When I first read Voyager, I noticed certain characteristics about Mr. Willoughby that grabbed my attention. At that time, it was hard for me to have it explained. After finishing reading the whole Outlander series, most of the references about him started to fall into place. Of note is Mr. Willoughby’s attire. He wears blue, the color associated with healing.
“. . . He had accompanied us on the Channel crossing, sticking to Jamie like a small blue-silk shadow. . .” (ch. 40)
“. . . On the streets of Paris, wearing a padded jacket over his blue-silk pajamas, . . .” (ch 40)
In fact, it is in Paris where he reveals to Claire that he has known healers in the past. He also demonstrates his knowledge about herbs. Later, he treats Jamie’s sea sickness with acupuncture. Overall, Mr. Willoughby is impressively talented with both the arts of healing and writing. However, his skills remain unacknowledged by many Europeans, something that he probably finds bothersome (easy to visualize for those who have read my previous posts about short men). Mr. Willoughby is looking for some form of approval, probably because he is not tall (even though, I tend to suspect that his knowledge, his elite background, and his love for women play a more significant role than his height). Based on Claire’s observations, he likes to be recognized for his knowledge.
He allowed his head to roll slightly from side to side, as I had learned was his habit when pleased at being able to astonish someone (ch. 40).
Jamie even acknowledges that he tolerates Mr. Willoughby’s insulting comments about being a smelly barbarian devil just because he understands how somebody feels when losing everything and having just the pride and a friend (ch. 44). In the case of Jamie, he is the laird that has to give his title to a nephew for his property to remain in the family. He lost his freedom but acquired a friend, Lord John. Since a young age, Jamie has always had the risk of losing his life. He has fought many battles and has been persecuted. In book 3, he is not only leaving Scotland to find Young Ian, but also because he is suspected of being a smuggler, a seditious printer, and a Jacobite traitor. In a way, there is a parallel between Mr. Willoughby and Jamie. They both had a respected position in society (at least in their culture), and they live in exile.
Of note is how other characters perceive Mr. Willoughby. Jared’s housekeeper views him with suspicion (ch. 40). In my previous post, I mentioned that other sailors are hostile to him. I guess they all notice how Mr. Willoughby views Europeans in general and his preference for foot binding. Of note is how Reverend Campbell and Mr. Willoughby perceive each other when they meet in Paris:
. . . His eye fell on Mr. Willoughby, and he blinked, features hardening in a stare of disapproval (Ch. 40).
Mr. Willoughby reveals that the Reverend is not so “holly” as he seems to portray himself in public. He frequents to Madame Jeanne’s brothel to have intimate contact with the employees there. This meeting reveals that Mr. Willoughby and Reverend Campbell have probably met or interacted before. What the reader does not know is whether they have met just at the brothel (most likely) or at another location (at Sir Percival’s since Willoughby is the one who betrayed Jamie). It seems that Reverend Campbell has probably been spying on Madame Jeanne’s clandestine activities with Jamie. Furthermore, Claire introduced Mr. Willoughby to the Reverend as an associate of her husband, Mr. Malcolm (and at this stage, it is likely that the Reverend knows that Mr. Malcolm is Jamie Fraser because of Mr. Willoughby’s betrayal). No wonder that the Reverend later becomes aggressive toward Claire because of being Jamie’s wife.
Of course, Mr. Willoughby is not the only one that has been providing information about Jamie to Sir Percival and Reverend Campbell. There is Geordie, Jamie’s employee at the print shop. When he sees Jamie embracing Claire, he reveals that he cannot work for an immoral Papist and that he is a member of the Free Church (ch. 24). After meeting Reverend Campbell in Paris and learning about his hidden sexual life, Claire says to Mr. Willoughby that “the flesh is weak now and then, even for Scottish Free Church ministers” (Voyager, ch. 40). It seems that Geordie and Reverend Campbell have interacted behind the scenes. Furthermore, Mr. Wallace met Claire initially as Mrs. Fraser on their way together to Edinburgh. Later, he is seated at a tavern with Reverend Campbell and Sir Percival, who meets Claire as Mrs. Malcolm. These small encounters also helped in the revelation of Jamie’s real identity.
Finally, I would like to discuss the procedure that Mr. Willoughby uses to treat the phantom limb. Duncan Innes is one of the characters in Voyager who is missing an arm. He feels pain in his ghost arm, and he wonders whether Claire can treat it. Mr. Willoughby explains that the limb is in the ghost world and would like to be back in the living body, and that is why Duncan experiences pain in the phantom arm. Mr. Willoughby proceeds with sending a messenger to the ghost world by using smoke from burning some dried peppers. Then, he spat on Duncan’s stump. Of course, the whole procedure looks offensive to European characters, but there is nothing “heathen” about it. In fact, a similar process is applied by the Tuscarora to treat Jamie’s injury in book 4:
. . . He poured a handful of a lumpy, half-powdery substance into his hand, spat copiously into it, stirred it into a foul-smelling paste, and smeared it liberally over the wounds (Drums of Autumn, ch. 15).
Traditional societies hold the belief that saliva has healing properties. Here are some links of interests that even detail Jesus’s use of saliva when healing.
There are also similarities in the manner in which both Mr. Willoughby and Nacognaweto smoke.
. . . Inflating his lungs and puffing out his cheeks like a blowfish, he blew lustily at the cloud, dispersing it. . . (Voyager, ch. 43)
The older man took the pipe and drew several deep, leisurely mouthfuls, which he exhaled with evident pleasure. Then he knelt, and taking another deep lungful of smoke, carefully blew it up the nostrils of the dead bear. . . (Drums of Autumn, ch. 15)
Amerindians considered the sucking and blowing of smoke as shamanistic metaphors for the transfer of spiritual power (Murillo, 157). Of course, the main difference is that tobacco is used in the procedure detailed in book 4. The reader also perceives Nacognaweto’s method as solemn. Willoughby’s procedure is written in a way to amuse readers. Overall, traditional societies in the Outlander series use smoke to communicate with the spirit world.
Thanks for reading! More interesting topics will be posted within a week.
Gabaldon, Diana. Drums of Autumn. 1997. New York: Dell Publishing. 2002. Print.
– – – . Voyager. 1994. New York: Bantam Dell. 2002. Print
Murillo, Stella. “Half-Ghosts and Their Legacy.” Adoring Outlander: Essays on Fandom, Genre and the Female Audience. Ed. Valerie Estelle Frankel. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2016. 144-161. Print.