What literary character do I have a crush? That’s an easy question to answer. It is Highlander-warrior, James Fraser. To be exact, Outlander’s James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser (JAMMF). I can confidently say that I am not alone in this sentiment. There are millions of fans of the Outlander books by author Diana Gabaldon and its adaptation for a television series on the cable network, Starz.
Before the first episode aired, Starz promoted the show with several film “shorts.” These are approximately ten-minute sneak peeks and “behind the scenes” look at the upcoming new show. Ron Moore (producer, writer) reveled that he thought the most difficult role to cast would be Jamie Fraser. Why? Moore claims that Jamie Fraser is “Bigger than life…he is the King of Men.” This was the first time I heard Jamie Fraser described in this way. Ironically, this role was not hardest to cast; but, it was the easiest to cast. That is, after Sam Heughan’s Skype interview, and the viewing of his audition tape. The search for Jamie was over. It was over almost as soon as it began.
Not only is Outlander (1991) the first book of the series, it is Gabaldon’s first novel too. Presently, there are a total of eight books in this historical multi-genre series. Fans are thrilled by the promise of a planned total of ten books before the series is completed As a matter of fact, Book #9, Go Tell The Bees That I am Gone, is a work in progress. No release date in 2017 has been announced. However, Gabaldon graciously posts excerpts of this book, for her fans, as she continues to work on it. To view them on her site, just click on the link below:
So Who Is This Fictional Character: Jamie Fraser?
JAMMF is an 18th century Highlander. He possesses numerous traits and talents. Here is a list of a few: He is brave, loyal, extremely intelligent, funny, resourceful, educated, mysterious, nobel, an outlaw, honest, has a high tolerance to pain, Scot-stubborn, and completely loveable. There are weaknesses too; for instance, he is tone-deaf (cannot hear the variations of the notes in music or pleasantly sing a tune), he cannot travel over large bodies water without becoming deathly seasick, and he cannot blink with only one eye. His physical attributes are varied: he has dark red hair, dark blue eyes, wide smile, stands 6’4″, has a charismatic personality, has a very hot internal body temperature, his back is severely scarred from 200 lashes given as punishment, and is drop dead gorgeous. His magnetism is so strong that most women, and a few men as well, would love to assist him in the removal of his kilt.
As magnificent as fictional Jamie Fraser sounds, Sam Heughan’s brilliant portrayal is nearly as remarkable. Jamie’s particular mannerisms are not missed in Heughan’s performances. It is so eerily perfect that many fans confuse Heughan, the actor, with Jamie, the book character. Despite this, most critics overlook his screen presence as nothing more than eye candy. Which is a shame because Heughan is definitely a skilled professional who does an astonishing job. One day in the near future, I hope he will be given the acting accolades he deserves.
So is Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie that remarkable that millions of women around the world are in love with Jamie/Sam?
In part, yes! But, to give proper credit where it is due, you have to look at Gabaldon’s literary genius in the creation of two fictional characters: Jamie and his time travelling wife, Claire. To understand this phenomenal effect on women, it is important to analyze the entirety of Jamie and Claire characters, the circumstances that brought them together; and the kind of relationship they eventually develop.
The story begins:
Claire Randall (played by the lovely and talented Caitriona Balfe) is a WWII combat nurse. She accidentally time travels from 1945 to 1743. How does this time travel come about?
Claire is married to Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) who was a MI6 operative (a British Spy/Special Forces) during WWII. After the War, Frank becomes a history professor at Oxford. But, before he starts his new civilian job, he takes Claire on a second honeymoon to be reacquainted as a couple, after the years of separation. They arrive on their second honeymoon in Scotland on Halloween (Samhain day: Ghosts of the dead are able to mingle with the living). Unfortunately, un-romantic Frank spends most of his time doing research on his own family’s history. There are times when Claire must persuade her husband to abandon his research for more intimate, physical couplings with her. In other words, he seems to be slightly resistant to take the opportunities to have sex with his wife. I wonder if he is hiding something?
On a rainy night, as Frank is returning (alone) to his and Claire’s room, he literally bumps into the ghost of 18th century of Jamie Fraser. Frank finds Jamie staring up at a second story window. Through the window, he can see Claire as she brushes her curly hair. Frank is totally shaken when the spirit passes so close as to pass through his shoulder. When he later discusses the incident to Claire, he reluctantly confesses that it might have been a ghost; but, on second thought, he suggests that Claire might have had a Scottish lover. Many fans love Frank as a character; and, I admire the actor, Tobias Menzies, who skillfully plays both roles as lovely Frank and his villainous ancestor, Black Jack Randall; but, I suspect there is something inherently wrong with Frank’s character.
While Frank searches through dusty old records with his friend, Reverend Wakefield (James Fleet), Claire tries to keep busy by searching for medicinal herbs. It is while she is having her tea leaves read by Mrs Graham (Tracey Wikinson) who is the housekeeper for Reverend Wakefield. During the reading of tea leaves that lay in the bottom of the Claire’s cup, she learns she will be married to two men at the same time, bigamy? Also during this tea reading, Claire is informed that her husband will not stray to other women’s beds (Boy, did she get that wrong). So much for tea readings!
Frank insists on doing some of his own voyeurism just before dawn. He is told by the Reverend Wakefield that on the Autumn solstice, the ladies dress in white with lanterns, dance and sing, welcoming the new season. He and Claire hide as they watch this mysterious and ancient ritual. Once it is over, they begin to investigate the Standing Stones where this all took place. Claire finds some very pretty blue flowers, maybe Forget-me-nots, growing very close to the face of one Stone. They leave quickly, when one of the girls return. Later, Frank announces he has more documents to research. Claire decides to go back to the Stones alone and gather samples of those blue flowers.
Once, she begins to gather them, she hears a humming noise coming from the Stones. She places her hands on the stone and feels the vibration. Then, she feels she is falling among chaos and screams. The noise and pain is so overwhelming she passes out. When she awakes, the terrain has changed. Her car is missing. She sees British soldiers running through the woods. Then, she is being shot at and chased by them. She runs into their captain, Black Jack Randall. At first she is confused and thinks it is Frank. But after he assaults her and nearly rapes her, she definitely knows: he may look like Frank, but that ain’t Frank.
She is saved by a stinky Highlander. He grabs her behind a tree trying to avoid passing soldiers. Claire tries to scream for help before he cold cocks her in the head with the cluff of his sword. She is taken to a cottage, full of stinky men who sees her dirty 20th century dress as an undergarment…indecent…whore? Here, she hears them discusses a young lady’s injuries. When their leader, Dougal, tries to figure out if she is a spy or what, he knows the British is near; and, they must leave as soon as possible. The young man’s shoulder is out of place. They may cripple him trying to set it. If they don’t set it, they have to leave him behind. At first, Claire tries to keep quite, but the healer/nurse in her will not allow them to break his bones. She yells at them to stop. And like the combat nurse, she is, she takes over and properly sets Jamie Fraser’s shoulder. Their first date…riding on horse, together in the rain for two days. That is when I knew that I was totally hooked on their story.
Have I lost you yet?
So, again I ask what is it that makes James Fraser so irresistible to happily married Claire? If you look at the some facts concerning Jamie Frazer you might wonder if she has lost her mind. You certainly would question giving him the honorable description of The King of Men.
Here is a brief list of some reasons why Jamie Fraser’s title should be questioned. First, he is a British outlaw, fought as a mercenary for the French army, a coo (cow) thief, a spanker of Claire’s bottom, penniless, stubborn, a flirtatious tease (he is a virgin), he is easily roused (constant horny mode), no plans for the future, lives off his relatives, gets seriously hurt a lot, is superstitious, and he gives his body over to Frank’s super great-granddad to rape and torture even though he will be hanged the next day. That is just in the first book.
Warning! 🚫 Possible Spoilers ahead 🔺 for those who have not read all 8 Books
In later books, he marries a woman (Laoghaire) who nearly has Claire burned at the stake for being a witch; he has sex with an 18-year-old engaged girl (she blackmailed him to bed her) that produces a son he cannot claim, he begrudgingly befriends a gay British officer who is in love with him who just so happens to be the commander of the prison he is being held in as a traitor; he murders a prison guard, but not out of self-defense; he leaves wife #2 but sends her money out of guilt, he lives in a brothel, he is a smuggler, he has numerous aliases; and, he composes and prints traitorous material.
He also tells lies that would shame a politician; he encourages his runaway nephew to stay with him while the boy’s parents (his sister and best friend’s child) are frantically looking for him; he keeps his second marriage a secret from Claire; and, he nearly beats an innocent man to death for mistakenly believing he raped his daughter.
Does this sound like the King of Men? Far from it!
So, why is it, with all these flaws and imperfections, do women find James Fraser so irresistible? Does he possess some magical spell that he casts over our hearts or maybe he possesses a spark of the divine in his words? Maybe in a way, he does all of this, for Claire. In my opinion, James Fraser’s secret isn’t that he is the King of Men. In fact, his flaws are very human and can be be found to some extent in Every Man.
Jamie loves Claire unconditionally. No matter if she endangers their lives, swears like a soldier, tests his patience over her devotion to Frank, or tells him outlandish stories about time travelling and the future; to the point he questions her sanity or believes she might be a witch. He is there, through it all, for her. He believes and trusts her. If actions speak louder than words, then Jamie has proved his love and devotion from the sheer number of times he risks his own life to save hers.
He nearly always puts her first. Not only does he risks his life for her, he is willing to live a horrible life alone without her, if it will keep her and their child safe. Again, he proves this when he painfully guides her to the Standing Stones in order for her to go back to her time and Frank, not once, but twice!
Even when death beckons him to leave this world, it is his love for Claire that makes him stay. Jamie is loyal, faithful, intelligent, loving, and caring to his family and friends. He is a hard worker, a good provider, open-minded, and inquisitive. However, what he is not is perfect!
James Fraser gives hope to every women, and man, that true love does exists; but, it only happens with the “right” person. This can be exemplified by Jamie Fraser’s second marriage.
Obviously, he wasn’t made to love Loaghaire even though she “thought” he was the love of her life. To “land” Jamie, she even schemes to place Claire in harms way and out of her way. Loaghaire loved the idea of loving Jamie and being married to him. To Loaghaire that’s all that was needed. Jamie feelings would naturally match her own; or, so she thought. That’s the problem. She worked hard “to get him.” Once she got him, it did not take her long to feel the void within her marriage. Unlike Claire and Jamie, she did not feel at home, or safe when they embraced or made love.
According to Loaghaire, Jamie didn’t need her; instead, she knew deep down in her heart that he still ached for Claire. Loaghaire felt miserable in her marriage and avoided sex at all costs. Sadly, Jamie tried to please her but failed. Again, if both partners are not equally committed, emotionally, they will soon feel alone in a failed relationship.
Jamie and Claire Fraser’s relationship remind us that it is possible to be with a flawed someone who is a true friend. A person that we feel well loved by and always at home with.
For the millions of fans like myself, yes, we swoon, we even lust a bit after Jamie Fraser because he carries with him our desire and wish to be wholly loved. To be home, with our love, no matter where we are or where we go, as long as we share that mutual love, together.
This is a post for the 2017 Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings and Maedez from A Small Life. From June 23rd through the 25th, use the following link to find more postings on character crushes ❤️
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