The Collector (John Fowles) - A Critical Analysis
The Collector by John Fowles, Novel Cover

"In this chilling archetypal tale of good and evil, a beautiful, idealistic young woman studying art in London is kidnapped by a startlingly ordinary young man who wants only to keep her--like the butterflies he has collected before her." - AudioFile Magazine. Here we critically analyse the novel that launched John Fowles' career as an author, and that later became a novel infamously associated with several serial killers who attempted to use it as justification for their crimes whilst pleading in court.

1. Key ideas about the characters and their relationship, and how Part One of the novel works to reveal them.
2. An assessment of Clegg's mental condition, and the extent to which his illness has been shaped by childhood experiences.
3. The author's use of point of view to manipulate the reader’s response to the characters and ideas in the novel.
4. The significance of Miranda’s relationship with G.P, and what role he plays in her development particularly in terms of the values and attitudes she strives to adopt.
5. How the context (personal background, social, political, cultural influences etc.) of John Fowles may have influenced the construction of the novel.
6. The novels conclusion, and how it is important in terms of the writer’s overall purpose.

1. Key ideas about the characters and their relationship

...and how Part One of the novel works to reveal them.

From the successful capture of Miranda the story begins to reveal some very significant ideas about the characters and their relationship. In particular, pages 30-35 provide our first ever insight into both of the characters and how they interact with each other. The said pages occur immediately after Clegg kidnaps Miranda, and begins with Clegg lying in bed reminiscing over what had just happened and his feelings regarding it. “Eventually I went up and went to bed. She was my guest at last and that was all I cared about” (p. 30). Immediately Clegg begins to reveal his indifference to Miranda’s feelings; while he thinks of his success he fails to recognize the cost at which she remains his captive (eg. her life, freedom etc.). Also his use of the word “guest” reveals to us his inability to realise the severity of the situation; he cannot recognize the human rights he has violated or how morally wrong the whole ordeal really was. After this, he thinks about his plan and how it turned out, “I felt a bit unsure the van would be traced…and the only people I really worried about were those two woman who passed” (p. 30). As you can see, he continues to ignore the feelings of the distraught woman he kidnapped and attempts to make sure he has covered his own back. Before he falls asleep, he finally thinks about Miranda; not the state she must be in, but the feelings that would occur within him, and what he would do with her, if he was to go down and see her, “I lay there thinking of her below…I had dreams where I went down and comforted her; I was excited, perhaps I went a bit far in what I gave myself to dream…” (p. 30). This gives us an insight into the state of Clegg’s mentality. He consistently comes up with mere pretexts; wishful thinking that leads him to deceive himself regarding what he as a person can do. In this case, he says he wants to go down and comfort Miranda, however as we discover further in the novel he can’t even bring himself to touch Miranda affectionately, making this act almost impossible for him to do.

The next morning Clegg goes down to the cell, opens the door and his first words to Miranda were “I hope you slept well.” (p. 31). Again, Clegg’s indifference to Miranda’s feelings are revealed here and also his inability to recognize the severity of the situation, evident from this quite cheerful remark. “Where is this, who are you, why have you brought me here? She said it very coldly, not at all violent”. As you can see, it would appear that Miranda handles herself extremely well in this situation; however this only introduces the idea of her hiding her true feelings and putting on a strong front, which is revealed in her diary entries in Chapter 2. After this, Miranda demands to leave and actually attempts to before being stopped by Clegg, “I thought for a minute she was going to attack me, but she must have seen it was silly. I was determined, she couldn’t have won…She gave me a fierce cold look, then she turned away” (p. 32). I believe this is where Clegg begins to realise his power in the situation, and he appears to like it (evident from the cockiness, “she must have seen it was silly…she couldn’t have won”). It is from this point a battle of questions ensues; with Miranda attempting to uncover the identity of Clegg and Clegg failing miserably to hide it effectively. However, it is only when the idea of Clegg’s power is challenged by Miranda that it begins to get interesting, “Suddenly she said, ‘Have you got a cigarette?’ I was all awkward, I got a packet out of my pocket and my lighter and went and passed them to her. I don’t know if I ought to light her cigarette, but it seemed silly” (p. 33). As you can see, it is now that the idea that Clegg isn’t the only one who holds power within the relationship surfaces; Miranda’s quick remark has lead her to realise that Clegg will do anything for her, as long as it doesn’t openly lead to her release. By introducing this idea so early in the story, the author has allowed the idea to develop in a way that Miranda can use it to her advantage later on (which of course she does in a number of escape attempts). The scene continues with more questions by Miranda and short, simplistic answers by Clegg which make it undoubtedly clear that he is lying. Soon enough, this surge of questions ceases and the scene ends with what I believe is a huge mistake on Clegg’s behalf, “Just before I shut the door she said, ‘You’ve forgotten your lighter.’” (p. 35). Such a small mistake could have had enormous consequences in such a situation, and the fact that Clegg let it happen produces the idea that he really isn’t the typical kidnapper, that he really can’t account for small mishaps and the fact that he has to socialise with another human being. It is also here that we could propose the idea that already he has become somewhat dependant on Miranda, or he has at least opened up such a possibility for this dependence to occur.

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2. An assessment of Clegg's mental condition

...and the extent to which his illness has been shaped by childhood experiences.

Fredrick Clegg, the abnormal kidnapper featured in John Fowles “The Collector”, has obvious problems both in coming to terms with his own self and developing and maintaining normal human relationships. He holds a common disregard for social rules, norms and cultural codes, as well as an indifference to the rights and feelings of others; all of which are the common characteristics of a person of sociopathic nature. However, the blame for the development of this disorder cannot be placed on him alone, as the major causes include parental neglect and great shocks within childhood; both of which Clegg helplessly had to experience.

Clegg’s failure to come to terms with his own self surfaces frequently throughout the novel. One of the most obvious of these instances is his ideas about his relationship with Miranda. Just after his big win in the pools, he manages to admit to himself that Miranda would probably never love him and that money wouldn’t be enough to win her over (p. 13), but soon after this he begins to dream about Miranda and himself getting married, living in a modern house and eventually having children together (p. 19). Such thoughts a mere pretexts; it is all wishful thinking and as a result he is constantly deceiving himself. Of course, we know the latter of his dreams could never happen, due to his abnormal inability to engage in sexual activities, let alone touch a woman. This is another thing Clegg deceives himself about, as if he attempts to change himself as a person to suit the situation at hand (which of course fails him). Clegg tells Miranda that “he could never do it [have sex]” because a psychiatrist in the armed forces told him so (p.100-101), but elsewhere he claims that he has never seen any doctor and that “he could do it” (p. 103).  This clearly shows that he is unable to admit to himself that he is abnormal in a sexual sense. Taking pictures of Miranda in an obscene manner (against her will) (p. 106) may have been an outlet for this frustration.

Quite strangely, Clegg never really saw Miranda as a woman. He recognized her as a human being, evident from the fact that he fed her and bought her what she wanted, but at the same time he kept her hidden for himself to look at, as if she was a butterfly. “I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it’s the dead me he wants” (p. 203). Like the quote says, she was supposed to remain pinned, always the same and always beautiful – the way Clegg saw her when he spied on her for all those years. This notion is more evident when Miranda didn’t remain “pinned”, when she “fluttered out of line” and attempted to engage sexually with Clegg, “I never respected her again. It left me angry for days”(p. 103).  Miranda defied Clegg’s objectified image of her and acted as human as any human could be – which made Clegg extremely angry. Miranda being objectified by Clegg (as a butterfly) is also extremely evident when the two play charades; Miranda repeatedly attempted to portray a butterfly, but to her demise he failed to guess correctly (p. 83). This clearly shows that he was mentally unable to distinguish Miranda, and maybe even all woman, from butterfly’s and as a result he treated her as such. This restricted any relationship that could have formed between the two characters, and caused his inability to take into account her rights as a human and of course her feelings. This notion is evident from the fact that after he kidnapped her, he constantly referred to her as his guest (p. 30). By referring to her as his guest, he is failing to take into account the cost at which she was his guest; the loss of her freedom, contact with her friends and family, her life. All he is able to recognize is his great accomplishment and the joy it is bringing him, completely ignoring the feelings of his helpless victim.

As mentioned earlier, a common cause for developing sociopathic ways is said to be great shocks within a person’s childhood that leave long lasting, damaging effects. In Clegg’s life, the first of these shocks was the sudden death of his father in a drink driving car accident (p. 11). This event occurred when Clegg was only 2 years old, implying that he had to grow up without a father figure in his life. Soon after, Clegg’s mother left the family (p. 11), which was the second shock in his life. His mother acted in a completely selfish and irresponsible way, and from my point of view effectively committed an act of child neglect which is another major cause of developing sociopathic ways. But nonetheless, Clegg still greatly missed his mother, and subconsciously searched for a substitute throughout his life, which Miranda believes came in the form of her (p. 121). Clegg’s Aunt saved him from an orphanage as a young child, and raised him from this time onwards, however did not at any time try and really understand Clegg for who he was (p. 11). The Aunt and her daughter Maple despised Clegg’s passion for butterfly collecting, which he learnt from his Uncle Dick, but this uncle would die when Clegg was 15 years old (p. 11). Maybe it was this reason that Clegg’s passion for butterfly collecting took such a dominant role in his life; paying homage to the only person who really understood him in his childhood (his uncle).

As you can see, Frederick Clegg endured many great losses as a child; he never felt real love from his mentors and never really received any affection from them either. As a result he could not develop a real sense of trust, and as his unaffectionate mentors were mainly woman, this would have had a profound impact of his view of the gender. In addition to this, Clegg missed out on a male mentor in his life, in particular in the critical period of puberty. All this and more encouraged Clegg to develop a sense of inferiority within himself, severely damaged his ideas of gender and encouraged him to become as selfish as his mother was by putting his own feelings before anyone else’s and kidnapping the innocent art student Miranda.  With all this being said, I believe Clegg’s childhood had an enormous impact in the shaping of his mental illness.

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3. The author's use of point of view to manipulate the reader’s response to the characters and ideas in the novel.

“The Collector”, by John Fowles, has been written in a style that delivers a double perspective on the novels intriguing storyline. This provides the reader with an interesting opportunity to evaluate the story’s events effectively and choose what side of the conflict to take; and in turn what character(s) to sympathize with. In “The Collector”, the two main characters, Miranda and Clegg, are completely unalike, resulting in two rather different and conflicting viewpoints or perspectives on the story. Clegg is a touch crazy, while Miranda possesses many attributes which Clegg is severely lacking; she is artistic, open minded, sensitive and intelligent. This difference in characteristics leads them to tell the story in very different ways; Clegg constantly analyses the situation in a monotonous way, while Miranda prefers to talk about her feelings, the situation with Clegg and reminisce on past memories. By reading a story set out in such a way, it becomes clear to the reader how authors use perspective to manipulate their response to the characters, and the ideas being presented to them.

In “The Collector”, a scene in which this notion is particularly evident is when Miranda finally gets hold of an appropriate weapon, an axe, only to suffer another unsuccessful escape attempt. By comparing the two perspectives on this event, we can discover the differences in how the author has positioned us to react, and what differences in interpretation result from this. From Clegg’s point of view, Miranda’s attack appears to be one of no remorse, as if she didn’t hold back as soon as she had the axe within her grasp. He speaks of the event as if Miranda had turned into a violent, merciless attacker, not some poor girl who was trying to defend herself. “…she had me at her mercy, it was a miracle she didn’t do me in. She struck down again…I felt a terrible gashing blow in the temple…the blood seemed to gush out at once….I got my hand on it [the axe] and tore it away…”(p.91). Through his retelling of the event, Clegg has positioned Miranda in the negative light, and placed himself as the victim of the situation. “she had me at her mercy” describes Clegg as defenceless and Miranda as a determined attacker, this brutality being emphasized by the fact that he “tore” the axe away from her grasp, it could not simply be “taken”. Although Clegg has attempted to gain sympathy for his ordeal, I don’t believe this is effective enough to position the reader to fully sympathize with the character. What the reader is effectively positioned to believe is the brutality and merciless nature of the attack that Miranda made against Clegg, and it is only because of this that a small amount of sympathy could be developed towards Clegg; however the establishment of Clegg as the crazy kidnapper previous to this event has made this quite difficult. The said brutality of the attack portrays Miranda as extremely hateful towards Clegg, and extremely desperate to escape from Clegg’s strong grasp. However, these ideas about Miranda change significantly when we read her perspective on the event, in which quite a different story has been told.

From Miranda’s point of view, the whole situation came as a lucky break; Clegg had finally slipped up and it was her chance to escape without fail. However as determined as she was, when she finally got hold of the axe her attitude to the idea changed significantly, and new feelings were brought out from within her. “I wasn’t nervous, I picked the axe up very neatly, I didn’t scrape the blade and it was the blunt end. But then… it was like waking up out of a bad dream. I had to hit him and I couldn’t but I had to…I did hit him. But…I didn’t hit straight. Or hard enough. I mean, I lashed out in panic at the last moment.” (p. 227). Rather than the merciless, brutal attacker that Clegg described, Miranda in fact became quite hesitant to attack him at all; she could either not stoop down to his level or had in fact developed some sort of sympathy and/or feelings towards him which prevented her from killing him. Although she was in fact extremely desperate to escape, she was not desperate enough to kill Clegg to get away, and even when she did hit him it was only “in panic”. In contrast to Clegg’s perspective, when Miranda tells the story she is of course the defenceless one in the situation; she has the axe but can not attack him, and when the axe is removed from the conflict and the two characters are fighting on the ground, she simply gives up; “It was too horrible. Panting, straining, like animals. Then suddenly I knew it – I don’t know, undignified. It sounds absurd, but that was it” (p. 227). The readers have been positioned to feel great sympathy for Miranda, as it is another escape attempt failed and now even more of a chance that she will remain Clegg’s prisoner forever. By stating things such as “I couldn’t” and “It was too horrible”, the readers have been positioned to think Miranda was powerless, and the awfulness of the situation gets emphasized. All together these notions come together and present a negative image of the person who placed Miranda in such a situation; her captor: Clegg. It is also at this time that the reader is encouraged to question Miranda’s feelings toward Clegg; previous to this she had expressed her hatred of him in many ways, however when an opportunity arises that allows her to hurt or kill him she cant, which leaves the huge question of “Why?” in the readers thoughts.

As you can see, the author has used the different perspectives to tell two different takes on the same story, each take being influenced by the narrative characters own opinions, ideas and attitudes. Clegg tells a story of a shocking, brutal and merciless attack against him by Miranda, while she paints a different picture by describing her hesitance to even attack him, and the powerlessness that resulted from the emergence of these newfound feelings. Each perspective has positioned the reader to react a different way and receive a different interpretation of the event taking place. In Clegg’s retelling of the story, the reader is positioned to feel the slightest sympathy towards the kidnapper, while in Miranda’s retelling this sympathy is geared towards her instead. It is this difference in perspectives that allows the reader to actually choose who’s side to take in the story, however it is clear that using these two perspectives, the author still holds great power in manipulating the characters to position the reader the way he/she really wants.

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4. The significance of Miranda’s relationship with G.P.

...and what role he plays in her development particularly in terms of the values and attitudes she strives to adopt.

With the introduction of G.P in the “The Collector”, the storyline takes a turn as new issues are raised and new similarities between the characters transpire. G.P, short for George Paston, is a self-proclaimed artist, who Miranda looks up to for direction in not only her art work, but also her life. It is here that a grave similarity between Miranda and Clegg is uncovered. Like Clegg, Miranda has allowed herself to become a kind of chronic worshiper; believing in G.P as the embodiment of right values, attitudes and sense of judgement. It is because of this that Miranda never really achieves the authenticity that G.P encourages her to strive for, instead striving to embody everything that G.P stands for. This notion is clearly evident when she even commits herself to G.P’s disquieting vision of woman, even herself, as being a disturbance and a disease (p.214, 177). This worship is further evident in another of her diary entries, when, just like Clegg, Miranda allows herself to fantasize about the future; turning even G.P’s violence towards her into something of beauty, “G.P, I shall be hurt, lost, battered and buffeted. But it will be like being in a gale of light, after this black hole. It’s simply that. He has the secret of life in him.” (p. 247). From spending time with him, Miranda had become both intellectually and artistically dependant on G.P, and thus struggles without him.

Not only do Clegg and Miranda have similarities, but so do G.P and Clegg. This similarity is that they both possess the desire to capture (or “collect”) woman, although of course with different intentions. We only know of one successful incident with Clegg, however Miranda’s diary entries reveal G.P as a repeat offender, a notion which Miranda had chosen to ignore, “He said, I’ve met dozens of women and girls like you. Some I’ve known well, some I’ve seduced against their better nature…two I’ve even married” (p. 176). Like Clegg, G.P watches his “victims” before their “capture” such as on the morning train, and likes to objectify them, in particular by painting them nude (p. 176). Like G.P, Clegg also has a passion for art through taking pictures, although this passion is small and he fails to see what true art really is. With this being said, the introduction of G.P into the collector may have been done to put emphasis on the previously weak notion, introduced by Clegg, of artists desiring control, and their wish to gain this control through the use of art.

Whilst Clegg had captured Miranda, she still remained captured by G.P, and thus continuously reflected on his teachings throughout her diary entries whilst awaiting her release from Clegg’s grasp. From these reflections, we can see that G.P played a major role in Miranda’s development as a person, in particular in terms of the values and attitudes she strived to adopt. From the list of changes inspired by G.P that Miranda spoke of in her diary, we can see that G.P was gaining huge influence over her entire life, even the political party she chose to support, “You have to be left politically because the socialists are the only people who care…”. Whether intentionally or not, he was bombarding his ideas about life into her, and she had to choose to live her life accordingly, “You live seriously…don’t go to silly films…don’t read cheap newspapers…don’t listen to trash on the wireless…don’t waste time talking about nothing. You use your life.” (p. 144). Whether or not she agreed with these ideas didn’t matter, because her worship towards him made sure she did, “He’s made me believe them; it’s the thought of him that makes me feel guilty when I break the rules” (p. 145). As you can see, Miranda’s and G.P’s relationship had formed into one of “rules”, and when she broke these rules she was punished emotionally through self-imposed guilt. G.P was controlling her development as a person, it was only her capture by Clegg that would allow her to effectively escape from it, but even then she still continued to follow on with his teachings through her diary. However, like Clegg with Miranda, I believe Miranda is more so allowing herself to be controlled by G.P, more control than G.P could ever imagine. To G.P, the little control he had over Miranda was probably like a game, but to Miranda the large amount of control that she made present was completely serious.

With all this being said I believe Miranda’s relationship with Clegg is of great significance, as it brings a whole new aspect to the storyline, brings new issues to life and allows previously unnoticed similarities between the characters to transpire. Without the addition of G.P to the mix, the character of Miranda would have never been the same, as in fact Miranda embodied a large part of what G.P stood for in life. So with no G.P, the character of Miranda that helped make the book such a success could never have been constructed, and the significant issues which these characters helped to portray could never have been challenged in the same way. Although the character wasn’t present at the forefront of “The Collector’s” storyline, G.P certainly did have a significant impact on the way it was constructed.

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5. How the context (personal background, social, political, cultural influences etc.) of John Fowles may have influenced the construction of the novel.

Author John Fowles has commented that the two events which influenced his conception of the book “The Collector” were in fact his attendance to a performance of the opera “Bluebeards Castle” (a story about an imprisoned woman), and coming across newspaper accounts about a kidnapping incident in which a young man held a woman captive for three months in a backyard air raid shelter. However although this is the case, through biographical research on the author we can find that many of the key themes/messages portrayed in the novel, including the idea of “collecting” living creatures, the theme of the few verses the many and the artistic verses the conventional, have been influenced heavily by Fowles own context and the many life-changing events that occurred in his life. The characters in “The Collector” not only portray significant ideas, attitudes and behaviours upheld by society, but of John Fowles too.

John Fowles was born on the 31st of March, 1926 in a small suburb of London called Leigh-On-Sea. His parents, Gladys and Robert Fowles, gave birth to only one other child, a daughter; however this was 15 years later so John was considered to be an only child. It was this loneliness as a child that is said to have caused him to develop his preference for solitude over society; a trait that is well established within the character of Frederick Clegg in “The Collector”.  It was as a child that another shocking resemblance to Clegg would develop, when Fowles was introduced to the wonders of nature by his uncle, which included the art of butterfly collecting. However unlike his character Clegg, Fowles would later despise this activity, and openly reject the concept of “collecting” living creatures which of course gained great exposure in his novel “The Collector”. It was at this time that a key aspect of his first novel was developed within him, and is inevitably what influenced him to construct “The Collector’s” storyline with a scenario containing the same idea. This idea of collecting is expressed by both characters in the novel, however I believe it is what Miranda describes that really shows the prominence of the idea, and the emphasis the author places on it, throughout the novel; “I am one in a row of specimens. It’s when I try to flutter out of line that he hates me. I’m meant to be dead, pinned, always the same, always beautiful. He knows that part of my beauty is being alive, but it’s the dead me he wants” (p. 203). I believe this quote shows that the author has constructed both characters to express the idea in a way which criticises it, and the contradictory ways behind it. It clearly shows the authors viewpoint on the concept of “collecting”, and with that being said it is clear that the early rejection of butterfly collecting by Fowles had a huge influence on the way in which he constructed his novel and its storyline. Without this development in his life, Fowles would have never received the same influence that would form the basis of his first novel, and as a result “The Collector” would never have formed the same, successful way.

As an adult, John Fowles found himself in a confronting situation where he managed to gain support for his powerful ideas only to be beaten down by the majority which simply didn’t care for what he had to say. It was at this time that he truly came face to face with the notion of few vs. many for the first time, and learnt first hand what the outcome of such situations generally are. It all began during his teaching career when he accepted a position at a Greek boarding school to teach English, only to find that he would be asked to teach in a way that he had previously detested. The school asked its teachers to recreate a sort of regimented environment for its students; a style of schooling that John had openly rejected at a previous school. John’s negative ideas about this style of schooling quickly spread amongst the teachers, and encouraged them to act in early 1953. A number of teachers banded together and tried to implement some progressive reforms, and as a result – they were all fired. The outcome of this event would change his life dramatically, and it would result in his great resentment to the few vs. many idea, which he would carry with him throughout his life. In turn, this notion, whether intentionally or not, surfaced within his novel “The Collector”, where the two main characters are constructed to represent this same issue. Clegg, the kidnapper, has been constructed to represent “the many”; the mainstream section of society which is unappreciative of the fine details in life, such as art, who move together and oppress “the few”; the section of society Miranda has been constructed to represent, who genuinely do recognize the fine details in life, who strive to be non-conformist and encourage intellectually-backed change. The scenario in the novel is similar to that of Fowles; Miranda has managed to gain enough power to have some sort of control as to what goes on within the house, however she soon finds that no matter what she does, Clegg will always have the final say, and effectively control the future direction of her life. In other words, Miranda represents those who fight for change, and Clegg represents those of society who generally ignore this fight; which is a notion which comes up quite frequently in these two characters conversations. “M: What do you think about the H-Bomb? C: …You can’t do anything.’ It’s here to stay. M: …if there is enough of us who believe the bomb is wicked…then the government would have to do something. Wouldn’t it? C: Some hope if you ask me.”(p. 133). As you can see, in this scenario Miranda, “the few” talks about fighting for serious change only to be oppressed by Clegg, “the many”. It was this kind of event that Fowles had experienced in a dramatic way, and with that being said it is clear that, being so evident in the storyline, it had a major influence on the novels construction.

Fowles was brought up in a middle-class family and was sent to a prestigious all-boys school which he described as “a proper English institution…traditional, academically demanding, and brutal”. It was this kind of childhood that was instilling in him the proper English ways and attitudes dictated by his class, and as he grew older he began to feel stifled by it all. However, his “proper English” parents could not stop him from joining the armed forces, in which this “proper” upbringing was effectively worked out of him. It was at this time that he developed his resentment towards his own class, only to be fuelled by the development of his artistic views in the future. These artistic views came whilst studying towards his teaching career; he began to read and translate poetry, and go out of his way to enjoy the natural beauty of places such as Greece. He was finally able to “overcome that fear of self expression that he once suggested was common to all Englishmen”. It was now that Fowles had truly developed the concept of artistic vs. conventional (affluent middle class people were often categorized as conventional), and either intentionally or not, it also ended up in his first novel, “The Collector”. In the novel, this notion came in the form of art student Miranda; a young girl who too rejected and openly criticized the class from which she came. “That’s not fair. I’m not a snob. I hate snobs. I don’t prejudge people…I hate snobbism…Some of my best friends in London are…working class” (p.40). As you can see, Miranda, the girl even the general public calls “artistic” (p.42) appears quite desperate to make her resentment to her own class public, fuelled by the artistic, more opened mind she too had developed just like Fowles. With that being said, it is clear that the artistic vs. conventional ideas that Fowles developed before his teaching career made their way into his novel’s storyline, and therefore influenced its construction in some way.

As you can see, “The Collector” has been influenced heavily by the authors own life experiences, and as a result these experiences have become major aspects of the novels storyline. Without them, Fowle’s first novel may never have been the success it turned out to be, as these experiences quite frankly make the characters as unique and interesting as they are, and if they were to become lousy then only a lousy storyline could follow.

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6. The novel's conclusion

...and how it is important in terms of the writer’s overall purpose.

To be honest, I thought the conclusion of John Fowles “The Collector” came across as an easy way out in terms of storyline endings, compared to the extravagant ending that I thought the novel was setting me up for. To me, Miranda simply dying from pneumonia is a relatively weak ending for a strong willed, determined character that had her mind dead set on escaping the grasps of her sociopathic kidnapper. It was this big escape that I thought the novel was setting me up for the entire time, and although I recognize the fact that it would have to have been written from Clegg’s point of view, I still believe Fowles could have done a great job of it; rather than simply going against the nature of the character and killing her off. Her sheer determination to escape can be seen throughout her heartfelt diary entries, with statements to the likes of this clearly standing out from her usual reminiscence: “I must must must escape. I spent hours and hours today thinking about it. Wild ideas. He’s so cunning, its incredible. Foolproof…Violence is no good. It must be cunning” (p. 165). It was statements such as these that consistently increased my desire to see Miranda escape, as if this big escape ending was almost certainly coming up in the final chapters. But to my disbelief, the only escape that Miranda took part in was one assisted by Clegg; when her dead body was carried from her cell and buried in the back yard. Not the ending that I, and I guess or Miranda, was hoping for, and more importantly not the ending I believe I was being set up for.

However, as disappointing as I believe the ending was, I do believe Fowles was successful in writing his conclusion; it essentially tied up any important loose ends and leaves a significant impact on the reader. As with any novel or story, the conclusion is extremely important in terms of the writer’s overall purpose because it is effectively the final demonstration of the story’s theme; it is the author’s last chance to leave their desired impact on the reader. In “The Collector”, Fowles does just that. In the last two pages of the novel, Fowles really gets the idea of Clegg being a collector set in stone, as only three weeks after the passing of Miranda, Clegg is on the lookout for another butterfly/woman, “Of course I shall never have a guest again…Still as a matter of interest I have since been looking into the problems there would be with the girl in Woolworths.” (p.282). The final words from Clegg in the novel are just as chilling, “Of course [next time] I would make it clear from the start who’s boss and what I expect. But it’s still just an idea. I only put the stove down there today because the room needs drying out anyway” (p. 283). In the beginning it was just an idea, and now the same idea was going through his mind again. As you can see, Fowles has effectively resurfaced the issues/themes which he feels are most significant and has used them all to form the conclusion of the novel, in order to leave a final and memorable impact on the reader. By doing so, Fowles, and any other author for that matter, can feel truly satisfied that he has done all he can to get his desired points across to the reader, and that the most profound impact possible has been made.

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