Bookish Oscars

Best Dramatic Picture: Favourite dramatic scene – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Trigger Warning: the contents of this post might affect some readers as it discusses sexual abuse and torture.

As a reader, you know that I could make a list (which would be equivalent to ten monthly grocery lists) of scenes that crushed my soul, so which one to pick as my favourite? Also, I love how this category is named the “favourite” dramatic scene, as if we enjoy our insides being grinded into small pieces while simultaneously not being able to breathe. Brilliant, right?

Alas, I had to pick just one and I kept coming back to the only scene that really stayed with me long after I finished reading the book – I give you a soul-crushing scene from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Despair dragged at me like an anchor, pulling me down. I closed my eyes and retreated to some dim place within, where there was nothing but an aching grey blankness…

First, let me start by saying that this author’s writing is absolutely wonderful. Her writing style doesn’t fall under lyrical, but the way she describes her scenes really hits you so that you’re able to truly experience things at the same time the characters are. And not to mention the way she transports you to 18th century Scotland. Never before has an author made me feel like I was actually there; standing on a misty green hill, barefoot and watching the rising sun cast the endless blue sky aglow. It’s fantastic, which is why her dramatic scenes are so heart-wrenching, like the one I’ve chosen for this category; Jamie being raped and tortured my Jack Randall.

She managed to describe Jack Randall torturing and raping Jamie in a way that leaves you aghast and queasy from what you’ve just read – which is what a scene like that should do. I cannot tell how many times I’ve come across a book that glorifies or romanticises these actions, instead of showcasing the brutality of it and the real effects it would have on the victim.

Gabaldon explored the many ways Jamie was “damaged”, so to speak, without diluting the violence of the act for the readers. We got to see Jamie go through a kaleidoscope of emotions. From being broken and feeling hopeless to giving in to the anger he had tried to suppress and finally to opening himself up to healing.

My throat was left dry and scratchy after reading Jamie express his guilt for how his body responded to Randall, despite his disgust for what was being done to him.  While the fact that he couldn’t bear to be touched without being reminded of what had been done to him in that dungeon left me feeling absolutely hollow.

That my fellow nerds, is how to execute a rape scene. It should evoke nausea and clenched fists and the aftermath of it all should be handled with the same amount of time and care.

That’s about all I’m going to say for this category, the last part of Outlander ruthlessly clawed at my heart and I think that’s reason enough to win the title of Favourite Dramatic Scene.

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