- Bridgerton -So Why Doesn't Simon Want To Get Married In 'Bridgerton?'
Warning: Major Spoilers for Season 1 of Bridgerton ahead. When we first see Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, and Daphne Bridgerton together, it's more than apparent why they're the talk of Lady Whistledown's society papers. The pride, the prejudice, the sexual tension bursting at the seams of the button on her glove. Everyone can see it, especially Lady Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury, the twosome's mother figures.
Well my friends, what we have here is the case of the emotionally unavailable man, plagued by self-induced suffering that only he can smack himself out of (yet most of this ilk fail to do so). That is, unless you muster up some gumption like Simon finally does, by overcoming his prison of prideful toxic masculinity and emerging as a man who will actually let himself be happy instead of push joy away.
So let's investigate the root of Simon's cause of self-sabotage: the unresolved daddy issues.
When It Comes to Marriage, Simon Doesn't Know Her
Among the first things we learn about the most eligible bachelor of the ton are that he will never marry and never have children. He says so, his oldest friend Viscount Anthony Bridgerton remembers this factoid from their school days, and yet all the eager mamas seek to make him change his mind anyway... which is why he establishes his ruse with Daphne. To keep everyone at arm's length, even if that may mean a true love match.
Their entry into the long line of the fake dating-to-lovers trope fits perfectly for Simon's MO in life in the beginning — stay charming, sure, flirt his way through every town he rakes through, definitely, yet never fully commit and in turn, never get hurt. His tendency to keep his walls up is secured. This way, he can keep going his merry way alone and he can help Daphne find a desirable husband, too. Because as they both acknowledge, men always want toys they can't have, how romantic.
Would Rather Die Than Wed
But when Daphne and Simon can no longer contain their feelings for each other and Daphne's virtue is "compromised" in the garden, he and her brother Anthony seek to duel at dawn when Simon refuses to marry Daphne. As he would rather die than wed his friend's younger sister and take away her dream of having kids, he tells her he "cannot" give her children (but it's really rather that he will not).
Look, deciding not to marry and not to have children is a perfectly acceptable life choice that everyone can make for themselves. But as we'd come to see over the course of the series, Simon is really falling for Daphne and does everything he can to bury his feelings. He chooses to stiffen up and opts to throw away their shot at being together rather than be vulnerable and tell her the whole story. And not to mention, um, die. But why, Your Grace?
Tragic Backstory (Don't All Brooding Men Have One?)
Well, Simon's mother died during childbirth. She wanted a child, while his father, the Duke of Hastings, wanted an heir. He cared little for his son and verbally harassed him, punishing him for being fearful to speak when he correctly thought his father would only seek to rebuke him. The poor child.
He is sent away so his father would never have to see his face, and the Duke refuses to respond to any of Simon's letters of his progress at school relaying how he's growing into a fine young man, thanks to the tutelage of Lady Danbury. But really, as she insists, it's thanks to his own talent and capability she only helped him to discover for himself.
He knows how to read, write, fence, ride a horse, and is everything a future Duke should be. But painfully his father doesn't care. He expected an image of cold, icy perfection from the jump, one that no person with a beating human heart could possibly fulfill. It's no wonder why Simon loathes his father for refusing to show him in any way what unconditional love feels like, stunting his emotional growth and ability to open up to love for the rest of his life.
When Simon finally returns to see his father on his deathbed, he strikes the blow he knows will hurt his father the most, crushing his only form of superficial pride he has in the world. Simon vows to never wed or have children. "I will never sire an heir," he whispers into his father's ear, insisting this is the only vow he will ever make. "The Hastings line will die with me."
A Vow, Revenge, or a Protective Way to Maintain Control After a Life of Neglect?
But he does make another vow, as he ultimately joins Daphne at the marriage altar and they are announced husband and wife. And when he pleads with Queen Charlotte to grant them a marriage license to speed up their wedding date, his sincerity in admitting how he grew to love Daphne is as clear as crystal.
This vow of revenge against his father sours his and Daphne's honeymoon at Clyvedon rather quickly though, when she learns that not having children is not due to his lack of impotency. But rather it's a choice that he did not fully communicate to her before they were wed and one that wounds her deeply, and in turn, himself.
So, are we therapizing a man here? Yes, but for many of us, this is a requirement of our past relationships that can easily be transferable when we see the same patterns in fictional men who wallow. And unlike a reality far too often faced in the 21st century as opposed to 1813 Grosvenor Square, Lady Danbury isn't around to help these men see that they are in fact worthy of love and can accept the love of someone else. That they shouldn't allow "that young lady to slip through your fingers as if it were nothing." Instead, they can let their grudges and shoddy attempts at control go. Because once you do and understanding is found, that's when real happiness can begin, and what Simon finds within himself.
For as it turns out, Daphne's mother Lady Violet and Queen Charlotte were right: friendship is the strongest foundation for a marriage, and within each other, Daphne and Simon found their dearest friends. No matter how much he may have tried to deny it.
Bridgerton is now streaming on Netflix.