Benedict Bridgerton: 1814’s Most Notable Artist and Poet
The second season of Bridgerton is filled with memorable moments from the Bridgertons, from Pall Mall in 2×03 to their own private family dance in 2×07; these scenes highlight the strength and camaraderie of this family. While Anthony Bridgerton has a few noteworthy scenes with different members of his family, this instance with Benedict from 2×02’s “Off to the Races” has gotten under my skin. So much so that I can’t seem to shake it because I know how much it will mean for the person behind the words.
Imagine you’re Benedict Bridgerton in 2×02. You’re at a new gentlemen’s club started by Will Mondrich. You’re making valuable connections with an artist you admire; not only that, he’s encouraging you to apply for the prestigious art school when in walks your eldest brother, steamrolling this networking opportunity. Suffice it to say, you’d also be annoyed, but you’re one of his best friends, so you drop everything to see what he needs.
Anthony is attempting to woo Edwina Sharma, this season’s diamond. He never received his invitation to a private party hosted by Lady Danbury, including a talent show. Of all the things Anthony tries to pick up as a last-minute skill is… poetry. Obviously, for a man consumed with duty, this is a foreign realm to Anthony, so he sought out the only sibling with an artistic bone in their body to teach him poetry.
To Anthony, reciting poetry is merely speaking lines back verbatim, treated with the same mundanity as reading items off a ledger or grocery list. However, poetry is more than just words on a page, written in a unique pattern; poetry communicates to the soul. It has breath, and it weaves together words in such a way that it speaks on a deeper level. That’s why it’s an art form, something you don’t typically pick up in the eleventh hour. Benedict is more interested in the visual arts, but even he understands the gravity that poetry possesses. Because of this, he proceeds to share this weighty insight with his brother:
“What is it to admire a woman? To look at her and feel inspiration. To delight in her beauty. So much so that all your defenses crumble that you would willingly take on any pain, any burden for her. To honor her being with your deeds and words. That is what the true poet describes.”
If it wasn’t clear before, it’s transparent here that there’s more to Benedict Bridgerton than meets the eye. Beneath his artistic pursuits and his devotion to his family is the soul of a poet. He has never known the joys of love or the pains of heartbreak, yet at the drop of a hat, he can speak on it with such perspective and sincerity. There is a hidden world in the second-born son that no one is really paying attention to–definitely not his eldest brother, trying to remember these lines Benedict just spoke, and definitely not his art academy peers later on, too focused on his privilege to let his art stand on its own.
Benedict rarely reveals his true self. Only a select few have gotten a glimpse of it: Eloise and Anthony. In fact, at the end of this scene, Anthony briefly acknowledges Benedict’s profound depth. It’s brief, only a glimpse of a man that feels more deeply than he lets on.
And credit where credit is due: this moment doesn’t work without Luke Thompson and the way he draws out Benedict’s vulnerability here. For the majority of the season, Thompson gets to let loose and have fun with more comedic scenes–Benedict’s “high” tea trip at Aubrey Hall lives in my head rent free. Because of this, it makes his more serious scenes stand out. Underneath the humor and the antics with his siblings, Benedict is looking for something that’s just his, and that’s how Thompson guides his performance throughout the season. In this scene in particular, there’s a gentleness in his delivery, not speeding through the dialogue; he lets the weight of these words linger. Each word he delivers feels like he’s opening up an oyster, letting you see the pearl that’s inside this man. It’s evident that Luke Thompson understands the assignment of bringing the hidden world of Benedict Bridgerton to the screen, playing the long game for his eventual turn as a future season’s lead.
What happens when you encounter a scene so profound? This is what I wrestled with after hearing these lines from Benedict. The temptation is to stay in the moment and not move beyond it. Why would you want to leave the comforting embrace of these romantic words? This is the real Benedict Bridgerton, the one that everyone else seems to miss. I don’t want to be like the rest of the ton who only sees him as Number Two; the spare should Anthony fail to bring a Bridgerton heir into the world. I want to give this moment its proper attention because it will be gone in an instant. But if you want to see how it all plays out, you have to leave the glow of such magnitude and move forward.
For now, Benedict doesn’t know the weight of his words are for himself yet. Here, he offers his insight to Anthony in order to impress Edwina and goes about his night. The flash of the real Benedict is gone as fast as it appeared. By the end of the season, his inspiration is gone. He loses his drive to pursue art once he learns the truth about his acceptance at the academy. His imposter syndrome is high, and the world has turned into a dull shade of gray. He’s not willing to tell Eloise the true measure of his disappointment. Anthony tries to encourage Benedict, expressing his admiration for his many talents, including art. It’s not enough to stop Benedict from packing up his art studio. He is now set adrift, waiting to find his anchor. Benedict won’t have to wait long–Season 3 will be centered on him, the one who’s usually overlooked.
For book readers, we know this is just a preview of what’s to come. In this brief moment early in Season 2, it foreshadows exactly what Benedict will experience when he finds the love of his life. It won’t be like his siblings, Daphne and Anthony, so far.
No, when he sees her for the first time, the dull grays of his life will melt away, bringing color back in; he will bask in her beauty, and his walls will come down instantly. Their story will be the stuff of legend, one where he’s willing to risk it all for her because he got to have this life-changing experience in her presence. The woman who captures his heart will be able to see him– the man who’s more than just the Bridgerton name.
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix. What are your thoughts on Benedict teaching Anthony poetry? Let us know in the comments below.