Jamie Fraser: "Great Scot" or only human?
Throughout the OUTLANDER series, Jamie Fraser has always been portrayed as a heroic figure, big and strong, brave and honorable, able to meet nearly any challenge that comes his way. But is he too perfect a character? We know he has flaws, because Claire sees them all too clearly. But he keeps them hidden away from everyone else — from his tenants, even from Brianna and Roger — with the result that outsiders tend to view him as almost super-human.
[Most of the new tenants] regarded him with a half-superstitious awe, and I was given to understand that Himself could naturally survive the eating of things that would kill any normal person dead on the spot.(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70 ("The Gathering"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I think...if he were to see the scars, he couldna see me anymore without thinking of my back. And I'd be able to see him thinking of it, and that would make me remember it, and--" He broke off, shrugging.(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 8, "An Evening's Entertainment". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
In the light of day, I saw clearly what exhaustion and the aftereffects of shock had stopped me seeing the night before. His insistence on his own bed. The open shutters, so he could hear the voices of his family below, his tenants outside. And me beside him. He had, very carefully, and without saying a word to me, decided how and where he wanted to die.(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 93 ("Choices"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jamie does not show his feelings easily in front of other people (Claire excluded). He seems to feel that a chief, a leader of men, must not betray any signs of weakness or uncertainty in public, lest it undermine the people’s confidence in him. We see this outward confidence shaken only rarely -- for example, when Young Ian is kidnapped in VOYAGER:
"I don't know," he said. "Damn me to hell, I don't know what to do!" His hands flexed suddenly into fists at his sides. He shut his eyes, breathing heavily.I felt even more frightened at this admission. In the brief time I had been back with him, I had grown once more accustomed to having Jamie always know what to do, even in the direst circumstances. This confession seemed more upsetting than anything that had yet happened.(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39 ("Lost, and by the Wind Grieved"). Copyright © 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.
In ABOSAA, when Jamie rescues Claire from her abductors, we see a completely different side of Jamie, where he has reverted almost entirely to pure instinct. Terrified by the thought of losing Claire, seized by fury and a deep desire for vengeance, he reacts with a sort of mindless brutality, all traces of the civilized man, the gentleman, forgotten.
He was saying something else, urgently, but I couldn't manage to translate it. Energy pulsed through him, hot and violent, like the current in a live wire, and I vaguely realized that he was still almost berserk; he had no English.(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28 ("Curses"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jamie’s refusal to show weakness in public sometimes causes friction with the other men. Tom Christie is frankly jealous of Jamie’s leadership abilities and his ease in dealing with people. Roger is intimidated by Jamie’s seeming ability to handle any situation (”He can do everything better than I can”, he snaps to Bree at one point in ABOSAA). It’s not until Roger saves Jamie’s life when he is bitten by the snake in FIERY CROSS that a true bond of friendship and trust is established between Roger and Jamie. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is the first time Jamie really lets down his guard in front of Roger, dropping the stoic facade and allowing Roger to see the vulnerable human being underneath.
Even with Claire, Jamie is not always willing to show what he is really feeling. In times of the greatest emotional stress, his first instinct is to turn away, to hide his tears (which he views as shameful evidence of his “weakness”), and to refuse Claire’s attempts to comfort him. But eventually, he always turns to her, finding solace in her embrace. For it is only with Claire that he can truly be himself.