Jamie Fraser is perhaps one of the most dynamic characters in the Gabaldon universe, and the theme of “identity” throughout the first half of season three highlights the many phases of Jamie’s life. We follow him from the desolation of Culloden through twenty formative years as he moulds to each new phase of his life: grieving widower, Jacobite prisoner, groom, father, printer, smuggler, and husband again. Keep reading for what I consider Jamie’s Top Five Defining Moments of Season Three.
5. Letting Claire go to The Porpoise
There’s a joke within the Outlander community that Claire never does what Jamie tells her to do, and seriously, if we had a nickel for every time that woman was supposed to “stay put” well… need I say more? But there is a flip side to that as well. Jamie is an 18th century man that is used to getting his way when it comes to women. It’s generally accepted in his time that women obey their husbands, and their husbands punish them if they don’t. It was a massive hurdle for them as newlyweds, and while Jamie and Claire have certainly made strides in their relationship, Jamie still has that stubborn streak of feeling he knows best throughout most of season two.
When Claire returns in season three, we see a shift in the way their relationship works. They are both older and wiser, but I think the moment where we see the biggest shift is when Jamie agrees to let Claire go to the Porpoise. He knows he can’t stop her, and although he wishes she wouldn’t, he allows her to make the decision for herself, recognizing she swore an oath to help others no matter the cost. This ability to adapt and change over time is one of the reasons the Frasers have such a long-lasting and loving relationship. After all, you can’t be married to a modern woman and try to smother her independent streak. I think he’s learned that doesn’t work very well (haha)!
4. Giving Fergus and Marsali His Blessing
Newly returned from England and longing for the company of his son, Jamie Fraser is lonely. He wants desperately to be a husband and a father, and just as he’s thinking he may never have that opportunity, Laoghaire MacKenzie MacKimmie falls into his lap. Despite the exploits of her younger years, she’s beautiful, a widow, the mother of two young girls, and crazy about Jamie (emphasis on the crazy part). Her mere presence offers JAMMF everything he’s ever wanted, even if the end result looks a tad different than he originally envisioned. Joan and Marsali are, by all intents and purposes, his daughters. He would live and die for them, and he holds himself responsible for their welfare. So, when Marsali absconds with Jamie’s adoptive son Fergus, you can imagine his concern.
Jamie loves Fergus, but he’s not exactly the type of man he hoped his daughter would marry. Because he lacks a hand, Fergus isn’t as capable of providing for Marsali and their future family as most eligible bachelors. The eighteenth century is a brutal place for handicapped individuals of any sort which isn’t lost on Jamie, but, I think the major factor for him is that he wants his children to know the same happiness with their spouse that he has with Claire. He simply doesn’t see that love and devotion from Marsali and Fergus. Over the course of the next few episodes, Jamie begins to understand more about the young couple, and realizes that despite their youth, they really do understand the meaning of love, and are willing to sacrifice everything to do what’s best for the other. So, with a deep breath and a silent prayer for protection against Laoghaire, he offers his blessing to the union of Jamie and Claire 2.0.
3. First Wife Kebbe Lebbe
One of the most traumatizing events in the lives of Jamie and Claire was their separation before the Battle of Culloden. Neither of them wanted to part, but for the sake of their unborn daughter, they new it was a necessary sacrifice. For twenty years, they suffered through gut wrenching grief and struggled to find some semblance of normalcy. This was especially true for Jamie who, separated from his wife and child, jumped from identity to identity doing his best to survive off of the few remnants of tenderness he gleaned over the years. A man of extreme pride and morality, there are parts of Jamie’s past he’s not entirely proud of, and I think the circumstances surrounding the birth of William and his marriage to Laoghaire both fall under that banner. Jamie was able to share the existence of his son with Claire–after all, neither his conception nor the death of Geneva were his fault.
On some level, Jamie probably felt ashamed of wanting more out of life life. He longed to be a father and a husband and feel the completion of that identify. He knew it once, and longed for that feeling again. Part of him also probably felt shame at not waiting for Claire to return. No one could ever replace her, and he knew that the last thing she would want to hear is that he had married the one woman she despised most in the world. I can’t blame the man for wanting to save himself the fight. To him, admitting he was wrong is akin to admitting defeat, and Jamie Fraser doesn’t do defeat (not well anyway *cough cough). Watching Jamie’s anger and emotion was a rare moment in “First Wife”. He is normally so calm and collected, that we forget he’s a human being. I think the argument with Claire is perhaps one of the most revealing scenes we get of our main characters in all of season three for that very reason.
2. Entrusting William to Lord John
When Claire returned through the stones, Jamie gave up all hope of being a father. It takes two to tango after all, and the last thing Jamie wanted was another wife. No one could ever hold a candle to Claire, after all. But you know what they say, “Man proposes and God disposes.” I don’t know about God, but Geneva Dunsany certainly had other ideas. With the birth of their son William, it was the dawning of a new era for Jamie. He could finally be a father, and revel in the joy of watching his child grow, and have some small impact on the person he would become–even if he couldn’t acknowledge his son as legitimate offspring, that didn’t lessen Jamie’s love and affection for the boy. So, when it became painfully obvious that he would have to leave, lest someone discover the boy’s true heritage, Jamie had to find someone trustworthy to look after William.
Cue Lord John Grey. I find John and Jamie’s relationship an unlikely one over the course of the series, but it’s also completely gratifying as a reader. Despite all of the hardships Jamie has faced at the hands of the redcoats, be it on the battlefield at Culloden, in the aftermath during the Duke of Cumberland’s pillaging of the Scottish Highlands, or in the bowels of Wentworth Prison at the hands of Black Jack Randall, Jamie has more cause than most to distrust anyone wearing the uniform of a British soldier. However, somehow, he finds it within himself to trust Lord John, a redcoat officer and homosexual, with the care of the one thing in this world that means the most to him–his son.
1. Surrendering to The Redcoats
Seven years of living in a cave is bound to come with its challenges. Granted JAMMF has lived rough as an outlaw before, but he lived most of that time within the safety of Leoch or abroad and out of the reach of the crown. The idea of being confined to the cold, damp, and unforgiving surroundings of a cave gives me the willies. Isolation from everyone and everything I hold dear would have been its own form of prison to me, but to be honest, Jamie may have preferred the solitude. His despair over Claire’s loss was almost too much for him to bear and keeping up any pretense of normality with that soul crushing grief on top of you would be suffocating.
However, there comes a time when enough is enough. Deep in the abyss of famine and post-war hostilities, the Murray family and the residents of the Broch Tuarach estate are struggling to survive. The British know Red Jamie is being hidden by Jenny and Ian and will stop at nothing until he’s in chains. Faced with an impossible decision, Jamie makes a choice that alters the course of his life forever. He surrenders to the crown and with a bit of two-faced trickery, secures the reward money for his family and ensures their financial security for the foreseeable future. Even at the risk of imprisonment and/or execution, Jamie puts his people first, making this a definitive moment for his character.
Check back in a few weeks for my next entry! Until then, Cheers!