Regé-Jean Page’s immaculate portrayal of Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings and his pristine foreplay with a spoon has been etched into the minds of 82 million viewers for a very long time. This regency era drama filled with sex and scandals has easily become a hit across the world and has launched Simon and Daphne’s relationship into the list of the most iconic relationships seen on TV. But as Violet Bridgerton says “Reformed rakes make the best husbands”, is Simon a modern-day Darcy or just a complete rake?
From his refusal to sire a child to spite his father’s obsession with having the perfect lineage to being the King of Consent on TV, Simon’s story has been nothing short of a rollercoaster. He is introduced with an iron-clad desire to not marry and disregard for the ton’s mothers but also with sound morals, primarily exhibited when he is verbally attacked by Lord Berbrooke in context to Daphne’s chastity. But the big question is that is his repetitive declaration to not marry and have children yet lead Daphne on, a demonstration of his truthfulness or a display of his rakeness which was something that was a primary reason why Anthony did not approve of their fake (not-so-fake) courtship. Simon’s rakeness was also on display when he did not tell Daphne in clear words that he chose to not bear a child rather than his incapability to do so which also lead to a two-episode long fight between the lead characters. Some argue that it was a lack in communication between the two instead of his rakeness and it was because he did not want to give Daphne any false hopes of having a relationship, that his desire was mentioned time and again. It can also be said that just like Darcy, Simon’s thoughts were also ahead of their time especially when he refused to take any dowry to marry Daphne and just like Darcy, was inclined the most towards a feminist who knew how to stand her ground and make her own decisions rather than being a pushover by the men in her family.
Unlike Darcy and Lizzie, Simon and Daphne’s relationship highlights a toxic notion that a woman can change a man. What differentiates Darcy and Lizzy’s relationship is that Darcy chooses to mend his ways irrespective of whether Lizzy accepts him or not whereas Bridgerton shows that Daphne is able to convince Simon to marry and have children through conveniently occurring situations and long speeches. The beginning of their romance begins with a toxic base of them being on different pages on important life decisions. If Simon truly as noble as he is portrayed to be, he would have left London and maintained more than adequate distance from Daphne at the remainder of balls but instead chooses to follow her into the garden, knowing well enough that a woman of that time should not be with a man alone in a garden.
Verdict: While “I burn for you” could never be “You have bewitched me in body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you”, it can be said that Simon’s character draws itself from the very iconic Mr Darcy and is not a complete rake but to become a modern-day Mr Darcy, Simon Bassett has a long road to cover. Hopefully, we will see more of his character’s development in season 2.
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