Over the course of the third season of Outlander our heroine goes through more than one person should ever have to endure. But through it all, we see Claire’s aspirational journey from a young, grieving widow to an accomplished surgeon and mother. Keep reading for my list of Top 5 Defining Moments for Claire Randall-Fraser in season three.
5. Riot in The Slave Market
Claire has never been one to sit idly by and allow injustice to occur without standing up and doing something about it. It was never lost on her that slavery existed, but as a modern woman, she learned about it as a historical event — much the same as The Rising of ‘45. It is one thing to have knowledge, but something completely different to witness it. Even when she was dropped in the middle of 18th-century Scotland, Claire was not in a place where the slave trade was extremely prevalent, and therefore could put it to the back of her mind, and perhaps forget about it altogether.
However, when Jamie and Claire arrive in Jamaica, the slave trade is a booming industry, and our heroine is forced to witness it’s horrors up close and in person — a far cry from the history books that were her initial informant. These are the ancestors of her 20th century best friend, Joe Abernathy, and I’m sure it was with him in mind that her anger and horror reached a boiling point. Claire’s sense of right and wrong is something I find extremely admirable. She was willing to start a riot in the middle of a slave market to try and save one young man from a horrible fate, and that speaks volumes as to the kind of person she is!
4. Going to Medical School
Claire Randall found her calling over the course of her tenure as a nurse in the British Army during World War II, and since then could never imagine a path for herself in any other direction. Strangely enough, her trip back in time only strengthened that desire. Despite landing in a time far more strict in it’s ideas of gender roles than her previous life in the 20th century, she found a great deal of freedom in her identity as a “Sassenach”. Since she was already considered “other” by her new acquaintances, being a healer with strange medicinal techniques was something they found strange, but accepted because she didn’t fit into any stereotype of their culture. Having an open-minded and worldly husband, didn’t hurt matters either. Jamie always accepted Claire for what she was and respected her abilities, which gave her a great deal more leeway than most women in the 18th century.
When Claire returned to modern times, she arrived in a time that, for all it’s progression in science and technology, was still a very closed-minded society. In a lot of ways, Claire had less freedom because she fit into the 20th century constructs of what was expected of women, and she found the idea of being a house wife suffocating. So, she took a leap of faith and applied for Harvard Medical School. She had found her calling, and wouldn’t be sidelined by societal expectations and gender roles. And while, her decision was miles outside of what was considered “normal” for 20th century women, becoming a surgeon defined her path moving forward. She gained back a piece of herself that was lost when she returned through the stones, and at the same time, set an excellent example as a role model for her young daughter.
3. Return to Jamie
It’s what a lot of people consider to be the most romantic moment of the season: The Reunion. I must admit, I have a tendency to agree. But, I also think it’s extremely easy for people to forget the intense decision making that goes on before Claire’s return to the past. While she longs to return to Jamie, that self-fulfillment comes at a great sacrifice — leaving their daughter behind. Claire’s bravery is showcased in this moment. She is not only prepared to leave Bree, but also to put herself through the mental and physical turmoil of the stones all to go back to a time without modern luxuries to a man she is HOPING still loves her.
Claire’s heart is on the line, and with reassurances from Bree, she also realizes that the little girl she once held in her arms is no longer a child. Brianna can take care of herself now, and it’s time to stop putting her own potential happiness on hold. There are definite bumps along the way, but in the end Claire and Jamie end up becoming the “two that existed as one” that they once were, all because of Claire’s monumental leap of faith.
2. Frank’s Death
When the story of Outlander began, Claire and Frank were a happily married couple attempting to forge a stronger connection after several years apart during World War II — and then Jamie Fraser came into the mix, making Claire realize what true love of the soul mate variety felt like. The situation is made all the more heartbreaking by the realization that for Frank, Claire is his one and only, and despite the circumstances surrounding her return to the 20th century (i.e. three years later and pregnant with another man’s child) Frank takes Claire back almost without hesitation. In all reality, Claire owes Frank a lot. He was a loving father to Brianna despite the fact she was not his biological child, and he took Claire back, trying his level best to be a faithful and loving husband to her until their relationship was beyond repair.
Despite everything Frank has done for Claire, the facts of their deal upon her return are undeniable. Claire couldn’t look for Jamie — or “comb the libraries of the world” to even find a reference to the life they once led. But in season three, through a tragic accident, Claire is finally given her freedom. She held true to the bargain they struck for twenty long years, but when Frank dies, Claire is given and opportunity she never had before. As “All Debts Paid” concludes and she walks out of the hospital, she is clearly heart sick at the death of the man she called “husband”, but a weight has also lifted off of her shoulders. She no longer has to pretend to be something she’s not, and that is perhaps one of the most defining moments of the season for Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser.
1. Becoming A Mother
Last season we witnessed the devastating loss of Jamie and Claire’s first child, Faith — a circumstance made all the more gut-wrenching for the cataclysmic chain of events that unfolded in the aftermath of that particular story. After so long trying to have children with Frank, Claire was certain that was a door which would never be opened to her. Losing her daughter in a late-term miscarriage, seemed to reaffirm that notion, leaving a hole in Claire’s heart that I’m sure she thought would never heal. So, in the season two finale, when Jamie professed to Claire that he knew she was pregnant it was a bittersweet moment. The child they had longed for was on the way, but it came at a cost almost too high to bear — permanent separation in the hopes of keeping this child alive and well.
Brianna’s birth represented a new beginning, not only for Claire, but for Frank, and for their marriage. Having a child to love and cherish, gave Claire something to hold on to and fight for as she struggled over the loss of Jamie. For better or worse, being a mother inherently changed our leading lady. There was someone in her life now that was more important than anyone — even Jamie, and nothing would ever come at the cost of Bree’s safety and happiness. Claire would crawl over broken glass, even sacrificing her own beliefs and inclinations if it meant doing what was best for her daughter, a fact that we see illustrated in several episodes throughout the season including “Freedom and Whisky”, “All Debts Paid”, and “Eye of The Storm”.