This post contains potential spoilers if you are not caught up with the Outlander television series.
“Wherever you are, James Fraser, I will find you.”
These are the last words Claire Fraser, played by Caitriona Balfe, says with quiet determination during a trailer for Outlander Season 3, which premiered on Sunday. Those words are poignant and utterly romantic, and Claire’s agency as a female character is inspiring. Those who follow the Outlander television or book series are already aware of the strong and modern characterization of Claire.
She fights for what she believes in, protects those she loves, and has saved her husband, Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan), countless times throughout the series.
Not to discredit Jamie’s actions and character in any way, but Claire is particularly empowered in a way that is innate.
She can travel back in time, and as a result, has the foresight to suggest methods for survival and warn those around her of actions with irreparable consequences. And because she is a time traveler, Claire can confidently say that she will find Jamie, despite their long separation.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone wishes they too could travel to 18th century Scotland and meet their own Jamie Fraser. Articles, memes, and social media posts sing his praises.
Fans wax poetic about Jamie’s chivalry, courage, and protective nature — but not often does the internet praise Claire and the power she wields, even amid numerous hardships. She is strong-willed, a fiercely independent and clever heroine who carves out a place for herself in the 18th century — a time period in which women were subjugated.
Don’t get me wrong, Jamie and Claire are very much a team; the fact that he is so open-minded and treats her as an equal gives her agency (to a certain extent), allowing her to be so proactive when women rarely had identities apart from their husbands’.
But let’s talk about how Claire chooses to to stay back in time to be with Jamie, instead of returning to the 20th century. Not only does this demonstrate the extent of her love, but it reveals her courageous ability to face challenges head on. On the surface, she works within the confines of the status quo so as not to ruffle any feathers. Then, behind the scenes, she orchestrates plans of action, utilizing her knowledge of the future, as well as her skills as a World War II nurse, to introduce new advancements and modernize people’s ways of thinking. Claire acutely understands when to speak up or when to let Jamie take control of the situation — but she is by no means a doormat.
She uses the time period to her advantage, subverting people’s underestimations of her in order to one-up them.
In Dragonfly in the Amber, the second novel from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, Claire and Jamie attempt to stop the Jacobite rising so they can prevent the catastrophic Battle of Culloden. At Claire’s behest, they head to Paris and try to convince Prince Charles and Parisian aristocrats to no longer fund the rebellion. The plans may not lead to any success in the grand scheme, but Claire creates impactful change on a smaller scale. She encourages Jamie’s family to grow potatoes so that they and the people of Lallybroch can survive the forthcoming famine. She tends to the wounds of soldiers on the battlefield, and shares intel about the English soldiers’ plan to defeat the Scots.
In the third book, Voyager, Claire is a very successful doctor in the States. After she has spent years assuming that Jamie died on the battlefield, she relentlessly searches through old records of Scottish history to find out exactly where he is.
She travels back in time, knowing that she may never return to the present — a period brimming with indoor plumbing, cars, and more women’s rights than the 1700s can offer.
Claire is admirable in how she chases after her dreams, exuding unwavering confidence that is timeless and resonant.
Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander series, gives Claire all the power in this scenario. She has the resources to not only track Jamie down, but to physically return to 18th century Scotland and reunite with him in the highly anticipated print shop scene. Moreover, she nurses dozens of ill people back to health out at sea, treating their infected wounds with penicillin and syringes she smuggled in from the future. She gives Jamie the (literal) once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see pictures of their daughter, Brianna.
Some viewers may balk at the idea that Claire gives up her accomplished life in 1960s Boston to return to a more turbulent time, but that is her choice.
However, not only does she choose to be with the true love of her life, but as a woman, she manages to still have a huge impact on that era.
Some people will be dressing up as Wonder Woman this Halloween, but I’ll be using Claire Fraser as my badass lady inspiration.