penelope bridgerton writing at her desk

Penelope’s Journey as Lady Whistledown Is One We All Can Learn From

Season 3 of Bridgerton put Lady Whistledown’s identity in jeopardy. The more people found out Penelope Featherington’s secret, the more she had to come to terms with the fact that Whistledown maybe wasn’t for the best.

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Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) started writing as Lady Whistledown to have a voice for herself. She felt like she was trapped in a society that wouldn’t let her voice her opinions and sharing the darker bits of drama about the marriage mart was her way of expressing who she was. The reality is that even when Penelope wasn’t writing as Lady Whistledown, she still had personality in her letters, a point that Colin (Luke Newton) makes to her by the end of season 3.

But what makes Penelope’s journey as Whistledown in season 3 so perfect comes from Penelope’s own acceptance of herself. In the end, when she could continue to hide her true identity, Penelope realizes that the only way she can be free and speak her mind is if she tells the world herself that she is Lady Whistledown. Not because Cressida (Jessica Marsden) forces her to and not because Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) figures it out.

Penelope needed to do it on her own terms and watching her come around to this decision is what made season 3 my favorite.

Whistledown was created out of a lack of freedom. Penelope felt trapped and Whistledown was her release. She couldn’t be forced to give that up because it would go against everything that Whistledown stood for for Penelope. Instead, she had to decide on her own when it was time to tell her truth and what was got was a beautiful new Penelope out of it all.

She needed to find that part of herself

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington at home in Bridgerton Season 3

Colin tries to reason with Penelope to convince her to stop writing the column. What he doesn’t understand in that is that the choice isn’t up to him and even more, if she did give up this part of herself just because her new husband asked her to, it wouldn’t bode well for them in the future. Instead, Penelope sees reason on her own and knows that with the love she’s now felt, she can open up to society and tell them the truth.

I loved Penelope’s speech at the ball. She wrote a letter to the queen detailing her truth and was given the chance to explain and she did so in a way that gave everyone a glimpse into the why of it all. But the part that felt the most personal was that it was Penelope’s choice and that she got to share with them what Whistledown meant to her.

I found it relatable and refreshing to see a woman stick to her guns and refuse to give up something that meant a lot to her just because the man she loves told her to do it. Granted, Colin wasn’t going to scream or shout at her about it but it was still a request he made. But Penelope did what was best for her and that’s what makes the ending so special.

Queen Charlotte allows for the column to continue but Penelope does so in her own name. Both she and Colin are now writers as they raise their family together, happily and in love. That is something I very much relate to and want in my own life.

At the end of it all, Penelope did what she needed and I think that’s a lesson we can all be reminded of.

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.