I’ve read the second Outlander book, watched the episode more than once, and I have a bit of jewelry as a remembrance. But why a dragonfly? What relevance or meaning does it bring to the characters and their journey though this part of the series and beyond?
The first time we see the dragonfly in amber is when it’s presented to Claire and Jamie as a wedding gift by Hugh Munro, a licensed beggar who was captured by the Turks and forced to live as a slave in Algiers. I wonder how Hugh came to have it and why he chose to give it as a gift to Claire and Jamie. Was it something he just happened to have on his person, or did it have special meaning or value to him, and its recipients?
The dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation (from water to sky/flight), adaptability, and self-realization. It’s something every human being experiences. Our lives change as we journey through our time on this earth. Perhaps not always as we’d like, which tests our ability to transform, adapt, and grow through self-realization and acceptance of where we are and where we want to be.
It also represents the realm of emotions, an invitation to more deeply explore one’s feelings. There is more to all of us than what is physically on the surface. Feelings have layers, and perhaps the invitation is to explore those layers at our own level of safety and comfort. Moving in and out, as a dragonfly’s wings move up and down. It may be uncomfortable at first, but if you return gradually and when you are ready, the rewards could be amazing.
It seems contradictory to the movement and symbolic role of the dragonfly to see it encased in amber. Its organic life has ended, but it continues on as a precious object that conveys the love and dedication Claire and Jamie have for each other.
Claire has reluctantly agreed to return through the stones as the battle of Culloden begins. She wraps the amber in her scarf and presses it into Jamie’s hand. “You keep it with you,” she whispers. The gift has transformed into a talisman, intended to keep Jamie safe and alive in the battle he’s about to join.
Call it superstition or sentimentality, but I’m sure there are many of us who keep precious objects with us as we go about our daily lives. Perhaps it’s a piece of jewelry that’s been passed down through generations or something recently discovered (a beautiful pebble?) that takes on new meaning relative to the circumstances surrounding its discovery.
The episodes jump around with back story surrounding the glimpses we get of the dragonfly in amber. But we know Jamie had the amber with him on the battlefield because we see it fall from his hand when Rupert rescues him.
The last time we see the amber, it’s clean and resting in a display case at the small museum next to Culloden Moor. Claire has come to say her final goodbye to Jamie and comes across it when she overhears a couple discussing it. It’s unsettling as she remembers the last time she saw it. Now she knows Jamie went to the battlefield and had it with him. She assumes he died at the battle of Culloden, but the dragonfly’s symbolism gives us another layer to explore. It also calls our attention to be on the lookout for illusions or deceits, external or personal. The amber with the dragonfly is there, but Jamie is not. Claire doesn’t know it yet, but perhaps the dragonfly is there to tell her that all may not be as it appears.
I have my own, symbolic remembrance of the dragonfly in amber. It’s a pretty necklace, and I know I’m going to ponder all of its symbolic meanings and intent the next time I put it on.