Fowles, John. The Collector.
The butterfly collector, Frederick Clegg, an ordinary young man around 30, wins in a lottery. He sends his aunt, by whom he has grown up, to Australy together with her invalid daughter. They should spend some time by their relatives.
Frederick is in love with a pretty girl Miranda, around 20, who studies the arts. He sometimes follows her and finds out where she studies and what she does. It gives him a vague idea which he starts to fulfil. He buys a van and an old isolated house in the country. He kidnaps Miranda and puts her in the cellar which he has furnished and prepared for her. He takes care for her with all his attachment and loyalty, buys her all she aks for, and does all she wants him to do except for letting her go. Miranda doesn't understand why he keeps her in the cellar without any obvious reason. He loves her, admires her, and wants her to love him as well. He never touches her, though.
Miranda tries to escape, she pretends illness, she uses all the thinkable means to understand him, but she fails. He remains ignorant to arts, stiff, and posing to be a higher social class. He uses many meaningless phrases, has bad grammar. He strongly distinguishes what he believes to be good versus bad and he avoids the bad. Miranda wants to show Frederick that the sex is not bad, she undresses, and tries to excite him. Frederick is unable to do that, and after this, Miranda sinks to the level of "bad" in his eyes.
At last, Miranda gets really ill. Frederick waits so long for calling a doctor that Miranda dies. At first he wants to die too, but he searchs her belongings and finds her personal diary. Than he starts to hate her again and burries her in the garden. He thinks about getting another girl who looks very similar as Miranda but is only a shopgirl.
- as narrator: plainly describes what happens, presents Miranda's speech in quotation marks, shows no emotions
- desires to own Miranda like one of his butterflies
- although he is the one who puts Miranda in the prison, himself is a prisoner to his own narrow-minded personality
- both emotionally and physically impotent
- paralelled to Shakespeare's Caliban in the Tempest (the slave), though calling himself Ferdinand (the lover)
- as narrator: her diary presents her changing moods and attitudes, her opinions on art, and her musings on the middle-aged artist G.P. who is in love with her and whose art she admires
- holds herself superior to Frederick whom she attempts to educate and to humanize, hates his passivity and indifference
- passionate, seeking education, with active stance (communist sympathies)
- paralelled to Shakespeare's Miranda of the Tempest
AuthorFowles, John. (1926 - 2005).
Full TitleThe Collector.
First PublishedLondon: Jonathan Cape, 1963.
Fowles, John. The Collector. (1963). London: Pan Books, 1986.