Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The Novel

Posted 19 February, 2016 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

If you saw my post with the introduction about my MA paper on Outlander last Friday, you already know how I came to use Outlander for academic purposes, and how happy I was to be able to do that. Today, I’m talking about the novel, and a specific scene that happened in both the novel, the TV show and the graphic novel.

One of the aspects of the novel, the graphic novel, and the TV show that caught my attention is that the main characters behave the same way across all three media. This shows that at least part of the story remains the same, even if it is told differently. Claire is assertive and strong, with little thought to her own safety when it comes to setting Jamie’s shoulder correctly. Because she is a nurse and knows how to deal with a dislocated shoulder, this becomes more important to her than anything else in this instance as can be seen below.


The novel is narrated by Claire, and written in either third person as she describes the other characters and their actions, or in first person when she narrates her own actions and reactions. There are also dialogues, which bring the action closer to the reader, as these seem to happen in the present time, both when it comes to the story and the reading of the story. In the excerpt above, taken from page 41 of Outlander, Claire’s exclamation shows her taking control over the situation, throwing caution to the wind to make sure Jamie’s injury will not be made worse by the men’s actions. 

The narration here shows that when she was in that moment, Claire was “oblivious to the startled looks of the men”, but she must have been aware of this on one level in order to be able to report it when sharing the story at a later time. This also shows how strong Claire’s character is, she is not a shrinking violet who will stand on the sidelines and let the men do as they like. She is indeed issuing an order to the men, not taking into account that there are several of them, nor that she might be better served not sharing her strength and knowledge at this point.

Claire exerts a certain power, which is an anachronism in 18th century Scotland, and this serves as a reminder to the readers that Claire is not only out of place, but also out of time. Her exclamation also brings the reader into the story, both with anticipation and possibly a little fear. What will the men do next? In the graphic novel, Claire grabs the man who is trying to set Jamie’s shoulder, here, she merely “elbowed Rupert back” to make room for herself. While there is a certain level of tension here, reading what happened makes the diffusion of the tension arrive faster than it did in the graphic novel. 

When “the bald man” snaps at Claire for an explanation, “clearly irritated” by the intrusion, she is not deterred in her objective at all. In fact, she continues forward towards Jamie, as if she is in charge like she might have been in the field hospital. She moves while seemingly unconcerned, and rather unceremoniously explains that they will break Jamie’s arm if the continue in the same fashion they had started. At this point, the narration moves outward again for a little while, showing that Claire has reflected on this moment and later realised how surprised the men were at both her outburst and the fact that she seemed very confident in her own knowledge about Jamie’s dislocated shoulder.

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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16 responses to “Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The Novel

  1. I’ve never thought of comparing across all three medias. Especially about how the characters behave. I must have missed your other post. I’ll go back and read it too. Great discussion today. You have me thinking….!

    • Well, I might not have gotten that idea if it wasn’t for my class, Laura. But I thought Outlander was a perfect example for that 🙂 It’s really amazing how close the characters are in all three, and I’m pretty sure that’s because Ms. Gabaldon had her hands in the TV show and the graphic novel as well. It’s so nice when a TV show is like the novel, because it’s not something alien created just based on something.

  2. This scene really conveys Claire’s strength and makes me want to meet her all the more! I’m so happy you’re sharing this, Lex! 😀
    Happy Friday, my friend! **BIG HUGS**

    • It does, and it also shows that she’s a modern woman, whereas the Scottish men are not used to a woman taking charge like that. It was quite funny, actually, and I can’t believe you haven’t met Claire and Jamie yet, Brandee!! *BIG HUGS*

  3. Would you be shocked to say I haven’t read this book nor have I watched the very popular TV series. It sort of passed me by and I haven’t really paid much attention. But maybe I should pay more attention to it now. Great post!

  4. I always thought of it as the moment that sets a tone for the book. 1) Claire has established herself as a healer, which comes to be important throughout the series. 2) She has shown that she is different, i.e. not behaving like the women of that time typically did, 3) this is her first interaction with Jamie. The fact that is it their first meeting is probably the reason it was in all three mediums. Funny enough, though, the scene that DG had to fight to retain for the show was the “Ye need not be scairt of me” speech.

    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted: Burning Midnight By Will McIntosh
  5. Excellent!

    “she continues forward towards Jamie, as if she is in charge like she might have been in the field hospital. ”

    Yeah, she was so used to being a nurse in the midst of battle, ordering men around to take care of them, that it just came natural to her. Which wasn’t something those men weren’t expecting since they didn’t even know her. And the fact that she was obviously more knowledgeable than them about that sort of thing. That was definitely an important part of the story when it come to setting up the dynamic not just between her and Jaime, but the other men, too.

  6. I have not read or watched Outlander. It is something that I’ve thought about, but just haven’t gotten to. I don’t have Showtime, so I couldn’t watch. I will probably read one day (or I should say listen, LOL). I love how you are looking at the three different media and how they look the story. I haven’t really done that much. I’ve seen some movies where I’ve read the books, but I don’t usually break them down that much. I usually just disappointed that the movie wasn’t as good as the book and leave it at that. This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing Lexxie.

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  7. This scene shows a very modern woman, which is why I really like Claire. At the same time, I’m wondering : would she have survived way back there ? But I also know there were feminists in the centuries before us, so…. That’s what I found hard to adhere to when I read historical romances : the heroins are very often very self assured and I’m not sure it happened way back then. However, I love Claire because she’s not just stubborn, she’s clever and learned. Anyway, I love that story – and your essay 😉

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