A woman we should care about….Claire

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If you are like me, you’ve been watching the Starz channel for possible glimpses of Outlander. The tease definitely was and the disappearance trailer gave me goosebumps!  I’ve been searching for every image I can find. The sheer beauty of the costumes and scenery of the down-under clip left me speechless (and inspired to play it over and over). But, the trailer that I can’t stop thinking about is the one where the cast is commenting. The lines that keep running through my head are spoken by our beloved Ron Moore, “we are going to try to make you believe this really happened to this woman…This is a character you should care about…”

I’m loving the direction he is taking. Despite all the focus we fans tend to place on the sheer magnificence that is Jamie, Ron recognizes that this has always been Claire’s story. Her story to tell. He wisely asks us to come along and watch Claire make sense of the unimaginable. In that clip alone, Cait Balfe made me feel Claire’s resolve and anxiety as she adjusts her unfamiliar 18th century clothing, stiffens her spine , raises her head and “fakes it till she makes it” down the hall. I’m seeing the pragmatic, strong woman I loved in the books. As readers, we saw everything through Claire’s eyes, heard her thoughts and experienced her feelings and I am thrilled that Starz has decided to let us do the same. As a result, I believe the viewers will care about Claire because they’ll discover she is a woman worth caring about.

We can put ourselves in Claire’s place:

We may not have recently fallen through some standing stones, but I’ll bet we’ve all found ourselves strangers in a strange land at some point in our lives. People will care about Claire because on some level they will sympathize with her struggles.  She is a woman alone trying to figure out how to survive without a rule book. There aren’t many of us who have not had to navigate our way in a new job, new place, or establish relationships with strangers. Viewers will know how Claire feels because we’ve all been there 18th century or not. They’ll admire Claire for her tenacity, pragmatism, and strength. They’ll feel sorry for her because she is a modern woman forced into a submissive role and that won’t sit well with Claire or the viewer.

Her love story:

She is a war bride. Many viewers will care about Claire because they know what it feels like to be separated from the person you love. They’ll understand the joy of her second honeymoon with Frank and feel the devastation of her losing him so soon after their long wait to be together. Viewers will admire Claire for her devotion to Frank and her determination to return to him. But, …what about Jamie? The viewers will struggle with Claire as she tries to not fall in love with him. It’s a battle they’ll both lose. What’s a woman to do?… The viewer will want to see how she’ll deal with her forced intimacy with Jamie and her eventual capitulation. Claire becomes a woman in love with two good men. Many viewers will be able to relate.  And, the sex?  Claire is a sexually confident woman and thank God Starz won’t shy away from some of the best sex scenes ever written.

She’s real:

Claire is a woman with strengths and weaknesses just like us. Readers can tell you why they admire her and some can tell you why she makes them crazy. But, most agree that she is genuine.

I believe the characteristic I most admire about Claire is her lack of guile. She’s a terrible liar. Everything she feels shows on her face. She isn’t motivated by greed, or fame, or political gain. She is just as she appears to be and what she appears to be is a kind woman who cares about the people around her. She is a good person. In a t.v. (and real-world) full of characters with ambiguous moral character, I think viewers will be ready to root for a character with a redeeming character. <g>

We’d like to be like her:

Viewers will care about Claire because they will recognize she is a woman to be admired and emulated. I recently asked some Caitriots (Caitriona Balfe fan club) to tell me what they liked and disliked about Claire.   I received a lot of responses and I noticed that most of the responses fell into particular categories, like ….

Claire’s passion; a two-edged sword:  The viewers of Outlander Starz will find plenty of reasons to admire Claire for her passion.  If she believes in something she has no problem commiting.  She blazes ahead and jumps in with both feet, often…to the detriment of herself and others. This impetuous-ness seems to be the thing readers most admire about her and yet, it drives them nuts.

She’s smart:  The Caitriots found lots to admire about Claire’s intellect.  They used words like; ingenious, clever, adaptable, and resourceful.

Her personality:  It was noted that Claire could be stoic when she needed to be, but most times she uses humor to help her cope.  Claire can laugh at herself and life. She is witty and at times scarcastic, but never mean.  She just knows life is easier to swallow when you can see the humor in situations. We could all learn from Claire’s ability to laugh.

Her bravery: One of the most frequently cited of Claire’s admirable qualities was her bravery.  Readers noted that no matter how scared she was Claire felt the fear and did it anyway. They said that she was a loyal and responsible person and that she had the courage to make difficult or unpopular decisions.  They also laughingly noted that she doesn’t back down from anyone, “she doesn’t take anybody’s crap”.

Dichotomy: Claire doesn’t seem to fit the mold for women in either the 18th century or her own time. She is unapologetically unique.  She is strong and yet vulnerable.  She takes on traditional male roles and yet remains wholly feminine.  She is strong-willed and yet pragmatic.  She is compassionate and yet as ruthless as the situation requires.

There were two Caitroits that really summed up why Claire is a woman to care about, they said; “She makes the best possible life for her self with dignity, humor and compassion…” and she ” makes you think deeply about life, relationships and spiritualism; what’s really important…”   We care about Claire because she is a woman who cares about the important stuff.

Starz and Ron Moore are betting that viewers will find Claire and her story fascinating and relatable.  I’m betting they will too.

 

 

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59 thoughts on “A woman we should care about….Claire

  1. Marie Eastwood

    GREAT!!!! You explained Claire in a very clear way showing her from the inside out….and the inside is what makes her beautiful to us, Jamie and Frank!

  2. nanci712

    Brilliant, Beth! Wonderful job describing a remarkable character. I can’t wait to see Catriona become our beloved Claire.

  3. Connie

    Beth, you have done an excellent job at conveying the complexities and qualities of the Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser we know and love! Brava!

  4. Beautifully and thoughtfully written Beth. To me Claire is one of the great heroines in literature. And — Ron’s remarks you referenced really resonated with me when I watched the trailer.

  5. When I joined the Outlander groups on FB, I was surprised at how much emphasis was given to Jamie. I kept looking for Claire. Consequently, I love this blog post. One thing: where are Claire’s girlfriends? She doesn’t seem to have any, really. Not in the 20th century or the 18th. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one.

    • I’ve seen some comments and I think I agree that she is more of a guys gal for a variety of reasons. I think she would welcome a close GF. She loves Jenny and is close to her.

      • Kyndness

        I haven’t gotten to read MOBYyet but I am hoping that Claire and Jenny will finally have a chance to develop that relationship they both have always wanted!

      • SHe did feel friendship for her witchy companion too, and Mrs Fitz ❤ The circumstances of her life and not being in one place for long until the Ridge really? had profound affect on her being able to form those girlfriends, I'd say.

  6. Have to admit my chest was hurting after I read all of the true and beautiful words about Claire. (hurting in a good way)
    As readers, Claire and Jamie do feel like real people to us. That’s why all of this means so much to us. You have divinely
    described Claire and I so wish I could meet her!!

  7. Pogonip

    Bravery is not acting without fear, but rather, facing the fear and doing what is right anyway. Claire does this repeatedly.

  8. You’ve summed it all up very nicely. Claire’s views are what show us the story. You can’t care about the story – Frank, Jaime, the travel, the emotion, etc. – without first caring for the storyteller. I’ve been a fan for many years, decades even. It’s nice to see someone else realizes the depth of Claire’s character.

  9. Kyndness

    Love it!! While Jamie is certainly an amazing and droolworthy character, my love for the series is because of the amazing character Diana created in Claire. We find so few truly great female protagonists in today’s literature, so Claire was a breath of fresh air!

  10. Margare

    You have captured elegant I’ve been saying all along. I am Claire when I read the books I relate to her on so many levels. I was so glad to hear this from Ron Moore also and was happy to see that they were very chosy on their casting choice. Can’t wait to see it all put together!

  11. Claire is a woman of strength, intelligence, wit, fortitude, and so many things we all strive to be. Your post points out all the things I love about her! Well written and so glad I found you!

  12. Betti VanEpps-Taylor

    Yes, I think you’ve nailed it – and her….although I will always love the books – I re-read the series at least twice a year — it is fun to have the visuals — and yes — the woman pictured could, in my mind, definitely be Claire…..
    Thank you.

  13. How do I say thank you for this? I’m suppose I’m just glad it’s not all about Jamie. There have been so many things about Jamie and though he is A star of the series, THE star of the series is Claire. And it’s not that I don’t love Jamie, but I was drawn into this series because I wanted to see how Claire lives. It IS all about Claire; it’s about how she deals with her travails, how she makes things work and how she lives and loves and does what she can to make the best of what she has to work with. This series is a tribute to strong women everywhere and it’s refreshing to read a POV that reflects that.

  14. Erin

    I was redirected to your blog from Terry Dresbach’s web-site. Oh! I am glad I clicked. Thank you for the resplendent synopsis of why Claire is important. That she is. Although I do not always see eye to eye with Claire on her observations and deliberations, what I appreciate most about her is her forthrightness. She is truly a force to be reckoned with. Just as you said, she is unapologetic, which is something we so often tag as a male trait. Claire can make hard decisions, yet, she is compassionate and sympathetic to know when her choices have hurt others and strides for reconciliation. She doesn’t take crap, nor is she prone to being whiney when things don’t go her way. She is strong, very assertive, calculating (albeit unpredictable) and not afraid to take risks. Her sexuality exudes from her self-assuredness and intellect. On the one hand, she is an intellectual partner with Frank. On the other, she has fierceness that blends seamlessly with Jamie. But what truly separates Claire from your average hero/heroine is her ability to adapt. I am glad Ron Moore is capturing Claire in this light and grateful that I stumbled upon your site. Your summation hold some the reasons exactly why I introduced my husband to the series. Not because of the awesome fight scenes, scintillating sex, sci-fi adventure, or captivating historical context, but because of Claire. (and Gabaldon too, who has a knack for writing three dimensional women).

    • Wow! Thank you for your response and I’m glad you found my blog too! Thinking of reposting since were so close to the premier. Not sure,A LOTof people have read this! And now all the critics (people who get paid to write) ARE posting similar sentiments I’m happy to say! So glad the world is going to hear and see Ms. Gabaldon’s wonderful story! Thanks again!

  15. Thank you for a thoughtful and well reasoned reminder about the real focus of the Outlander book series and TV show.

    As Charlaine Harris (author of the Sookie Stackhouse books) and Alan Ball (True Blood) can attest, when a series centered around a strong female protagonist also contains attractive male protagonists, the female protagonist is often overlooked or becomes the object of fan criticism because she isn’t making decisions that would pair her with the more highly favored male or those decisions make her relationship with the male more difficult.

    In other words, the fans don’t like it when the heroine thinks for herself and pursues goals important to her. Whether it’s the ‘mommy wars’ or the decision making and actions of fictional characters, women have got to get to a place where they are less intolerant of one another. I can’t imagine that men are ever going to take us very seriously on a universal scale until that happens.

    I adore Sam Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie and admit, as a woman with functioning hormones, that he is one very attractive man. However, I also have faith in Caitriona Balfe’s ability to portray Claire as the strong, sometimes headstrong woman that was so beautifully created by Diana Galbadon. I just hope that she, both Caitriona and Claire, gets all the credit she deserves.

    • I think there is no doubt. I see “our” Claire develop more in every episode. Cait is doing a terrific job with A very challenging role! I’m loving the “sassy-nach” label! It fits!

  16. Betti VanEpps-Taylor

    Coming along very nicely. Interesting to see the way “our Claire” is developing in this complex and demanding role – involving a world we can scarcely imagine, much less figure out how to live, survive, and even thrive in it….

    I do love the way Claire’s 20th century background has both prepared — and not prepared her for this extremely odd and dangerous new world – one that is far more dangerous than she has, as yet any idea. I love Jamie’s comment later in the books as she struggles to adapt – something like – “nobody ever tried to hurt you on purpose before….” what a harsh world that was – and how much has changed in the last 2050 years. As a historian, I love that juxtaposition of those two worlds…..

    Diana is a remarkable writer in her ability to consistency sustain the suspension of disbelief required for this entire enterprise to make sense – and the film makers are as well…..

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