Outlander season two: Who is La Dame Blanche?

Claire is mistaken for a mythical figure in this week's episode of Outlander

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[WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR OUTLANDER SEASON 2 EPISODE 4]

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Claire and Jamie might have swapped the Scottish highlands for the courts of Paris to escape the clutches of Black Jack Randall, but that doesn’t mean life in the French capital is plain sailing.

The couple have already secured themselves enemies, and episode four sees Claire poisoned and then later attacked by an unknown assailant. 

While Jamie welcomes influential guests to an important dinner party, Claire, Murtugh and Mary are set upon by a gang of criminals while walking back to the Fraser’s home. Murtagh is beaten and Mary is raped, but Claire escapes the attack unscathed because the gang mistake her for La Dame Blanche. 

It’s a convenient error, but what, or who, is La Dame Blanche? 

Well, its literal translation is ‘The White Lady’, but La Dame Blanche is a mythical figure who regularly pops up in European medieval folklore. 

They are, according to different mythology, witches, healers, sorceresses, spirits or ghosts. Then can be sacred figures who are said to help or hinder those who encounter them. Some stories say they are benevolent and wise, but others record them as being evil, and often a harbinger of death. 

They are said to be spotted near graves, sacred sites, caves and bridges, and are aided by cats, owls and other creatures. And they are, importantly in this case, said to punish people who treat them badly. 

“She is called a wise woman, a healer. And yet… she sees to the centre of a man, and can turn his soul to ashes, if evil be found there,” explains the butler to Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Dragonfly in Amber.  

La Dame Blanche is also a French opera, written a century after Claire is in Paris, which tells the story of a Scottish love story, a lost heir and a hidden fortune. 

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Outlander season two continues on Sundays on Amazon Prime