This post will mainly be about Mr. Willoughby and some references in Voyager in regards to the behavior of short men. I recommend reading the following post, which I wrote a few weeks ago: About Short and Tall Men, and Monsters. I detailed Claire’s perception about short men. According to her, short men are not nice if they do not get their way and that they lack the confidence to prove themselves. I also suggest reading the following article the details the foot binding was not only practiced among the elite but also among peasants. Chinese Foot-Binding to Work In Home. Overall, the practice originated in the upper social classes, and it was considered a symbol of status and desirable beauty, but it was not restricted to them. Furthermore, it was used for several purposes, not just for erotic pleasure.
In Chapter 44, Jamie explains to Claire the practice of foot binding in China and the reason for Mr. Willoughby’s preference for bound feet. Of course, Claire is horrified about it since bound feet make a woman physically unable to walk comfortably (physical impairment) just to sexually please her husband. Claire reacts:
“Why, that perverted little beast!”
Of course, it is well-known at this stage that Mr. Willougby has a foot fetish and that he has tried to bind the feet of European women. Claire is also aware that European sailors are gallant in regards to women since they do not have contact with them for extended periods of time. Overall, foot binding is a “barbarian” practice to Europeans. However, Mr. Willoughby regards the Europeans as savages. Jamie relates:
“. . . I’m a filthy, bad-smelling gwao-fe-that means a foreign devil, ye ken-wi’ the stink of a weasel- . . .”
These comments show that Mr. Willoughby is not afraid of expressing offense, especially if he is drunk. Of note is Jamie’s observation about short drunk men:
“Have ye noticed, maybe that verra small men will say anything to ye, when they’ve drink taken?” he asked, “I think brandy makes them forget their size; they think they’re great hairy brutes, and swagger something fierce.”
This comment is related to Claire’s notions in regards to short men as detailed in Chapter 17. Note that Jamie is only describing the differences between short men and tall men regardless of race. However, the author’s inclusion of certain words brings up to mind the correlation between short stature and race. European men are usually hairy and tall. Asian men tend to be short with no much body hair. Of course, there are exceptions. Overall, Jamie’s comment is the link between the different opinions expressed about short me and Mr. Willoughby.
Immediately after, there is the scene in which a shark is captured. Mr. Willoughby throws himself into the water to obtain a pelican for himself, a bird that he will eventually teach to catch food for him. The problem is that there were other sharks in the sea biting the captured one, so it was something risky to do. Of course, Jamie eventually rescues him. However, one wonders whether Mr. Willoughby did that to prove himself in front of others. Of course, nobody could see the use of the bird at that time. Murphy, the cook, even mentions that the taste of pelicans is not the best.
Thanks for reading this post. More posts are coming up soon, and it will be about phantom limbs.
Gabaldon, Diana. Voyager. 1994. New York: Bantam Dell. 2002. Print.