But there’s a magic in the mundane of how they fall in love, and I think that’s the real magic of their story. Yes, they get this storybook meeting and serendipitously reunite later on, but the rest of the story is in their real world.
Sophie and Benedict are apart for two years. He doesn’t recognize her when they reunite, and she doesn’t tell him the truth. Sophie brings him back down to earth from his dreams of grandeur of having his cake and eating it, too; she’s the one trying to stick to societal boundaries in order to protect her heart. When she attempts to create walls while working for Violet, he’s the one trying to break them down. Externally, Sophie is the realist between the two of them; internally, she’s a romantic at heart, forever in love with Benedict. For instance, in her attempts to separate her feelings from him, she still gravitates towards reading silly romance novels at My Cottage and watches his afternoon dip in the lake. It’s a classic battle between the head and the heart that Sophie finds herself fighting in An Offer From a Gentlemen.
However, much they try to fight it, Benedict and Sophie are made for each other and are helpless to deny the drift towards one another. The odds do stack against them from a societal standpoint: in theory, Benedict would potentially marry someone outside his class, and Sophie would face the gossip of the ton. They love each other because they are able to see past what society defines them. Number Two and a servant are more than meets the eye; they see each other for who they really are, and the sky’s the limit. Across time and distance, they find each other. With Benedict, she’s found her anchor, her safe haven. Sophie is no longer set adrift nor alone in the world. Her dreams are not misplaced when they’re in his hands.
Sophie, The Relatable Heroine
Confession: I didn’t think I was going to like An Offer From a Gentleman. To be fair, I read the books out of order. I fell hard for Colin and Penelope’s story, and I enjoyed Kate and Anthony’s… I really didn’t see how it was going to be for Benedict. Typically I enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope, enemies-to-lovers, even fake dating/marriage. But I think deep down I want a fairytale, love at first sight, sparks fly, enchanted to meet you kind of love. It’s not realistic. It doesn’t just happen in life. It’s the stuff of dreams, and yet, I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame, and so is Sophie.
And therein lies the reason why I care so much about Sophie Beckett: I’m like her. I’m out here alone in the world, working to make my way while being apart from my family and hometown; unlike her, my parents are both alive and very loving, not abusive. Although there’s nothing I’d change about my current circumstances, I dream about that struck by lightning moment where I meet the man of my dreams. Despite the level-headed expectations I have for my life, here I am drawn to a silly romance novel that sparks something in me. I think she and her story spark that in a lot of people.
There’s nothing weak about dreaming for those kinds of love stories, with all its magic and mystery. Despite the obstacles that Benedict and Sophie face, love does find a way. And it’s ok that it wasn’t a gradual, known each other for a while type of thing. There’s love that can hit suddenly, and everything changes. It’s rare, it’s beautiful, and there’s a reason why audiences are drawn to it.
Sophie Beckett is not some weak damsel in distress. Life is aggressively cruel to Sophie, yet she’s a survivor who doesn’t give up on even the possibility of love. Her circumstances make it seem like romantic and familial love are some far-off fantasy, but as cheesy as this sounds… love finds a way. No, Sophie Beckett never got to be Sophia Maria Gunningworth. She gets to be something better: Sophie Bridgerton. Sophie Bridgerton deserves the world, and most of all–she deserves your respect.
What are your thoughts on Sophie Beckett? Are you looking forward to meeting her in a future season of Bridgerton?