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Scene of domestic violence and reconciliation 

These two scenes are a turning point in the work and the series.

 

For Claire¸ it is an opportunity to question her feelings¸ between her growing attachment for Jamie and the imperative to set limits, to finally understand what it means to live in the 18th century with a man of the 18th century, whom the handsome Adonis who makes love to her so well is a boor promising a marriage under the sign of his strict authority with the threat of being beaten in case of disobedience. For Jamie, it is the realization that he risks losing the one he loves, between the man he is and the one he will become.

 

Very often¸ the series is faithful to the novels. But here¸ these two scenes do not share the same narrative or the same moral significance depending on whether it is the book or the series. The series ignores the accumulated bruises of the two protagonists and the explanations that flow from it¸ sweeping the essential of the introspective path that will lead to reconciliation.

 

In the first place¸ the filmed version offers a standardized version of the punishment of a husband inflicted on his wife where the book throws a much harsher light.

 

Let us recall, for the understanding of the sequence of events, that the scene where Claire is beaten is preceded by a verbal and already physical tension between the two characters after Claire's rescue. Emotionally intense, the argument unleashes the explosion of feelings at their peak, anger, frustration, fear and mutual misunderstanding.

Why I (clearly) preferred the book to the series  

  

By Fany Alice  

 

Book 1 / Season 1 Episode 9  

Already, dissonances between the book and the series are emerging. Claire is shaken violently by Jamie, leaving blue marks on her shoulders, which the series does not show. Instead, it features Claire slapping the man who just saved her life (in the book, she attempts a kick, dodged by Jamie). Physically dominated in the book, she passes for ungrateful in the series and we remember her aggressiveness all the more because it is Jamie who expresses the first¸ in the book as in the series¸ a touching vulnerability that moves Claire¸ expressing fear that he felt at the idea of ​​losing her and the risks involved, forgiving her disobedience.

 

Knowing the choice of the writers to make before all pass the corporal punishment for an act of justice¸ we underestimate the central point in filigree since the attempted rape by the English deserter: Claire is a victim of male violence which is linked relentlessly to each other after the others in a matter of days - English deserter, Randall, clans and most of all, Jamie¸ the man she will not find solace inissant instead suffering physical violence and a sense of betrayal.

The scene where Claire is beaten by Jamie is therefore a culture shock that the reader of the 21st century shares with the Claire of 1945. Until then. Jamie offered the vision of a man appreciating the modernity of his wife both in bed, in the expression of his desire, only in his medical skills and his frank attitude. A woman like there is none in her world. With this scene¸ we discover Jamie as a man of the 18th century and it is the first time in the novel that the 200 years that separate them are expressed¸ in a brutal rupture.

 

The scene itself, as well as the reconciliation stage, is filmed from Jamie's perspective. This perspective, focused on him, tends to minimize¸ or even obscure¸ what Claire feels. Certainly¸ the objective of the filmmakers is to show that it is no longer the story of Claire but of Claire and Jamie. But in doing so¸ they weaken the legitimate anger that one may have towards him. Claire's feelings are simplified - anger then cold indifference - and take a back seat as we focus on the justifications for Jamie's gesture during the scene and then on his torments as a distraught man not knowing how to come to terms with him. his wife.

 

Slowly but surely¸ we help the viewer shift their empathy from Claire to Jamie.

 

Thus¸ the voice-over is for the first time that of Jamie and the staging takes the turn of a vaudeville when a playful music and rhythmic movements between Jamie and Claire give the illusion of a game without gravity. The act itself is partly presented but with an eroticization of what should not be. The scene is interspersed with shots of the men of the clan with one of them declaring: “one wonders who is punishing whom” ¸ giving credence to the false idea of ​​a not so dramatic equal fight. In the end, men's taunts further strengthen Jamie's point of view as much as they isolate Claire.

 

Besides Jamie talks a lot¸ tirelessly and pedagogically repeating the reasons for his gesture in order to convince Claire as much as the viewer: it is a question of justice¸ Jamie would have forgiven but he is constrained by the clan; him¸ the proscribed and wanted man cannot abandon the protection of the clan any more than he can take the risk of depriving Claire of it. In other words - if Jamie doesn't punish her - the men of the clan will do it more violently and publicly. We almost want to thank Jamie for sparing his wife a cruel punishment¸ brave boy prisoner in spite of himself in clan customs¸ faced the next day with the hostile reaction of a wife who would almost give the impression of overreacting!

 

However, Jamie's argument is only partly true. Claire is not only treated as a man would be under clan laws. It is also an act of justice which is part of the conjugal submission expected of a woman towards her husband. Jamie is not being punished for taking them out of the group's protection to frolic in the Scottish moor on the way to English deserters. The husband does not take responsibility for his faults, only the wife pays the price. It is therefore an asymmetrical justice and Claire is fully aware of it in her revolt as in her approach to establish their relationship in an egalitarian mode.

 

The book remains from Claire's point of view during the domestic violence scene as well as during reconciliation. If we hear Jamie's justifications for doing his duty¸ we also perceive Claire's fear of Jamie's muscular build and his strong sense of betrayal. Worse¸ we learn what the series ignores¸ that Jamie is ready to stick to twelve shots if Claire does not resist. But if she resists, she will suffer much more. In a chilling sentence¸ we therefore understand that Claire was severely beaten.

 

In the English version, the terms are "beaten within an inch of my life", "I beat you half to death": literally beaten to death. And Jamie has some despicable words that caused him to lose readers along the way: How can a man promise the one he loves to beat her until her arm weakens? How can a man who has been beaten to death himself use such words?

So these are questions that the series has dodged and only the long exchange on the way back to Leoch will provide the answers. No doubt it is a question of oratorical exaggerations, in the feelings of Claire as in the real intentions of Jamie (We know the sanguine temperament of Jamie whose words exceed the thought). Claire did not pass out and if Jamie had wanted to kill her he would have had no problem with that. But she will nevertheless arrive exhausted at Leoch castle three days later, carried by Jamie (we will note the symbolism of the carried of the young bride in these unromantic circumstances), at the end of trying crossings on horseback, and not head. high and determined as in the series: on the contrary, great physical and emotional fragility, in a game less frozen than in the series, more nuanced, 

 

The day after the scene¸ the series remains very evasive about Claire's physical pain. At most¸ while she endures the sarcasm of the men of the clan¸ we discover that it is difficult for her to sit down. But we immediately find her in the saddle for several hours of galloping back to Leoch's castle then sitting at her dressing table. Indeed¸ there is nothing dramatic ... 

 

 

In the book¸ the men of the clan are themselves astonished by the cries of the day before: “It looked like he was slaughtering you (…) You didn't need to miss killing your poor wife, a nice little spanking would have been enough ”. Before taking the way back Claire will suffer from hands to buttocks and other jokes from the men of the clan. Jamie not only physically injured and betrayed her¸ he also drastically damaged her social standing within the clan as he cemented his own. Of course, all this will only be temporary, these Scots being also capable of frank humanity under the harshness of their appearance. 

Then come the stages of reconciliation.

 

In the book, we always stay on the narrative side of Claire¸ in empathy with her¸ and Jamie continues to be largely portrayed without complacency. After such a painting of the cultural abyss that opposes Jamie to Claire¸, we cannot avoid a frank conversation, a choice that the series did not retain; As for Jamie's final oath not to raise his hand on Claire again, it doesn't have the same symbolic significance in the book as in the film.

 

From the start of the episode¸ the show's bias has been not to overwhelm Jamie too much thanks to the narrative process but also by obscuring certain elements of the reconciliation process that are hardly favorable to him, when others are there but presented in a complacent light. But in both cases these key elements present him as he is: a man of his time.

 

In the series¸ Jamie explains to Claire that a woman obeys her husband if not¸ he punishes her; but that this rule will no longer govern his relationship with Claire. But is he still morally convinced that what he has done is wrong? In the series, we are tempted to believe it. Not in the book. Because the book brings an additional dimension¸ namely that the love¸ which is there without being confessed¸ allows each one to obtain from the other what is essential to him without giving up what he is: for Claire, an egalitarian relationship ¸ for Jamie, a woman who cares about him.

 

They both hurt each other a lot with their guns. Jamie's suffering is nevertheless reduced in the series to a disarray to find the path to reconciliation with Claire. While being palpable in the novel, it is much deeper and goes back to the very conditions of the rescue. The stages of reconciliation described in the book say much more about the emotional overflow that has found a tragic outlet in physical violence.

 

These stages take place on the way back to Leoch Castle which will take two days. Tired of the pain on horseback Claire gives in and announces that she is continuing on foot. Jamie accompanies him. There followed two moments of introspection ignored by the series.

 

The first casts us coldly into the darkness of patriarchal authority. Jamie shows him¸ with his own cultural background¸ that he recognizes Claire's physical suffering¸ seeks to share it¸ by lightening his burden¸ by telling him the story of his own pain and humiliations through the corrections inflicted by his father¸ or a third person¸ until a late age and in public.

 

Unless you consider that beating a child is an act of justice and that a woman is a perpetual minor¸ a contemporary of the 21st century can only feel a deep unease in front of this unhealthy continuity between violence against children and violence against women. Jamie¸ a man of his day… and somewhat repulsive. A first step will nevertheless be taken: “I rarely lose my temper and generally I regret it when it happens. This I thought was probably the closest statement to an apology he would give me ”.

 

Then Jamie continues his introspection by giving Claire an intimate and secret part of him that he has never spoken of. Moment of intense vulnerability where painful memories are there to probe Claire's attachment to her (he is not wrong to doubt it since she was running away to find Frank).

 

Prisoner of Randall¸, the latter offered to spare him another session of lashes if he agreed to submit sexually to him. He refused and his father died of a heart attack during the flogging¸ leaving one Jamie with a tormented conscience of what would have happened if he had made another choice: "You have a right to know what there is between him and me ”.

 

This story will appear later in the series but the fact that he intervenes at that time gives it a very special meaning: there was also a personal motivation to punish Claire and not the only pressure of the clan: "If I had was the only one involved in this story¸ I'd be willing to let it go. Even though… (…) I thought I would die seeing this animal put its hands on you, ”he told her the evening when he whipped her with his belt.

In the book, Claire threatens Jamie to kill him if he raises his hand on her again. And Jamie takes an oath dagger on the heart¸ to give it up for good. The series reverses the chronological order and everything is much more confused. Jamie takes the oath¸ Claire hesitates¸ and when he asks her if she doesn't want him anymore¸ she gives in. It is she who takes the initiative to touch him again and¸ in the middle of the sexual act¸ it is a Claire astride Jamie who threatens him with a knife under his throat. Forgiveness and reconciliation are combined in the same sexual drive which becomes its driving force instead of being its ultimate expression, once the differences have been ironed out.

 

However, it is important that Claire first forgives out of empathy, in recognition of Jamie¸'s trauma because he doubts Claire's feelings, and not because she is sexually dependent; then, that she accepts a marital reconciliation only when he solemnly accedes to her request not to raise his hand on her.

 

Instead of focusing on sexual alchemy alone, the book emphasizes above all the alchemy of hearts through dialogue. This is a crucial point which shows that the intimacy of a couple can not be based only on sexual understanding but also on the open confrontation of points of view towards an acceptable compromise.

 

So, what scope should Jamie's oath be given? He is a man of his word. No doubt a contemporary woman would be right to be wary of such masculine promises. But the decried XVIIIth century is also steeped in honor and loyalty and Jamie, a man of his time, is a sincere incarnation of this. Each, a step towards the other to meet in the middle of the path: the oath offered to Claire and the compassion offered to Jamie. She cares about him… He doesn't want to lose her. Both protected by the same increasingly unconditional outburst of love that recognizes the other without giving up on oneself.

 

The series suggests that the threat Claire utters protects her more than the oath and that she does not feel truly safe until this precise moment of domination. Yet seeing an 18th century man obey his wife's request with an oath worthy of the one made to his Laird, is a daring and intense act which the series should not have missed.

 

And when the memory of that evening of violence resurfaces more than twenty years later¸ there will be no ambiguity in the book about what wins¸ the threat or the oath: "I never did it again (... ) I promised¸ didn't I? (…) Only because I threatened to tear your heart out if you raised your hand to me again. Maybe but… I could have… you know that. (…) The most annoying¸ is that he was telling the truth¸ I only knew too well. (…) If he decided to do it again ¸ I absolutely could not prevent it. (…). I can do it. You know it very well. ".

 

He can but will not do it anymore. Claire will have the opportunity to test the strength of her oath in subsequent quarrels with bruised egos. Even when she herself appeals to her violence¸ morally guilty after the episode with the King of France¸ he will refuse to do so. This is to say if Claire now integrates corporal punishment in the conjugal domain, as did the 18th century¸ in expiation of the pride of a wounded male. It is to say if Jamie is entirely in his fidelity body and soul to his wife. At that point, Jamie and Claire each truly stepped into each other's world. D.

 

Final stage, present in the book but obscured in the series: the dispute in the bridal chamber and the consent definitively sealed in the alliance offered by Jamie.

 

In the book, the temporality between the oath and the sex scene is not the same. Two days pass between these two moments. A lively exchange takes place at Leoch Castle. It's an emotional gem about consent, full commitment to each other, and the key to their future relationships through that panting lockdown in the castle bedroom. It is also the moment when their conceptions of marriage get in tune.

 

Although exhausted, Claire ruminates on her jealousy towards Loghaire when Jamie is away momentarily. On her return, she feigns indifference, declaring to accept her supposed infidelities in the name of the arranged nature of their marriage. A nice argument ensues with an outraged Jamie as her vows of fidelity are so sacred to her, and after being beaten two days earlier, Claire is now expected to suffer marital rape (By the way, an interesting hierarchy of values ​​at Jamie: it's okay to beat your wife, not give up your vows).

 

From there, the de-escalation is as intense as the argument because it brings to light a trait of Jamie's personality that emerged during the tragic tale that earned him Claire's forgiveness: his vital need to be. esteemed by her. And beyond esteem, the expectation of being loved. This scene is therefore central, it shows a Jamie who was asserting, a few minutes earlier - and the evening of domestic violence - his conception of marriage based on authority and obedience, now claiming Claire's consent, offering her the choice to leave instead of imposing, by force if necessary, what the XVIIIth century grants it by right. As for the alliance accepted by Claire, it closes the arranged marriage by providing the consent that she lacked.

 

The sex scene then appears in the book after two days of intense and necessary discussions. It closes the long chapter of accumulated misunderstandings and resentments, it is much more than a scene of reconciliation: it is the first scene where the feeling of love is shared by Claire and where Jamie explains to her that he does not exist without her. Unattached young man who has no right to be himself, pawn in the political quarrels of his uncles, prey for Randall, Laird who cannot be. In Claire's eyes, he can hope to exist for what he is and draw his strength, but only if she considers him and cares for him, if she is ardent in a desire that is both an invitation and a desire. capitulation, a demand and an abandonment towards an unlimited pleasure which fills him and which he offers him in return. There is no place for sexual or disciplinary violence in this romantic pattern. He possesses her, by desire and not by constraint, she also possesses it, by maintained dependence, in perfect symmetry.

 

It is therefore a brutal scene where each one seeks to possess the other, at the frontiers between pain and pleasure. A bookish story that may have shocked, some seeing it as a legitimation of "no means yes" where the subtle writing of D. Gabaldon explores the torrid balance between the mind that balks and the body that hopes, in the confident excitement of to rely totally on the other in the discovery of new sensations. The series remains modest¸ chooses the facility in a demonstrative staging only timidly taking the daring path of consent in this very special relationship of possession of bodies and souls.

Here, the "still that" takes on its full meaning: it is all the rage accumulated by Jamie who fell on his wife whom he judges guilty: guilty of having rekindled his wounds at the scene of his martyrdom. to have put himself in the hands of the one who populates his nightmares¸ guilty of lacking gratitude and then of expressing a frank resistance to a punishment deemed deserved. Jamie punished Claire for placing him at the mercy of an enemy once again ready to take away what is dear to him - now his wife - once the virtue of his sister (whom he believes to have been raped) and the life of his father (for which he bears the guilt); for his near indifference to the fear and the pain that were his during the rescue¸ all tense over his failed escape. Traumatic ordeal for Jamie¸ as much emotional as physical, where the courage to face his enemy was coupled with the rage to discover a wife so unaffected by the fact that he could have lost his life there. Admittedly¸ he would not have beaten her without the pressure of the clan but once the ban is lifted¸ he is not only a forced intermediary, contrary to the bias of the series.

 

If the series missed this rage and the reasons that triggered it the book does not spare the reader: it is incisive¸, intense and rough.

 

The stakes are high: at this moment in their history¸ we understand that they are wondering about the feelings of the other. No one is certain of the other¸ both fearing that friendship and then their sexual passion are the only expressions of a marriage doomed to be only a contract of interest. Jamie wonders if her life has a price for Claire as she grieves to believe that it was the sole desire not to be a virgin and to touch the Mac Kenzie rents that led him to the marriage.

 

In the immediate future - no doubt Jamie had a presentiment that exposing a personal trauma and her vulnerability to Claire the caregiver - always devoted to saving bodies and souls - would facilitate his forgiveness. Because Claire understands and forgives her gesture.

 

From there, we find elements common to the book and the series but treated very differently.

 

Because understanding and forgiving does not mean tolerating the act to happen again. And Claire knows how to carefully balance her forgiveness: “what I cannot forgive you (…) is that you had fun there! ". Then follows a self-justification of Jamie who cancels the renewed empathy that the last moments had been able to revive: "If I had fun (...)? And how ! You can't imagine how much I liked it. You were so… pretty. (…) Yes¸ yes¸ I enjoyed it. You should thank me for holding back. (…) Yes¸ I thought it wouldn't be fair to take you by force even if I was dying to (…). "

 

Faced with Claire's anger: “I see that I was wrong to broach the subject. All I wanted¸ was to ask you if you would let me share your bed again ”. These words are well treated in the series but the choice of the staging is such that it completely water down the unpleasant scope which ce by way of consequence¸ also aims to pursue the objective of not harming Jamie wore it.

 

Indeed¸ in the series¸ Claire addresses an end of inadmissibility to Jamie when¸ the following night¸ he begins to undress, thinking of joining Claire already in bed. A pout half annoyed half distraught softens the face of a lost Jamie. He yields. But where the series offers the uplifting image of a husband who is morally aware that he cannot and should not force sex on an injured wife - the book instead puts the unhealthy emphasis on the age-old right of marriage. on his wife and of which he sheds himself as a favor which he grants to Claire.

 

Likewise¸ the allusion to the pleasure felt by Jamie while beating Claire is dealt with¸ in the series¸ after the reconciliation sex scene moment in a moment of playful tenderness¸ when Claire explains to him the meaning of the word "sadistic" and that he nods with a mischievous smile. In the book, D. Gabaldon spares nothing¸ neither Jamie¸ nor the reader: the words he makes show starkly a sexualization of violence assumed on women.

 

So¸ both by the obscured elements and by the treatment of those who are taken back¸ the series sums up Jamie's thoughts without taking the time to show their complexity or perversity.

 

Comes Jamie's oath not to raise his hand again on Claire and that seals the resumption of their marital relationship in renegotiated terms.

So, in the book, Jamie is once again amiable but without ignoring the thought pattern of which he is the product and which is much less so; nor on the fragility of a female condition in the 18th century entirely dependent on male goodwill. This is all the peculiarity and grandeur of an anachronistic oath that honors Jamie, aware that he may lose Claire permanently if violence interferes with her marriage.

 

Soon completely reassured about the love she has for him, when Claire officially chooses him for Frank, Jamie will also stop his childish threats to take her by force with each argument, an admission of desperate weakness of not yet possessing his heart when he does. has already offered up his soul since day one. The book subtly portrays Jamie's ambivalence, both hurtful and hurtful, prone to brutal domination over Claire but not attempting anything without consent of flesh and heart. Until soon offering him the choice that the English soldiers did not leave him during his abortive flight.

 

Without losing any of their loving ardor, in a climate of frankness and absolute trust, they will be aware that they are only completely complete with the other. Jamie will not give up here or there chauvinistic postures or remarks, her desire to beat her, nor will she give up insults, slaps and scratches, but it will take place within tacitly shared limits, where what is essential to the 'one cohabits with the point of view of the other, often in the safety of an embrace, like a choreography expected to always more excite their mutual desire. Their arguments will find each time the path of reconciliation in the possession of the other, in the sexual arousal stimulated by their mutual anger.

 

And their relationship will be like no other. If Claire had ever succeeded in enforcing sexual equality in shared pleasure¸ she had not yet succeeded in being Jamie's equal in day-to-day decisions. From now on, they will form a team and take responsibility for both successes and failures together.

 

What D. Gabaldon's writing brings to the series¸ is to show that we can accommodate the request of the other without giving up on ourselves¸ that no couple is harmonious from the start and that he can grow from his differences.

 

For Jamie, it's time to make an act of independence from his clan and Loghaire, to turn the page on obedient youth and immature lovebirds to enter adulthood where he assumes his own. moral code and his love for the one who now comes first. Dougal's murder will be the final expression.

 

For Claire, it's time to set limits¸ of sentimental honesty and conflicting emotions¸ of the recognition that she may have lost Jamie in Fort William and that she may still lose him in Loghaire's arms if she returns to the twentieth century¸ of her love quite simply, which she can no longer flee.

 

Our age hungry for simplifications and comfortable diagrams would arguably have preferred a Jamie confessing that Claire didn't deserve to be beaten (he will persist in his opinion after the reconciliation sex scene, only expressing regret when he will know the real reason for Claire's disobedience) or that he no longer believes in corporal punishment. He will use it later on Fergus¸ on William, on his nephew and on himself but the series prefers to ignore this ordinary violence, artificially transforming Jamie into what he is not. Yet the fact that he indulges in it, even sometimes reluctantly, further underlines the singularity and exceptionality of his relationship with Claire in what he is ready to give up, for her, and for her alone.

 

Because it is neither a societal injunction¸ nor a moral adhesion to our modernity¸ nor the conviction of having committed a fault that redeems Jamie. He does not take an oath because he knows he is wrong. He takes an oath in the name of his love for Claire, a love without which he does not exist. And finally, is it not morally much more demanding and admirable to strip oneself of one's rights inherited from one's peers / fathers out of love for the other than by authentic conversion to one's point of view? No character needs

 

to be perfect so that one becomes attached to him. It is his quest for perfection, in clumsiness and contradiction, that makes him credible and gives a price to his renouncements.

 

The book is therefore both fairer in the emotional realism it offers and more honest in the moral ambiguity that it retains through the personal journey of a Jamie who¸ without departing from his secular beliefs¸ refuses to apply them for love.

For those who wish, you can download the PDF of the excerpts from the book concerned.

Gratianne Garçia wanted to extend the reflection following this text. You can discover his text:  A couple in the making   

Gratianne Garçia wanted to extend the reflection following this text. You can discover his text:  A couple in the making