Over the last few months, I have gotten into a number of…..erm……discussions (ahem) about the indignity that Claire suffered at Jamie’s hands. I’ll make this statement up front then you can decide if you want to continue reading or not.
Claire was given exactly what she deserved. Period.
Now for those of you still reading, let me explain. Oh and be warned I’m going to bring in something from Season 2/Dragonfly in Amber here – so bit of a spoiler.
First of all….let’s all get on the same page as far as definitions. You will note that I did not use either ‘beating’ or ‘spanking’ as – by the definitions I found – neither is appropriate.
Jamie obviously used his belt so that negates the spanking though it was confined to her bottom. Also, while he may well have gotten some ‘sexual pleasure’ from it, that was not his goal. His goal here, and he stated it very clearly was justice.
This seems an appropriate definition of what took place in this instance.
noun 1. a leather strap having one end cut into thongs, formerly used as an instrument of punishment by a schoolteacher
verb 2. to punish (someone) with or as if with a tawse; whip
Word Origin C16: probably plural of obsolete taw strip of leather; see taw ²
Very similar to ‘thrash’ and comes from the Scots so probably the most appropriate but most people don’t know the word so – I settled on thrash.
to hit repeatedly:
They saw him beating his dog with a stick.
The child had been brutally/savagely beaten.
She was beaten to death.[+ obj + adj ]
He was beaten senseless.
I get really rather cranky with people that insist Jamie BEAT Claire. He didn’t. I left the examples under ‘beat’ to show a point. The term ‘to beat’, to most people denotes a brutal act with the goal being to inflict pain and injury/damage. You might note too that while the other three definitions all explicitly say this is for ‘punishment’ – beat does not. To me – and yes this is just my opinion but seems to be upheld by definitions, a man who BEATS his wife is trying to hurt her both physically and psychologically. I’m sure many will disagree with me and likely I’ll hear about that – I can respect your opinions without agreeing with them. I hope you will give me the same courtesy.
Claire, was angry. She’d been attacked and Jamie hadn’t been much help initially. She was angry that she had forgotten her quest to get back to her own time, angry that no one was willing to listen to her as a woman and, I think, angry because she was falling in love with her new husband. She was sulking rather like a spoiled brat really. She was only focused on herself and what she wanted and how upset she was. Did she think, even for a moment, that the very last thing on earth Jamie wanted to do at that moment was leave her side? He was trying to find a way to get the price off his head and be a proper husband and it was a one off deal. What choice did he have?
Instead of being grateful that he wanted to keep her as safe as possible and not subject her to more of the same ilk she had just survived, she was pouting because he didn’t listen to her. So, she wanders off and sees Craigh na Dun. Impetuously, she runs away. To Frank, away from Jamie and the 18th century – but without for even a moment thinking through the consequences of her actions. She does have a habit of this.
We all know what happens. The shouting match between them. Was great. Well done. Anyone who still has issues with either of these two awesome actors bringing these characters to life probably needs to find another show to watch.
So, they get back all safe and Claire IS sorry, but she’s still very focused on HER. She really has not realized the peril she put that group of men in. These men who, have accepted her into their clan, fought for her honor, brought even more English problems down on themselves and the clan – these men she put in harm’s way because she did exactly what SHE wanted to rather than listening to the council or orders of her husband. She is capable of taking orders – she did it all through the war. She understood that her commanding officer might know more than her and trusted that. She simply is refusing to trust Jamie and for that time and place, that is deadly. She needed to truly understand what disobedience could cause. She needed to really ‘get’ the injustice of what she had done to Jamie, the clan and honestly, herself.
We are also well aware that harsh punishments / justice are indeed common. Geillis thought nothing of a young lad losing a hand for stealing a loaf of bread. A hungry kid trying to eat. I don’t remember hearing any cries of ‘child abuse’ and long diatribes about this. Even Jamie had no issues with the ear nailing and seemed to be quite familiar with it. Harsh punishments and a high sense of honor were part of the way of life – and death. Breaking oaths in that time got people killed or could. Claire broke faith with what are now her kinsman by running off and she specifically broke her promise to Jamie. That is huge and almost never touched on in all this.
So for all of you people who get so indignant about her thrashing, are you going to get just as pissed off in the next season when Jamie thrashes some men for not properly standing their posts? For, by their selfish actions of not paying proper attention, put the entire group at risk? This is Claire’s own comment about that incident:
“I thought perhaps I would be sick, though I gathered that the punishment was light enough, by the standards applied to such things…..” (Direct quote from Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon).
Jamie called these two men out, gave them a verbal dressing down then thrashed them. He was punishing them for putting the rest at risk by their actions – exactly like he does with Claire. She was treated like a member of the clan. Oh, and then Jamie has himself thrashed because HE was lax and it was HIS action that drew the enemy fighter to their camp and caused the initial problem. He expects the same punishment.
Now, many will come back that it’s different. Claire is a woman and his wife. I say it is NOT different. She had a responsibility to the clan. Men that had fought for her and protected her. She obviously was not ‘getting’ it as this was one in a long line of here doing her own thing and causing trouble. The very visceral enforcement by thrashing didn’t even totally work – but it did make her think through things a bit more often.
And yes, Claire is a woman and Jamie’s wife. As such, she was granted a LOT of leniency. She was thrashed in private not in front of all those men she put at risk. I think it’s already clear public punishment was common as well. Jamie was allowed, as her husband, to dish out her punishment. Under those circumstances I’m sure it would have been appropriate for Dougal to be the one to administer the thrashing. I highly doubt he would have been as lenient or as tolerant of her fighting back. She really might have gotten a true beating had Dougal been doing it.
I was ‘thrashed’ as a child. Not often because I didn’t like it. Part of the deal yeah? You want to avoid unpleasantness. The instrument in question for me was a board rather than a strap. After my first thrashing, I tended to weigh things with the idea of ‘if I do this do I risk that’? I tended to make better choices after that – not always perfect but better.
I am someone that believes it’s better to slap a child’s hand away from a hot stove or give a little swat on the butt to startle them away from something really bad or dangerous and have that bit of sting from either enforce the message. I am NOT advocating spousal abuse or child abuse or beating. I do believe in punishment for wrong doing and CLAIRE DID WRONG!
Jamie was not trying to physically damage her, though he was trying to give her enough pain for justice for all those wronged and to enforce the point of danger that she was just not letting into her head. She was thinking because she had lived through the war, that nothing in 18th century Scotland could be as bad or dangerous. But it’s a very different reality as far as danger goes and she DOES need to get it through her stubborn head she needs to listen and obey for her safety and that of those around her.
To me, Jamie is a good man in a really bad situation. He says frankly, that had she been a man the punishment would be far worse. He did nothing wrong. He didn’t ‘beat’ his wife – he didn’t abuse her. He meted out justice for a severe wrong done against himself, the men who were protecting her and, ultimately, herself.
Claire got exactly what she deserved in this. A harsh punishment to fit the crime, but given by a loving hand that ultimately wants to keep her and his clan safe.