All the time we were up in London spending and spending I was thinking I wasn't going to see her any more; then that I was rich, a good spec as a husband now; then again I knew it was ridiculous, people only married for love, especially girls like Miranda. There were even times I thought I would forget her. But forgetting's not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn't happen to me.
This quote displays two of the main ideas of the novel, the first of which is the changing class landscape of England in the 1960s. "I was rich, a good spec as a husband now," notes Clegg. As a boy, Clegg grew up well outside of the wealthy social scene of England, and now he believes, at least at first, that he can buy his way into the upper class. Throughout The Collector, he will come up against the realization that his financial prosperity is in conflict with his uneducated upbringing.
This quotation ends with a few statements about Clegg's mental life: "But forgetting's not something you do, it happens to you. Only it didn't happen to me." These lines constitute a telling introduction to the novel. They show Clegg's disconnect from normal human patterns of emotion and disappointment, and foreshadow his disturbed mindset throughout the story.
I still say I didn't go down there with the intention of seeing whether there was anywhere to have a secret guest. I can't really say what intention I had.
I just don't know. What you do blurs over what you did before.
This quote is an excellent example of Clegg's split personality, which he exhibits throughout the novel. Clegg has been exploring his potential new house, which he will soon buy for the purpose of imprisoning Miranda in the cellar. He tricks himself into thinking that he is a good person with decent intentions for his prisoner. Before he has captured her, he justifies his desires by construing them all as fantasies. The quote ends with ominous foreboding, indicating that Clegg ultimately knows that he is doing something wrong.
In my opinion a lot of people who may seem happy now would do what I did or similar things if they had the money and the time. I mean, to give way to what they pretend now they shouldn't. Power corrupts, a teacher I had always said. And Money is Power.
This quote shows Clegg's obsession with money, and his related obsession with justifying his actions. He believes that his new prosperity will give him power to do whatever he wants. At the same time, he recognizes that such potential has corrupted him - and he justifies his actions by saying that money would inevitably corrupt anyone. Clegg apparently does not think that kidnapping Miranda is indicative of pathological behavior. Rather, he thinks that he is perfectly normal and that many people in his position would have acted in the same way, if enabled to do so by enhanced financial means.
It was like not having a net and catching a specimen you wanted in your first and second fingers (I was always very clever at that), coming up slowly behind and you had it, but you had to nip the thorax, and it would be quivering there. It wasn't easy like it was with a killing-bottle. And it was twice as difficult with her, because I didn't want to kill her, that was the last thing I wanted.
This quote is an extended metaphor comparing Clegg's capture of Miranda to the capture of a butterfly. Since Clegg is indeed an avid butterfly collector, the ideas of collection and of Miranda as a specimen are prominent themes of the novel. This quote reveals a lot about Clegg's mindset: the imagery indicates that he views Miranda almost as another one of his butterflies, meant to be enjoyed from afar but not really interacted with once collected.
'I hate scientists,' she said. 'I hate people who collect things, and classify things and give them names and then forget all about them. That's what people are always doing in art. They call a painter an impressionist or a cubist or something and then they put him in a drawer and don't see him as a living individual painter any more...'
This quote demonstrates Miranda's disdain for Clegg's passionate butterfly collecting, and for other forms of collection. Through the lens of her expertise, which is art, she perfectly articulates her own captured situation. Like famous works of art that have been collected, cataloged, and stored away, Clegg's butterflies have been killed, framed, and concealed. And Miranda, a beautiful woman who had inspired great admiration, has been hidden away in Clegg's basement for his enjoyment alone. In fact, this quote is a metaphor for Miranda's state of capture.
She was like all women, she had a one-track mind.
I never respected her again. It left me angry for days.
Because I could do it.
The photographs (the day I gave her the pad), I used to look at them sometimes. I could take my time with them. They didn't talk back at me.
This quote reveals that Miranda's attempt to seduce Clegg, to give him sexual gratification and thus gain her freedom, did not work for very peculiar reasons. Clegg is not sexually attracted to Miranda, or at least has no intention of having sex with her. He finds her beautiful as an object; however, when she speaks her mind or does anything "nasty" - such as kiss him, take her clothes off, or try to have sex with him - he realizes she is an independent person, full of "nasty" feelings that he does not want to share. In this quote, it becomes clear that what Clegg loves is the preserved image of Miranda, not her as a living, breathing individual.
Such people. I must have stood next to them in the Tube, passed them in the street, of course I've overheard them and I knew they existed. But never really believed they exist. So totally blind. It never seemed possible.
Miranda is an art student and views the world from a deeply artistic perspective. As Clegg's prisoner, she is taken aback by Clegg's narrow-minded lack of appreciation for art, despite his love of collecting beautiful butterflies. This quote shows the disconnect between Miranda's and Clegg's views of the world. Miranda does not want to possess anything; instead, she yearns to have rich and meaningful experiences. Clegg, in contrast, has no real interest in experiencing anything; he wants to possess and control his reality.
I have a strange illusion quite often. I think I've become deaf. I have to make a little noise to prove I'm not. I clear my throat to show myself that everything's quite normal. It's like the little Japanese girl they found in the ruins of Hiroshima. Everything dead; and she was singing to her doll.
This quote shows the extreme isolation Miranda suffers in her basement prison. She cannot see daylight, is confined to the room for most of the day, and has no interaction with anyone aside from Clegg. Despite her best efforts, she feels more and more overcome by loneliness. She is desperate and depressed. This quote offers insight into Miranda's mindset as she struggles to free herself from her prison. This quote also shows how oppressive her cell (which is only 10-by-20 feet) must be when Miranda is in there alone.
And yes, he had more dignity than I did then and I felt small, mean. Always sneering at him, jabbing him, hating him and showing it. It was funny, we sat in silence facing each other and I had a feeling I've had once or twice before, of the most peculiar closeness to him - not love or attraction or sympathy in any way. But linked destiny. Like being shipwrecked on an island - a raft - together. In every way not wanting to be together. But together.
The plot and imagery of The Collector consistently draw on ideas from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. In this play, Miranda is the beautiful young daughter of the enchanter Prospero and the two live together on a remote island. The island's monstrous native inhabitant Caliban falls in love with Miranda, and tries to rape her. However, Caliban ends up as the servant of Prospero and Miranda falls in love with Ferdinand, an aristocrat, after he is shipwrecked on the island.
In The Collector, Miranda refers to Clegg (whose real name, Frederick, she does not know) alternately as Ferdinand (the name he gives himself) and as Caliban (the name she gives him). The above quote entails another allusion to The Tempest, since this passage evokes the imagery of a shipwreck. It also shows how Miranda frequently feels that she is superior to Clegg, thus mirroring Miranda's assumed superiority to Caliban in The Tempest.
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. He wants me living-but-dead. I felt it terribly strongly today. That my being alive and changing and having a separate mind and having moods and all that was becoming a nuisance.
This quote further reveals, through Miranda's observations, Clegg's view of Miranda as an extension of his collection of beautiful butterflies. He loves Miranda when she is beautiful and obedient and does not exercise her free will. In this quote, Miranda has observed that when she expresses dissent or otherwise does not act as Clegg expects, he grows increasingly upset. This situation has also been exacerbated by her frequent attempts at escape. Miranda is no dead butterfly, pinned to the wall for posterity. Yet this quote reveals with creepy foreboding that she might end up that way.
The Collector Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Collector is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.